Saturday, 9 November 2013

Davis Cup Final

Next week's Davis Cup final will draw a close to the tennis season and Serbia are as short as 2/7 to win the trophy for the second time in their history. That favoritism underestimates the true chances of success for the defending champions, the Czech Republic, who are as big as 5/2.

This will be the third time in the past five years that the duo of Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek have led the Czechs to the Davis Cup final. Both are experienced campaigners in the event who have had plenty of success in the team format.

The Serbians will rely on Novak Djokovic but beneath that there are cracks and question marks. Viktor Troicki is unavailable while he serves a ban, which means Serbia will need to count on Janko Tipsarevic as the second singles player. Given a season of very poor form and results along with some injury concerns, it's easy to understand why Serbian fans might not be as bullish about this final as could be expected.

The final will be played on indoor hard which will suit both teams and there is no decided advantage in that aspect.

On paper The Overrule would expect (as anyone would) Djokovic to win both of his singles rubbers, he holds a 14-2 record over Berydch and both of his defeats came away from hard/indoor court on grass and clay. As well as holding a 8-1 record over Stepanek, with his solitary loss coming way back in 2006 in a deciding set tie-break.

It's the remaining rubbers where the Czechs will feel they could capitalise to defend their title. Despite a losing 2-4 record against Tipsarevic on hard courts Berdych will be a strong favorite to beat the Serbian based on current form. Tipsarevic beat Stepanek in straight sets during the Davis Cup semi-final in 2010 but his form between then and now is drastically different.

Could Tipsarevic be inspired in front of a home crowd and rediscover some of his form of recent years to provide Djokovic with the modicum of help needed to win the title? Sure. That is entirely possible. However, as we currently stand that would appear to be more wishful thinking of the Serbian variety than a likely possibility.

The doubles rubber on the Saturday should favor the Czechs. Berdych/Stepanek have a phenomenal record playing together at Davis Cup level with a 13-1 win/loss record. Among those wins is a 2-0 record against Serbia. In 2012 they beat Nenad Zimonjic and Ilija Bozoljac in straight sets at home and in 2010 they defeated Zimonjic and Djokovic in four sets in Serbia.

It is quite possible that the Czechs will head into Sunday 2-1 up with the pressure on Serbia to overcome the deficit, much like they were able to do during the 2010 semi-final (on that occasion Djokovic was unavailable to play on the opening Friday). The 5/2 available on the Czechs definitely appeals in that sense and could well provide us with an opportunity to manage that position further going into the final day's play.

The Overrule advises a two point selection on the Czechs at 5/2.

2* Czech Republic win Davis Cup at 5/2 (William Hill)

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