Serbian coach Bogdan Obradovic and Switzerland's Roger Federer both defend Novak Djokovic’s decision to skip Serbia's first-round Davis Cup tie against Switzerland this weekend in Novi Sad. Federer decided to join the Swiss team at the last minute; Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka is also playing.
A depleted Serbian squad is also playing without its No. 2, Janko Tipsarevic, who is out with an injury, and its No. 3, Viktor Troicki, who is serving a suspension for missing a blood test last year. Two men ranked outside of the Top 150—Dusan Lajovic and Ilija Bozoljac—are the singles starters for the 2010 champions. Federer beat Bozoljac in the opening rubber on Friday.
"Novak is exhausted and made it clear he needs to recuperate for what will be a grueling season on the ATP Tour," Obradovic told reporters. "He has played so many great matches for us, his priority this season is to recapture the number one spot on the ATP tour and our fans need to understand that he is still a part of this team."
Federer, who is playing only is second World Group-level tie since 2004, said he would have liked to see Djokovic play, but understands the reasoning behind his decision.
"We were all hoping Djokovic would be here, but we understand that he has good reasons not to be and we all know how much he has done for his country," said Federer. "It would have been more exciting and more difficult for us but what we have to do now is take this opportunity to try to win the tie."
Federer, who has battled with the Djokovic camp before, said he now has good relations with Novak.
"The press hypes a lot of things up because they want top players to hate each other, but my relationship with Novak is good," Federer said. "We've had a tough and fierce rivalry at times but away from the court we are friendly and do a lot of things together, like charity."