Two of the most recent Davis Cup champions will collide in Belgrade this weekend in the championship showdown of the prestigious men's tennis tournament.
Novak Djokovic and Serbia will host reigning Davis Cup champion, the Czech Republic, on the indoor hard courts inside Belgrade Arena. Five matches will be played over the span of three days, with the first nation to reach three wins securing the title.
The Czechs took four of five matches from Serbia on the indoor clay in Prague in last year's quarterfinals, but fell, 3-2, to their European rivals at Belgrade Arena in the Davis Cup semifinals three years ago.
Home-court advantage has played a key role in this rivalry in recent years, and will be something to watch for this weekend.
With the stage set, here we'll get you ready for the opening serve.
*All information courtesy of DavisCup.com.
When: Friday, Nov. 15, through Sunday, Nov. 17
Where: Belgrade Arena, Belgrade, Serbia
Watch: Tennis Channel (U.S.), British Eurosport (U.K.)
Format and Rules
As mentioned, the 2013 Davis Cup final will consist of five matches, known as rubbers. Day 1 will feature two singles matches, the lone doubles match will be played on Day 2 and then its back to singles action for the final day.
Each match, including doubles, is the best-of-five sets with no tiebreaker in the fifth set.
The same players who participated in singles on Day 1 will likely take the court again on Day 3, but will take on a different opponent.
The first nation to win three rubbers will be crowned Davis Cup champion.
|Friday, Nov. 15||Singles (2)||10 a.m. ET, 3 p.m. GMT||Tennis Channel (U.S.), British Eurosport (U.K.)|
|Saturday, Nov. 16||Doubles (1)||10 a.m. ET, 3 p.m. GMT||Tennis Channel (U.S.), British Eurosport (U.K.)|
|Sunday, Nov. 17||Singles (2)||8 a.m. ET, 1 p.m. GMT||Tennis Channel (U.S.), British Eurosport (U.K.)|
Serbia (Team Captain: Bogdan Obradovic)
Former world No. 1 Novak Djokovic is, hands-down, the best player set to take the court for this weekend's final. A Davis Cup champion in 2010, Djokovic was absolutely superb in leading Serbia to its first-ever Davis Cup title three years ago in Belgrade.
The six-time Grand Slam champion won both of his singles matches in straight sets to help power the Czechs to a 3-2 win over France in the championship tie. Expect more of the same from the "Djoker" in this year's finale.
Janko Tipsarevic (Out, replaced by Dusan Lajovic)
Janko Tipsarevic has experienced a dramatic fall in the world rankings over the past year and recently wrapped up one of the worst seasons of his career. The world No. 36 managed just 20 match wins on tour this past season, but will need to shake his struggles if he hopes to make up for his straight-sets loss in the 2010 Davis Cup final in Belgrade.
Ilija Bozoljac and Nenad Zimonjic
Ilija Bozoljac and Nenad Zimonjic will likely team up for Day 2's doubles match. The two have achieved very little success in singles and have experience playing together. The duo even beat the No. 1-ranked doubles team of Bob and Mike Bryan in the Davis Cup quarterfinals earlier this year.
Czech Republic (Team Captain: Vladimir Safarik)
World No. 7 Tomas Berdych will carry a heavy burden for his country this weekend. The 28-year-old is clearly the Czech Republic's top player, and will need another strong showing in order to power his side. Last year, Berdych and teammate Radek Stepanek won the Davis Cup final by themselves, teaming up in doubles and starring twice in singles.
The Czech Republic's No. 2 singles player, Lukas Rosol, is best known for stunning Rafael Nadal in the second round at Wimbledon in 2012. Although Rosol didn't contribute to the Czechs' victory over Spain last year, he has achieved notable success in both singles and doubles.
Rosol has three career ATP titles to his name, including one in singles that he earned on clay in Romania this April.
A versatile player, Radek Stepanek brings tremendous talent and experience to the table for the defending champions.
In the semifinals earlier this year, the 34-year-old beat Argentina's Juan Monaco in singles and teamed with Berdych to earn a straight-sets win in doubles. Stepanek will enter this weekend's championship tie with loads of confidence as well, having sealed the deal for his country in last year's Davis Cup final against Spain.
Veteran Jan Hajek has appeared in singles and doubles matches during the Czech Republic's 2013 Davis Cup run. He defeated Kazakhstan's Mikhail Kukushkin in straight sets in the quarterfinals and teamed with Stepanek in a loss to the Kazakh doubles team in another quarterfinal rubber.
Based on last year's approach, though, don't expect to see a whole lot of Hajek this weekend.
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