The second rubber on the opening day of the Davis Cup 2013 Final is between World No. 7 Tomas Berdych (Player Profile) and Dusan Lajovic (Player Profile), who replaces injured Janko Tipsarevic. This is the first time these two meet on the professional tour and easily the biggest challenge Lajovic has faced in his young career.
Berdych has had a decent season in 2013 but was unable to win a single ATP World Tour Title after finishing runner-up on three separate occasions. The Czech No. 1 reached the semi-finals in Beijing and the quarter-final in Paris before arriving in London for the Tour Finals. He only managed to win one match against David Ferrer and lost his other two round robin matches to Stanislas Wawrinka and Rafael Nadal. Since his exit from London, Berdych has been in Belgrade preparing for the final tournament of the season.
While the 28-year-old is the clear favourite heading into the contest, he admits that he is certainly not going to underestimate the youngster and sees a potential threat in him.
“There is going to be a bit of scouting,” he admitted. “I’ve never played him, I’ve never seen him play any match but I think the guys around the team and my coach will help me with that. For me the most important thing is to stay focused and play my best.”
The world No. 117’s only ever Davis Cup match came in a dead fifth rubber against Sweden in Nis last year. This is highly contrasting to the position he is in on Friday as the second singles player on the Serbian team. He will play a crucial match against Tomas Berdych following the opening match between Djokovic and Stepanek. Lajovic has lost all four tour-level matches he has played this year, with his last tour victory coming in April 2012 against Russian Evgeny Donskoy. While that may be the case, he did win his second Challenger title of the season just two weeks ago in Seoul. This will mark Lajovic’s first ever best-of-five set match.
“I would say it’s very exciting,” said Lajovic. “I have been feeling like this since I heard the news. I hope that this positive energy will lead me to play my best game on Friday. To play for your country in such an important match is incredible.
“From one side, Tomas will be the toughest player I have ever played. From the other side, maybe the good thing could be that he doesn’t know me so I might have some advantage in the opening games of the match. I just hope that I can give my best and try to surprise him.”
The loss of Janko Tipsarevic is a significant blow to the Serbian team, as Lajovic does not have the experience that he does and that will be evident in the match tomorrow afternoon. It is possible that the young Serb approaches the match with a “nothing to lose” mentality but he will need to play a perfect match to simply remain competitive with the towering Czech. It will be interesting to see if he is capable of producing an inspired performance in front of his countrymen. A win would certainly make him close to a national hero.
Prediction: Berdych in Straight Sets