Davis Cup Final 2013: Last-Minute Preview for Sunday's Action

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistNovember 17, 2013

BELGRADE, SERBIA - NOVEMBER 16: Radek Stepanek (C) of Czech Republic celebrates victory with team-mates after the men's doubles match on day two of the Davis Cup World Group Final between Serbia and Czech Republic at Kombank Arena on November 16, 2013 in Belgrade, Serbia. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)
Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images

It all comes down to Sunday at the Davis Cup.

Serbia took a quick 1-0 lead after Novak Djokovic beat Radek Stepanek. But then Tomas Berdych took care of Dusan Lajovic, while the doubles team of Berdych and Stepanek beat Ilija Bozoljac and Nenad Zimonjic to give the Czech Republic a 2-1 lead.

Now all the Czechs need is one win on Sunday to take the title. With two chances to make that happen, you'd like their odds.

It should be an enjoyable day of action, especially with the Belgrade crowd trying to spur their countrymen on to victory.

 

When: Sunday, Nov. 17, at 8 a.m. ET

Where: Belgrade Arena, Belgrade, Serbia

Watch: Tennis Channel

Live Stream: TennisChannel.com

 

Novak Djokovic vs. Tomas Berdych

BELGRADE, SERBIA - NOVEMBER 15: Novak Djokovic of Serbia  celebrate a point 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 Srdj
Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images

Serbia couldn't have asked for more, as its best player holds their Davis Cup fate in his hands. In addition, for his career, Novak Djokovic is 14-2 against Tomas Berdych.

In short, it's looking likely that Serbia will be able to push this to the deciding fifth match.

The only person in the world who looks like he can stop Djokovic is Rafael Nadal. So unless Nadal can claim residency in Prague, the Czechs are in trouble.

The Djoker is playing great tennis at the moment. Even at this late stage in the season, he's playing at his highest level. His groundstrokes remain crisp, and he hasn't run into any stamina issues, even after all the tennis he's played this year.

That this match is five sets only helps Djokovic as well. If this is best-of-three, perhaps you could see an opening for Berdych. All he would need is two sets to win. Instead, he must get the better of Djokovic in three sets.

The longer the match goes, though, the more you favor Djokovic. His gas tank never hits empty, and when his opponent starts to wilt in the fourth and fifth sets, that's when the Djoker takes over.

The only way the Czech can win is to take the first set and finish things off before the fifth.

Don't count on it, though, so expect that critical fifth match.

 

Dusan Lajovic vs. Radek Stepanek

BELGRADE, SERBIA - NOVEMBER 16: Radek Stepanek (R) of Czech Republic speaks to team-mate Tomas Berdych during their men's doubles match on day two of the Davis Cup World Group Final between Serbia and Czech Republic at Kombank Arena on November 16, 2013 i
Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images

The bad news for Serbia is that Dusan Lajovic is 0-4 on the ATP Tour this year and ranked 117th. The good news is that he's such an unknown quantity that he could spring a surprise on Radek Stepanek. After all, it's hard to prepare for a player you've never seen before.

Only 23 years old, Lajovic's best days are still ahead—just not this quickly. It's probably asking too much of him to come up big at the Davis Cup final this early in his career.

Lajovic lost his first match of the final in three sets to Berdych, 3-6, 4-6, 3-6. The gulf between the two players was clear, as the Serb just didn't have what it took to pull off the upset.

Although Stepanek is ranked 44th, you'd expect more of the same on Sunday. The Czech is simply the better player, and over five sets, he should be able to assert his dominance. The 34-year-old will come to the net early and often. That's his bread and butter, and Lajovic will likely have a hard time figuring out how to stop it.