With a 2-1 lead in the Davis Cup Final, the Czech Republic are in a strong position heading into the third and final day of the tie. The Serbian team was dealt a harsh blow this week with the loss of their No. 2 player Janko Tipsarevic and will likely need Dusan Lajovic (Player Profile) to produce a heroic performance against Radek Stepanek (Player Profile) to win the title.
Stepanek may have lost his opening match on Friday afternoon, but he more than made up for it with a crucial doubles victory with teammate Tomas Berdych over Serbian doubles players Bozoljac and Zimonjic. The win put Berdych’s Davic Cup doubles record at 18-1, with nine consecutive victories partnering with Stepanek. The veteran played a calm and patient gave on court today and was certainly the best player on the entire court. This bodes well for his hopes tomorrow as the fifth rubber between himself and Dusan Lajovic is expected to be the deciding rubber, if Djokovic defeats Berdych in the morning.
Lajovic has been thrust in a spot that is quite ill-prepared for. While Stepanek is not the top player on the Czech team, he is an experienced and crafty veteran that will be motivated to lift the trophy for his country a second time over. The World No. 117’s only ever Davis Cup match came in a dead fifth rubber against Sweden in Nis last year and it is hard to imagine he will get another one tomorrow. He will certainly have the support of the local crowd in the Belgrade Arena but whether that will have a positive or negative impact on him is yet to be known. He was decent in his outing against Berdych and could make life difficult for Stepanek tomorrow.
Stepanek has already been a part of a heroic moment in the Davis Cup final last year when he won the fifth and final rubber against Spain to give the Czech Republic their first ever Davis Cup win. He is well on his way to possibly repeating history, this time on Serbian soil. While Lajovic could certainly produce an upset, one would have to assume that the odds now heavily favour the Czech team.
Prediction: Stepanek in Four Sets