Davis Cup hit by star pullouts, Nadal Rio appeal

World No. 1 Djokovic and newly crowned Wimbledon winner Murray had been expected to play in the quarterfinal between Serbia and defending champions Great Britain. But Djokovic pulled out and Murray is expected to only watch from the sidelines.

Djokovic pulled out of the Davis Cup tie after his shock Wimbledon third-round exit to America's Sam Querrey.   -  AP

The Davis Cup quarterfinals gets underway but it will miss the superstar pulling power of Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray and will be potentially overshadowed by Rafael Nadal's last-ditch attempt to get to the Rio Olympics.

World No. 1 Djokovic and newly crowned Wimbledon winner Murray had been expected to play in the quarterfinal between Serbia and defending champions Great Britain. But Djokovic pulled out of the tie after his shock Wimbledon third-round exit to America's Sam Querrey, the Serb's earliest loss at a Grand Slam event in nine years.

Murray is still officially listed in the British team for the Friday-Sunday tie on outdoor clay in Belgrade. However, the 29-year-old is expected to watch from the sidelines as he rests after his Wimbledon triumph and ahead of a packed summer schedule which includes the Olympics next month as well as the U.S. Open.

"Andy has to look after his body and his mind. He's got his eyes set on getting some rest and really making a big push for the Olympics, US Open and beyond," Britain team captain Leon Smith told the BBC.

The British challenge will be led instead by world number 67 Kyle Edmund and the 240th-ranked James Ward.

In the absence of Djokovic and Serb No. 2 Viktor Troicki, World No. 81 Dusan Lajovic will lead 2010 champions Serbia.

Fourteen-time major winner Nadal and his Spanish team do not feature in the World Group quarterfinals, but the 30-year-old still faces a key weekend as he hears whether or not the International Tennis Federation (ITF) will give him the go-ahead to take part in Rio.

Nadal hasn't travelled to Romania for the Euro/Africa zone play-off as he continues to recover from a wrist injury which forced a withdrawal from the French Open and caused him to miss Wimbledon.

Nadal is keen to play in Rio after being unable to defend his gold medal at London in 2012 due to a knee injury but he hasn't fulfilled the qualifying criteria.

In other quarterfinals this weekend, Italy hosts Argentina in Pesaro.

Juan Martin del Potro, the 2009 US Open winner, is back in the Argentina squad after a four-year absence. Federico Delbonis, the world number 40, is the South Americans' top player while Fabio Fognini, ranked 36, leads Italy's challenge.

Only once since returning to the World Group in 2002 has Argentina failed to have at least made the quarterfinals and that was in 2014 when Italy defeated it in the first round.

In Trinec, the 2012 and 2013 champions Czech Republic faces nine-time winners France, whose last title came in 2001.

The Czechs will miss its number one, eighth-ranked Wimbledon semi-finalist Tomas Berdych, while France will be led by 10th-ranked Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. France can also call upon Wimbledon doubles champions Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert.

The weekend's remaining quarterfinal sees 32-time champions United States host Croatia in Portland.

Both sides boast two top-20 players — John Isner for the home side and former US Open champion Marin Cilic for 2005 champion Croatia.

Croatia has won all three of the nations' previous ties, with Cilic also starring in the most recent encounter, a quarterfinal in 2009.

Quarterfinals

At Belgrade (clay, outdoor): Serbia v Great Britain

At Pesaro (clay, outdoor): Italy v Argentina

At Trinec (hard, indoor): Czech Republic v France

At Portland (hard, outdoor): United States v Croatia