India draw mighty Serbia in play-off tie

India have drawn former champions and fifth-seeded Serbia in an away Davis Cup World Group play-off tie from September 16-18.

The tie will be held in the traditional five-set match format spread over three days. The two-day, best-of-three sets trial, does not apply here. India had rallied to beat China 3-2 in the new format last week to book their berth in the World Group play-off.

Serbia -- without Novak Djokovic, Viktor Troicki, Filip Krajinovic and Janko Tipsarevic, -- had lost to Sam Querry led USA 3-1 on the indoor clay surface at home in the first round of World Group in February.

The two teams had previously met in Bengaluru, during the 2014 World Group play-off tie, where India lost 2-3.

"It is always tough when we have to play an away tie. All I can say is that we will give it a good shot," said Davis Cup captain Mahesh Bhupathi.

Coach Zeeshan Ali admitted being a bit disappointed by the draw. "Playing Serbia in Serbia is quite tough. It comes down to the conditions. On paper, we should have beaten China by a bigger margin, but the cold conditions made things easier for them. The conditions in Serbia and possibility of playing on clay add to our challenge," Zeeshan said.

"Also, the five-set rule works in our favour in the zonal ties as our players are better experienced to play five sets at that level. But at World Group, we are at a disadvantage because the other teams have at least two players in top 50 with the experience of playing in the Grand Slams. It's fifth consecutive year we have reached the World Group play-off, let's see what it holds."

Before this, India had lost to Serbia (2014), Czech Republic (2015), Spain (2016) and Canada (2017). The last time India competed in the World Group was at Novi Sad in Serbia in 2011 and lost 4-1.

The winning nations in the World Group play-offs will qualify for the 2019 World Group, while the losing nations will compete in their respective zone group I events in 2019.

World Group play-offs draw (September 14-16): Argentina vs Colombia; Great Britain vs Uzbekistan; Austria vs Australia; Switzerland vs Sweden; Serbia vs India; Canada vs the Netherlands; Hungary vs Czech Republic; Japan vs Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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