In a few hours from now the Davis Cup final starts in real earnest. Given Janko Tipsarevic’s injury and Victor Troicki’s ban for refusing a doping test, this Finale boils down to the 5th rubber. To no one’s surprise, the single rubbers on Friday, were decided in straight sets – Novak Djokovic and Tomas Berdych doing what they were supposed to and winning the matches in straight sets. Djokovic continued his winning streak and has now extended the streak to sets. He has won 8 consecutive sets.
In the first reverse singles match, Novak Djokovic will put that streak on line against the perennially-dangerous Tomas Berdych. Even after the spectacular finish to his regular season, Djokovic will have to summon one more might effort against a player who is as talented and dangerous as they come. Berdych, who I often refer to as “Baby Safin” has been pushing the Big 4 in recent times and this is a match Novak cannot let his year-end fatigue to take over. He will have to be on his best possible game to push this into a deciding 5th match – the kind of matches that make Davis Cup so unique in tennis.
Tomas Berdych will have to continue the good work he has been doing these past few seasons. A little too late in his career, but things have a very funny way of happening when you have the amount of talent Berdych has and you start putting in the hard yards. At his very best, Tomas can hurt his opponent on the court in so many ways – forehand, backhand, volley, serve, at the net, back-court – you get the idea! The deciding factor will be how he will handle these weapons when pressure comes calling. In Tennis and many other sports, such talent can prove to be a double edged sword when the pressure gets to unhealthy levels.
Assuming Novak Djokovic continues his winning streak and extends it to 24 matches and 11 sets, there is going to be a huge decision to be made on the Serbian side of the tie on who should be the player to challenge Radek Stepanek – the Davis Cup hero last year when the Czech Republic beat Spain. My pick would be to play Bozoljac, who has had some experience with big matches rather than the young buck Lajovic. In his defence, Lajovic did put up a credible show against Berdych on Friday, but this really is the deep end and it may not be the best of ideas to put the rookie under so much pressure.
Prediction: Serbia and Novak Djokovic to mutually gift each other a 2nd Davis Cup win!