Both favorites breezed on the first day of the Davis Cup final between Serbia and France in Belgrade. Gael Monfils opened the tie with a straight-set victory over Janko Tipsarevic. Then Novak Djokovic got Serbia on the board with a solid three setter over Gilles Simon.
And so far decisions to change their singles No. 2 by both teams look like failures early on. Neither Tipsarevic nor Simon could manage even a set today making me wonder if Michael Llodra and/or Viktor Troicki could have fared better.
Both bencherwarmers, however, are scheduled to get their shot Saturday in a pivotal doubles clash. As of now it’s Nenad Zimonjic teaming with Troicki to face Arnuad Clement and Llodra. But might Serbia substitute Djokovic in?
If I’m Serbian coach Bogdan Obradovic and I detect any wavering or apprehension from either Tipsarevic or Troicki in regards to playing a fifth and deciding rubber Sunday, I’m putting Novak in.
In my mind Clement/Llodra are the favorites to win tomorrow, but that’s against a Novak-less Serbian doubles team. With Djokovic on court with Troicki I give Serbia the edge. But it could come with a price?
If the doubles match goes long might Novak be drained for his singles on Sunday? Perhaps.
So it is decision time Sunday for Serbia: Sub in Novak or stick with Nenad to play with Troicki?
And for France, the doubles Saturday is an absolute must win. A loss and Novak will seal it on Sunday.
“The doubles match will probably be crucial,” said French captain Guy Forget. “We’re going to do everything we can to win it tomorrow and try to play, once again, very consistent tennis.”
If France wins the doubles to pull ahead 2-1, Novak should level things by beating Monfils Sunday – unless he’s completely exhausted from a possible Saturday doubles I do think he’ll beat Monfils.
Then, if necessary, in the finale and with everything on the line it will be some combination of Tipsy or Troicki vs. Llodra or Simon.
With the prospect of facing a deficit on Sunday, Djokovic is already trying to rally the fans.
“We just invite everybody to give us even better support tomorrow and on Sunday because we need that,” Djokovic said.
“This competition depends on crowd support and energy that the crowd gives to the player. That’s why this competition is very unpredictable and unique, especially at the later stages of the Davis Cup where you play top players.”
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