BELGRADE, Sep 16 (Reuters) World number three Novak Djokovic believes Serbia will beat Australia in what he expects to be a tough Davis Cup world group play-off tie next weekend.
''We are up against the winners of 28 Davis Cup titles and that amazing record speaks for Australia's quality but I am very optimistic that we can beat them,'' Djokovic told a news conference today.
''We have a very special team spirit and a great opportunity to break into the World Group on home clay, roared on by 20,000 passionate fans who can swing the tie our way,'' he said.
Djokovic, who reached his first Grand Slam final earlier this month at the US Open in New York, expects Australia, led by former world number one LLeyton Hewitt, to be ''formidable opposition'' to the Serbians.
''There are no easy matches in the Davis Cup and it doesn't get much more difficult than playing against a team led by the combative LLeyton Hewitt.
''We are the favourites this time but they will be a tough nut to crack and it will take our best performance to win.
''I haven't had too much time to recover from the U.S. Open but I will be fine by Friday for the opening singles rubbers and we can't wait for the tie to begin.
Hewitt will be joined by world number 91 Peter Luczak, number 95 Chris Guccione and doubles number eight Paul Hanley in a bid to keep Australia, who last won the trophy in 2003, from being relegated from the World Group for only the second time.
Apart from Djokovic, Serbia's hopes of reaching the top division for the first time also rest on world number 53 Janko Tipsarevic and doubles number five Nenad Zimonjic.
Tipsarevic hopes to take centre stage along with Djokovic after recovering from a rib injury that forced him to retire against Spain's world number two Rafael Nadal at the U.S. open.
''I took two weeks off to recover and felt no strain during practice over the last few days so I should be fully fit to play on Friday if selected,'' Tipsarevic said.
REUTERS TB AS2037