Coupling the Davis Cup semi-final favourites and backing Serbia to take out the title for the second time are sound betting options as four countries continue their fight for the premier prize in international men’s team tennis.
Serbia entertains Canada and Davis Cup champion the Czech Republic hosts Argentina in the semi-finals that get under way on Friday 13 September 2013, with the Serbians choosing to play the Canadians on an indoor clay court and the Czechs electing to face the Argentinians on an indoor hard court.
Clearly Serbia officials browsed the history books before deciding to play Canada on a clay court. They would have found that Serbia’s number two men’s singles player, Janko Tipsarevic, has a 0-3 head-to-head record versus Canada star Milos Raonic and that all three matches took place on hard courts. Neither Tipsarevic not Raonic is brilliant on clay courts but the choice of surface levels the playing field.
In all likelihood, Novak Djokovic and Tipsarevic will play the singles rubbers for Serbia, with Tipsarevic teaming up with Nenad Zimonjic in the doubles rubber. Dusan Lajovic makes up Serbia’s squad but he may not see action unless Serbia is safe with one or two rubbers to go. For Canada, Raonic and Vasek Pospisil are its likely singles players, with Pospisil probably partnering doubles specialist Daniel Nestor. Frank Dancevic is Canada’s other squad member.
There is very little in the way of head-to-head form between the Serbia and Canada players. Apart from Tipsarevic against Raonic, the only other statistics pertain to Djokovic versus Dancevic. Djokovic leads Dancevic 2-0 but neither of the six-time Grand Slam men’s singles champion’s wins occurred on a clay court. So one is left to review the current world rankings, both in singles and doubles, and take it from there. With home advantage, the Serbia singles players really ought to win at least three of the rubbers and qualify for the final. One could see Serbia racing to an unassailable 3-0 lead and letting its foot off the gas in the last two singles rubbers, with Djokovic having a well earned rest if Serbia qualifies before Sunday’s matches.
Serbia is trading at surprisingly generous odds of 1.27 with 888sport to knock out Canada and earn the right to play either the Czech Republic at home or Argentina on the road in the Davis Cup decider. Raonic has been in good form on North American hard courts recently but clay courts are not the Montenegro-born Canadian’s cup of tea and the tie, to a large extent, depends upon him beating Djokovic and Tipsarevic in his projected singles assignments.
With no obvious weak links, the Czech Republic is rightly priced at odds of 1.07 with 888sport to defeat Argentina. The Czech Republic’s Tomas Berdych and Lukas Rosol are likely to play Argentina’s Juan Monaco and Carlos Berlocq in the four singles rubbers, with Berdych looking particularly strong. Berdych leads Monaco 6-0 and Berlocq 3-0, with 3-0 and 1-0 records respectively in hard courts.
It is not beyond the realms of possibility that the Czech Republic will call upon Radek Stepanek to play one or two singles rubbers because he has more positive head-to-head form against Argentina’s top guns. Whichever way Czech Republic captain Jaroslav Navratil chooses to go, the defending champion should be too strong for its guest.
The format of the Davis Cup means that the Czech Republic is guaranteed to play Serbia away from home if those two teams make it through to the last stage. That is because the Czech Republic hosted the most recent meeting of the nations, with the Czechs beating the Serbians 4-1 on a Prague clay court last year. Serbia was unable to play Djokovic so the tie result is best taken with a very generous pinch of salt.
Serbia is trading at odds of 1.65 with Youwin to regain the Davis Cup, an offer that is worth taking if one thinks that the semi-final favourites will clash in the title decider. Both of Serbia’s singles stars own their Czech Republic counterparts, with Djokovic leading Berdych 14-2 on all surfaces and 12-0 on hard courts. Tipsarevic enjoys a 5-3 lead over Berdych, which shrinks to 4-2 on hard courts.
A Serbia-Czech Republic tie on a hard court could result in what would be only the second 5-0 whitewash in the last 16 Davis Cup finals. Back Serbia now before its odds crash.