TENNIS: The following is a preview to the 2013 Davis Cup final, which will be contested between Serbia and Czech Republic from 15 to 17 November.
> These sides have met 11 times before and three times in the World Group era (1981-present). In the semifinals in 2010, Serbia won 3-2 on Belgrade’s hardcourt. This was also the two teams’ only previous meeting in Belgrade. In last year’s quarterfinals, the Czechs triumphed 4-1 on clay in Prague’s O2 Arena. In 1991, Yugoslavia beat Czechoslovakia 4-1 in the quarterfinals in Prague. The Czechs lead their all-time series 6-5.
> In 17 of the last 21 Davis Cup finals, the team that won the opening rubber of the final also won the cup. However, three of the last five Davis Cup finals have been won by the side that lost the opening match.
> Each of the last four Davis Cup finals have been won by the home side. Twenty of the 32 finals in the World Group era have been won by the home team.
> In 25 of the previous 32 finals in the World Group era, the fifth rubber was contested. In seven others, it was not played as the previous four matches had already forced a decision.
> Eight of those 25 fifth rubbers were actually ‘live’, meaning that the trophy was at stake. This includes last year’s fifth match in which the Czech Republic’s Radek Stepánek defeated Spain’s Nicolás Almagro in four sets.
> Serbia are hoping to win the Davis Cup for the second time after conquering the trophy in 2010. In that year, they saw off France 3-2 in the final at the Belgrade Arena. That is Serbia’s only previous Davis Cup final to date.
> In 2010, Serbia had vanquished the Czech Republic 3-2 in the semifinals in Belgrade.
> If Serbia win the trophy, they will become the 10th country to win the Davis Cup on more than one occasion.
> As defending champions, Serbia were eliminated in the 2011 semifinals by Argentina. That is their only defeat in the Davis Cup at the current venue, the Belgrade Arena.
> Novak Djokovic has won his last 22 singles matches on the ATP Tour, after losing the final of the US Open to Rafael Nadal in September.
> Djokovic has a 72-9 won-lost record in 2013 , including a 51-5 score on hardcourts. One of his nine defeats in 2013 has come facing Czech opposition, against Tomás Berdých in Rome last May. That match was played on clay.
> Djokovic responded by beating Berdých in the quarterfinals at Wimbledon, raising his career track record to 14-2 against him.
> Djokovic’s singles performance against the other Czech team members: Radek Stepánek 8-1, Lukás Rosol 2-0, Jan Hájek 1-0.
> Djokovic is 24-7 career-wise in Davis Cup singles matches. This includes a win over Latvia’s Janis Skroderis in Belgrade in April 2004, his first career senior singles match. He has won 10 out of his last 11 singles matches in the Davis Cup, the exception being his semifinal encounter with Argentina’s Juan Martín Del Potro in 2011, from which he was forced to retire three games into the second set.
> With Janko Tipsarevic out injured and Viktor Troicki suspended, Dusan Lajovic, the world number 117, has been called upon to play singles matches, of which he has contested only one of in the Davis Cup, his dead rubber win over Sweden’s Filip Prpic in last year’s Last 16 round.
> Serbia reached the 2013 Davis Cup final by beating Belgium 3-2 away in the Last 16, United States 3-1 away in the quarterfinals and Canada 3-2 at home in the semis.
> Czech Republic are hoping to retain the Davis Cup they won last year, the second time they won this trophy, following their triumph in 1980. That initial victory took place in the last year of Davis Cup competition before the World Group era (1981-present) began.
> Czech Republic can become the fifth country in the World Group era to win the Davis Cup in back-to-back years. They would join the United States (1981, 1982), Sweden (1984, 1985, 1986, 1987 and 1997, 1998), Germany (1988, 1989) and Spain (2008, 2009).
> In Davis Cup history tracking back to the start of the competition in 1900, Czech Republic can become the eighth country to have won the Davis Cup on at least three occasions. They are seeking to join United States (32), Australia (28), Great Britain (9), France (9), Sweden (7), Spain (5) and Germany (3).
> Czech Republic reached the 2013 Davis Cup final by beating Switzerland 3-2 away in the Last 16, Kazakhstan 3-1 away in the quarterfinals and Argentina 3-2 at home in the semis.
> Kazakhstan is the last team t beat Czech Republic in the Davis Cup, doing so in the Last 16 in 2011.