© Peter Staples/ATP Tour

Dusan Lajovic admires Filip Krajinovic's return.

Lajovic Relishing Team Atmosphere At ATP Cup

World No. 33 loves to hike in the Serbian mountains

Dusan Lajovic is making his third ATP Cup appearance this week in Sydney for 2020 champion Serbia and is filling the void left by Novak Djokovic as the No. 1 singles player for Serbia at the 16-team event.

Ahead of his final Group A match, the World No. 33 caught up with ATPTour.com to talk about the character of Team Serbia, his love for the ATP Cup atmosphere, Serbian nature and more.

If you could take one shot from any member of your team and add it to your game what would it be?
I would probably take Filip’s return. I think he’s returning pretty well, he’s very solid from both sides. He can attack first serve as well as the second serve. I think this is a pretty good shot that he has and if I could [have it], it would probably be a weapon in my game as well.

Who on the team would most likely be late for practice?
I think that until now nobody has been late. We have some other guys that are not here that are usually late, but in this environment right now we are all on time I would say.

‘You’re running a tight ship!’

We are!

Tell me a little bit about the personalities on the team, what stands out?
I can tell you a funny story about the twins, Ivan [Sabanov] and Matej [Sabanov]. We are a similar age and when we played as kids, usually you never wanted to play one of them because, for example Under 10 or 12 years old, if you played against one of them and you beat him, the other one would come on the court, they would hug and they would cry. So, you always felt so sad when you beat them. They’ve changed this now in professional tennis. But when we were kids, it was so funny when you played against them.

How nice is it to have the two of them with you here to enjoy this experience?
Especially for them to be part of the team, and to play this kind of event and get a feel for the atmosphere, and hopefully there will be Serbian fans to cheer for us. It’s a good experience for them and I just hope that they can have good memories looking back to it as I did, and everybody else in the team did. I hope that we’re going to have a lot of fun here and that everybody can give their best under the circumstances, and I think that if we are able to do that then the opportunities will present themselves.

What do you remember about your first tennis club in Serbia?
I remember there was also a pizza place in my first tennis club, and I enjoyed eating pizza. That was my earliest memory of the tennis club.

What are three things you love about Serbia?
The nature would come first, then hospitality, and the third one is the way of life. It’s a love-hate relationship. People are really enjoying a lot living in Serbia but, they have a lot of struggles as well. There is always conflict between being disciplined and working a lot or enjoying life a lot. So if it’s in small doses, I think it’s a very good balance. But if you enjoy too much, then it might not be as beneficial as it should be.

What is your favourite place to go in Serbia?
We’ve had a dog since a year and a half ago, it’s a Shiba Inu. We like to go to different mountains and just hike. I would recommend any of the mountains in Serbia. The mountain named Rtanj is shaped like a pyramid and it’s really nice to hike. It’s around three or four hours to the top, so I think it’s a nice hike and a great weekend escape. Then there are some bigger mountains where you can spend some ski holidays and I would recommend any of these places. Then obviously if you are in the capital, there is a lot of good food, good music, good people to enjoy. I would put these two as must-sees.

How do you find the team atmosphere and the whole experience of playing with the team?
As I mentioned many times before, playing for the team is a whole different sport. It’s a whole different angle and perspective. I think you always have that pressure that you put on yourself when you play individually, but when you play for the team and under a flag for your own country you put that extra pressure of playing for your teammates, playing for the country, playing for the people.

Maybe the people come to cheer for you and you are playing for them, but maybe it doesn’t really look that way. You just put those extra things, it can be a burden, or it can be a motivator. In 2020 it was a motivator for all of us and it went great. I think if we’re able to maintain that kind of mentality going into the matches, I think we will have great tennis and great fun on the court, which I think is the most important thing to be able to give our best once we are playing the matches.

There were so many Serbians here a couple of years ago, too. How nice was that?
Yeah, the Serbian community all around Australia is huge and especially in Sydney. Maybe also in Brisbane, but I think Sydney has the most Serbians that live here and I hope that they will come this year as well. The more, the merrier. If we have full stands it’s going to be great, and if not, still it’s going to be much better than last year because there were no fans at all. Things are going in a better way the past couple of months, and this is what we are all hoping for.