Who Will Win The 2013 Davis Cup Final?
Can the Czech Republic win back to back Davis Cup Finals? Today on the blog The Sultan delivers his 2013 Davis Cup Final betting analysis.
This Friday sees the start of the final tennis tournament of the season: the Davis Cup Final. This is the culmination of a year of knock-out team tennis, with 16 nations whittled down to two - Serbia and the Czech Republic, who will compete in Belgrade over 3 days to win the world's largest annual, international team competition. Davis Cup began in 1900 as a competition between the USA and Great Britain. From 1905 onwards, more and more nations were invited to take part until in 1981, the format was changed to the one that is used today; a 16 nation World Group, who compete for the trophy, with the remaining 114 nations split into regional zones who compete for promotion and relegation to the World Group.
Spain have dominated Davis Cup in recent times, winning 4 of the last 6 years. But both this year's finalists won it the other 2 times; Serbia in 2010 and the Czechs last year. So the winning teams from both those finals are almost identical.
2013 Davis Cup Final Odds - Odds as at 14th November 2013.
Davis Cup is a best of 5 match (rubber) format. Friday will see the first two singles rubbers take place, with 4 nominated singles players on show in best of 5 set matches. Saturday sees the one doubles rubber and if the score is not 3 rubbers to 0 to either team after this match, we go into a final day on Sunday, where 2 further singles rubbers could potentially take place.
It's important to note that team captains (who don't actually play but have a coaching role, which includes on-court coaching allowed at any time between games) can pick from any one of 4 nominated team members to play in these rubbers. This means the betting markets could be set up expecting a certain line-up for rubber 4 and 5, that turns out to be wrong, as captains select different players from rubbers 1 and 2. So be vigilant if looking to place early bets.
A tiring season ends with yet another final - his fifth in a row. He won the other 4 (Beijing, Shanghai, Paris and the World Tour Final in London) taking his winning run to 22 matches but could this be a week too far? He's obviously the least fresh of all the players and whilst over 3 sets, you probably wouldn't question his fitness, over 5 sets? There is a doubt there, in my opinion. Especially if he plays two singles rubbers and doubles. If they go the distance, you'd have to think even he will suffer. This is where home advantage might just help to give him the extra push he needs to get over the finish line.
Djokovic has dropped only one set in Davis Cup this year but I certainly would be looking for his opponents to take sets off him and would steer well clear of 3-0 in the set betting markets.
News has come in that Tipsarevic may not play the final. He has a heel injury which won't be fully recovered and he claims he will decide whether to play on Thursday, after the draw is made. Despite winning a title in the first week of 2013 in Chennai, it has been downhill all the way since for Tipsarevic, dropping ranking massively from 9 to 36. He's also on a 4 match losing streak and has only played 2 Davis Cup matches this year, one of which he lost in the semi finals against Canada.
With Serbia much weaker than when they won in 2010, due to Viktor Troicki's ban for failing to take a drug test, they needed a fit and firing Tipsarevic as he's likely to feature in both singles rubbers. If it goes to a deciding 5th rubber, he'll almost certainly play, so is he the man you'd want in the crunch, pressure match? Especially when not 100% fit.
Iliya Bozaljac and Nenad Zimonjic
Zimonjic is ranked 14 in doubles, whilst Bozaljac is just 283 but the two play together regularly for Serbia. They beat the greatest ever doubles team, the Bryan brothers in the quarter finals against the USA, so they do have pedigree. But they lost the semi final rubber to Canada and were thrashed 3-0 in last year's quarter finals by guess who? The same team they are likely to face on Saturday - Berdych and Stepanek. So having a specialist doubles team might not be the advantage they hope for. There is also the chance that, with Tipsarevic out, one of these two will have to play singles.
Has won all 5 of his Davis Cup rubbers this year, including 2 doubles matches partnering Stepanek, so he is the key man again this time. Currently ranked 7 but has had a disappointing year, with no title and no great form coming into this weekend, he needs to step up a level if he's going to worry Djokovic. But he'll fancy his chances against Tipsarevic and in the doubles, having beaten the Serbian pair 3-0 in 2012.
The hero of the 2012 Davis Cup Final, beating Nicolas Almagro to take the title in the deciding rubber in front of his home fans, Stepanek comes to Belgrade fresh off the back of a disappointing early exit at the World Tour Finals in London. He partnered Leander Paes there and is ranked 9 in doubles, so is a crucial member of the team and could feature in 3 rubbers, as he did in 2012. He played the semi final singles against Argentina, beating Juan Monaco, so I would expect him to get the nod for the first singles rubber at least. One of those players who raises his game when national pride is at stake.
Unlikely to start ahead of Stepanek, though is finishing the season with a bit of form, taking a set off David Ferrer in Paris and reaching a Challenger final last week. His indoor record is good and he's only ranked 4 spots below Stepanek, so if Radek is feeling below par after 2 tough rubbers on consecutive days, Rosol may well be drafted in to play the crucial deciding 5th rubber. Almost certainly it'll be against Tipsarevic and if that match up happens, I wouldn't say it's a foregone conclusion by any stretch. He's got it in him to blast anyone off the court, as he showed in that famous victory over Nadal at Wimbledon 2012.
Highly unlikely to take any part in this final but has partnered Stepanek in doubles before and played a singles rubber in the quarter final against Kazakhstan. If he does play, you'll know something is seriously wrong with the Czech team!
What To Watch For
For me, Berdych and Tipsarevic are the key players. Berdych will probably play 3 matches and as the top 2 seeds normally meet in the 4th rubber on day 3, that means he will face Djokovic after playing the doubles - not exactly ideal preparation for facing the current form player in the world. He'll need to beat Tipsarevic on day 1, that is for certain. Failure there would mean he probably would need to win the doubles and beat Djokovic - a tall order!
Tipsarevic is the unknown quantity though. This final may just be the saving grace of his season and I would not be surprised if he really turned it on in front of his home fans. Troicki was preferred over him for the 2010 deciding rubber. Maybe 2012 is Tipsarevic's turn to be the hero? However, if he is suffering from this heel injury or if a replacement comes in for him, Serbia are in big trouble. They don't have anyone else ranked high enough to seriously cause problems in singles and that could mean they make Djokovic play the doubles with Zimonjic, as it becomes probably the crucial tie.
Who Will Win It?
This is a very difficult to predict final, especially without knowing the Tipsarevic situation. If he's fit, every rubber could go either way (though I don't see Stepanek causing Djokovic too many problems). With that in mind, the value could be in going against any favourite, especially with this being over 5 sets. I can see plenty of twists and turns in most matches.
I would also argue that Serbia are worth a lay (1.48 on Betdaq currently) as I think this could be closer than the odds suggest, especially if Tipsarevic pulls out. Of course, if Tipsarevic does beat Berdych on day 1 (and Djokovic disposes of Stepanek as expected) that would be a huge mountain to climb. Although I will definitely be putting in a speculative lay if that happens, as the remaining 3 rubbers are all winnable for the Czechs.
If Tipsarevic drops out, Djokovic becomes the key man, as he'll probably play doubles and need to win, with Tipsarevic's replacement unlikely to win his singles matches. Three matches in a row is tough on Djokovic and the pressure would be enormous. It's certainly a fascinating tie!
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