Rafael Nadal may be the No.1 ranked tennis player in the world, but Novak Djokovic is the man who will light up the Davis Cup final between Nov. 15-17.
Serbia's giant hero is also the player to be most frightened of heading into the 2014 Grand Slam season.
Unfortunately placed as the man Nadal ousted from the top of the ATP rankings, Djokovic takes centre stage in the Davis Cup showdown with a Czech Republic team that is brimming with talent.
As reported by the ATP’s official website, the current champions are made up of Tomas Berdych, Lukas Rosol, Radek Stepanek and Jan Hajek, a team that—minus the inclusion of Hajek—overcame a fiercely competitive semifinal clash with Argentina to reach the World Group final in Belgrade.
The home support will pin their hopes on Djokovic, a player whose fierce power and willingness to battle places Serbia in an excellent position to capture the prize.
As nervous fans settle down to watch Janko Tipsarevic, Ilija Bozoljac and Nenad Zimonjic reinforce Djokovic's push for the title—a squad that doesn’t possess the same all-round quality as their Czech visitors—the confidence of the true world No. 1 will come to the fore.
Djokovic's convincing win over Nadal at the World Tours Final is testimony of this. The 26-year-old steamrollered his Spanish rival 6-3, 6-4 at the O2 Arena, extending his run of unbeaten matches to 22, per Piers Newbery of BBC Sport.
It was a win that, beyond providing Djokovic with a hat-trick of triumphs in the end-of-season tournament, leaves a lasting impression on Nadal.
Although Djokovic always has an advantage when playing indoors, the way in which he bettered his long-time challenger holds great importance for the coming year.
Djokovic was more than happy to do battle from the baseline, inviting Nadal’s returns with confidence and invention.
He pressured his opponent into uncharacteristic mistakes and only once failed to take advantage of a vital situation that was heavily in his favour—a missed backhand as he looked to go 4-0 up.
Nadal’s four double-faults acted as contrast to Djokovic’s huge ace to clinch the first set. From here, this year’s Wimbledon runner-up toyed with Rafa's lack of conviction.
This notion was confirmed when the struggling top seed fired a forehand wide of the mark to give the Serb a morale-boosting victory at the season’s close.
Djokovic couldn’t have asked for a better win heading into the Davis Cup showdown.
Not only does it provide the six-time Grand Slam winner with a fearlessness that will give the rest of Serbia’s squad confidence, his match-winning roar will echo through Nadal’s head until the duo do battle once more.
The pair will share the court soon enough, you can be sure of that. Next time they do, Djokovic must reiterate the sense of dominance he so easily exerted in London. His best tennis comes when he is on the attack and able to lure opponents into a false sense of security.
Nadal may think he is safe at the top, but if Djokovic builds on his World Tour Final win by capturing the Davis Cup, it’s only a matter of time before the tennis throne is fit for a new king.
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