Since losing the No. 1 overall ranking to Rafael Nadal, Serbian tennis superstar Novak Djokovic has been unstoppable. He's won all four tournaments that he's participated in and has defeated every active big name he could possibly come across.
Djokovic must now use the Davis Cup final to continue building momentum for a pivotal 2014 season.
Djokovic opened up the Davis Cup with a 7-5, 6-1, 6-4 victory over Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic. It was the first match of what should be a busy weekend for Djokovic, who won the ATP World Tour Finals on Nov. 11.
With Davis Cup teammate Janko Tipsarevic out, Djokovic could see his workload increased.
Janko Tipsarevic ruled out of Davis Cup with heel injury. No. 117 Lajovic gets the nod as the No. 2 Serb. Djokovic may have to play doubles.— Beyond The Baseline (@SI_BTBaseline) November 14, 2013
That could spell trouble against a Czech Republic squad that won the 2012 Davis Cup, but who's going to bet against Djoker? I certainly won't.
Djokovic isn't the most accomplished doubles player, but that's not the story that should be focused on at the 2013 Davis Cup. The true focus is on his singles play, where Djokovic has flat-out dominated opponents in 2014.
Djokovic will be tested with an upcoming singles match against Tomas Berdych. Per ATPWorldTour.com, Berdych is currently ranked No. 7 in the world. He reached the quarterfinals at both the Australian Open and Wimbledon in 2013.
This is the type of match that Djokovic needs to win in order to continue developing his game.
Who is the best player in the world?
Djokovic had a brilliant season in 2013, winning the Australian Open and reaching the semifinals in each of the other three Grand Slam events. He reached the finals at the U.S. Open and Wimbledon and fell to Rafael Nadal in an instant classic during the semifinals of the French Open.
Unfortunately, Djokovic's brilliance transpired during Nadal's dominance.
Nadal returned from an injury absence to win both the French Open and U.S. Open. He defeated Djokovic in both events and eventually worked his way up to No. 1 in the world.
Djokovic is now playing from a position that he hasn't been in since his breakout 2011 campaign: behind.
Djokovic won the Australian Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open in 2011 but has since come up short in every Grand Slam but the one in Melbourne. His consistency is remarkable, reaching the quarterfinals in every Grand Slam since the 2009 Wimbledon.
Unfortunately, Djokovic's legacy will be compared to the other two titans of his time: Nadal and Roger Federer. Reaching finals doesn't count for much in that company. Not when Federer has a record 17 Grand Slam titles, and Nadal just added two more in 2013 to reach 13.
If he wasn't before, Djokovic must be working with a sense of urgency.
Djokovic has dominated the Australian Open in the same way that Nadal has Roland Garros, but he needs to achieve victory at the other Grand Slams to truly enter the same legendary category as the Spaniard and Swiss stars. Until then, his dominance will go under-appreciated.
Djokovic is certainly playing like the best in the world and continuing to develop his momentum at the Davis Cup would be nothing short of beneficial for his 2014 campaign. His skill level is on par with Nadal's, and in 2014, he can cut into the deficit in terms of all-time legacy.
Whether you love him or hate him, Djokovic is in rare company when it comes to pure ability. Dominance at the Davis Cup would do nothing but set him up for brilliance in 2014.