BELGRADE, Feb 2 (Reuters) - Croatia's top-ranked player Marin Cilic is likely to miss the Davis Cup first-round clash against traditional Balkan rivals Serbia next month because of a niggling arm injury, the world number eight said on Monday.
"I've been out for seven weeks already and will be sidelined for at least another two, hence playing best-of-five sets matches straight away would be difficult," Cilic, who won last year's U.S. Open, told Croatian media.
"My recovery is not as speedy as I expected it to be, the latest scan has shown an improvement and I am working hard to get back but I've had to cancel my participation in the Zagreb Indoors, Rotterdam and Delray Beach.
"If (world number one Novak) Djokovic doesn't play for Serbia we could win with a bit of luck but even if we don't, one should remember that forming a competitive squad is a process."
Serbia, the 2010 winners and 2013 runners-up, will host the March 6-8 tie in the central city of Kraljevo in an effort to promote the sport and Djokovic to fans outside the capital Belgrade, where the imposing Kombank Arena has been an almost impregnable fortress.
Djokovic, who won his fifth Australian Open title on Sunday by beating Briton Andy Murray in the final, is expected to lead Serbia this year.
In their only previous Davis Cup clash, Serbia enjoyed a 4-1 away win over Croatia in Split en route to the 2010 triumph.
Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editing by Ed Osmond