Belgrade is gearing up for the Davis Cup Tennis finals this weekend. Serbia is hosting France in the finals. I took the photo above during an earlier round in the Davis Cup, when Serbia defeated the USA here in Belgrade last spring. Since then, they went on to win at Croatia in the quarterfinals this summer, and earlier this fall, came back from behind to beat the Czech Republic.
There is a really good New York Times article this week about the Novak Djokovic family and Serbian tennis. It appears that Serbia is the favorite. They are at home in the friendly hard court confines of the Belgrade Arena. They have the world’s #3 player in Novak Djokovic, who should get 2 wins. It would then take one more win by Serbia to clinch the best of 5 series. If Djokovic falters, then Serbia could be in trouble. Assuming Novak comes through, where will they get the other win? France will be playing with world #12 Gael Monfils, who is one of my favorite players to watch because of his exciting and risky style of play. They are also bringing 30 year old Michael Llodra who is in top form as the world #23 player. He beat Novak last month in Paris at an ATP-100 tourney event. Serbia will counter with either world #30 Victor Troiki, or world #49 Janko Tipsarevic. Janko was the hero against the Czech Republic last round and I hope they use him, despite the lower ranking. The doubles match will be interesting also with Serbian veteran and world double #3 Nenad Zimonjic.
There is a lot of pressure on the Serbs playing at home, but there will also be a lot of support, which could rattle the French. Guy Forget, the Captain of the French team, has been playing up the “we’re going to a hostile scene” and the “Serb fans could get violent” cards in the media. A good strategy to get his players pumped up.
I won’t be able to attend the games this weekend, sadly. Nadia is going on her annual girls shopping and dining trip to Budapest, Hungary and I’ll be alone with the kids. We’ll watch the matches on TV. The Davis Cup web site will also carry live radio broadcast as well as a blog by The London Times reporter, Clive White, who is here in Belgrade to cover the matches. It really inspires me to play more tennis and get my children started in a tennis academy.
I would like to wrap up this post with a prediction. It is tough not knowing what the match ups will be as both teams are keeping their selections private until the day of the games. It would be nice for Serbia to win. The Serbs are much more fanatic and passionate about tennis than the French are and a win for Serbia would mean much to nation. I predict Serbia winning 3 – 2.