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Novak Djokovic's Keys to Victory vs. Tomas Berdych in 2013 Davis Cup Final

BELGRADE, SERBIA - NOVEMBER 15: Novak Djokovic of Serbia plays a forehand against Radek Stepanek of Czech Republic during the day one of the final Davis Cup match between Serbia and Czech Republic on November 15, 2013 in Belgrade, Serbia. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)
Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images
Patrick ClarkeCorrespondent INovember 16, 2013

There'll be much more than points and prize money at stake when Novak Djokovic and Tomas Berdych go head-to-head on the final day of 2013 Davis Cup action on Sunday in Belgrade.

As past Davis Cup champions, the two world-class players will be playing for their respective countries this weekend.

But despite the high stakes, former world No. 1 Djokovic will be a heavy favorite when he takes to the court. After all, he's won 23 consecutive singles matches and has beaten Berdych 14 times in 16 tries. Not to mention he won their only previous Davis Cup encounter back in 2010.

Still, anything can happen when two of the planet's best square off.

With that in mind, let's take a look at Djokovic's keys to victory in his final singles rubber vs. Berdych this weekend. 

*Player statistics courtesy of ATPWorldTour.com

 

Start Fast

An obvious but crucial key for Djokovic will be jumping out to a fast start on Sunday. It's no secret that he's virtually unbeatable when he wins the first set. Plus, in a best-of-five-set match, the opponent is faced with the uphill task of having to win three sets, not two.

A quick start from Djokovic will get the pro-Serbian crowd stirring and allow him to develop some confidence in his swing and his game plan.

Since Berdych has rarely defeated Djokovic in the past, a strong entrance for the Serb is likely to generate doubt in the Czech player's mind. 

 

Zero In on Second-Serve Return

BELGRADE, SERBIA - NOVEMBER 15: Novak Djokovic of Serbia plays a backhand against Radek Stepanek of Czech Republic during the day one of the final Davis Cup match between Serbia and Czech Republic on November 15, 2013 in Belgrade, Serbia. (Photo by Srdjan
Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images

At 6'5", Berdych boasts one of the best serves in men's tennis. The Czech star possesses exceptional power and can do a significant amount of damage with his serve on most hard-court surfaces. Keep in mind that he has over 600 aces in 2013.

Consequently, Djokovic will need to dig deep and zero in whenever he finds himself set to return a second serve from Berdych. While it's commonplace for players to have more success on their first serve than their second, the Czech has had a significant drop-off in 2013.

While Djokovic has won 75 percent of his first-serve points and 60 percent of his second-serve points on tour this season, Berdych has posted marks of 78 percent and 52 percent, respectively.

Clearly, there are points to be won off Berdych's second serve. In addition the short-term gains of earning points off Berdych's second serve has long-term effects that are sure to benefit Djokovic. The more success he has, the more likely Berdych is to go bigger on his first and second serves, which could lead to double faults and easy points for Djokovic.

 

Continue to Put First Serve in Play

BELGRADE, SERBIA - NOVEMBER 15: Novak Djokovic of Serbia serves the ball to Radek Stepanek of Czech Republic during the day one of the final Davis Cup match between Serbia and Czech Republic at Kombank Arena on November 15, 2013 in Belgrade, Serbia. (Phot
Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images

Djokovic has done a much better job than Berdych when it comes to getting his first serve into the box on hard courts this season, and continuing to doing so will be key for the Serb in Sunday's match.

Berdych ranks 48th on tour, connecting at a clip of 58 percent while Djokovic is one of only a dozen players on tour to post a mark of 65 percent or higher. As a result, Djokovic is likely to dictate more points during his service games and less likely to find himself in pressure-packed situations where he's relying on his second serve to bail him out. 

Djokovic isn't known for recording a ton of aces, but that should not be a problem against Berdych. So long as he's putting a high percentage of his first serves in play, Djokovic will be in control of a majority of his service points, leaving Berdych with very few opportunities to break.

 

Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter. 

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