There are 100 days to go until the draw takes place for the 2013 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Final so we thought we would take a look at the contenders this year:
Since their return to the World Group in 2002 Argentina has been the most consistent team in the competition and is the only nation not to have lost in the first round in that time.
They hold the most unwanted of records, however, becoming the only nation to reach four finals and never win the Davis Cup when they lost to Spain in Seville in 2011.
The Argentines passion for the competition is plain for all to see but they face a very tough task if they are to dethrone the reigning champions at the O2 Arena in Prague.
This time last year Argentina were preparing to host the Czechs in Buenos Aires and the general consensus was that the final would be contested by the South Americans given their strength at Parque Roca.
This year the boot is firmly on the other foot with only the most diehard of Argentine fans labelling their country as favourites going into a semifinal on what is sure to be a quick indoor hard court against a team that is full of confidence.
Whether we will be talking about that old adage that “ranking means nothing in Davis Cup” remains to be seen but one thing is for sure – Martin Jaite’s team will be out for revenge against Tomas Berdych and co for the pain they inflicted a year ago. Expect the unexpected.
It’s unknown territory for Canada having never previously won a World Group tie prior to this year’s competition but the North Americans are loving their new-found billing as Davis Cup dark horse.
The last time a nation burst onto the scene in such a spectacular way was when Serbia won their first-ever Davis Cup tie in 2010 and went on to win the title at the Belgrade Arena.
Fast forward three years and Canada find themselves in exactly the same situation in exactly the same venue. What’s even more interesting is that the Canadian team have strong links to Serbia, with Daniel Nestor being born in Belgrade and Frank Dancevic still maintaining close ties with the country of his father’s birth.
Canada remain the surprise contenders for the Davis Cup Final, but should they do the unthinkable and win in September they are guaranteed a home final. Cue flashbacks to 2010...
The No. 1 team on the Davis Cup Nations Ranking are also the reigning champions and with a home tie against a team that typically prefers to play on clay one would have to think that the Czechs remain firm favourites to reach the last two for a second successive year.
Tomas Berdych has been consistently good all year, while Lukas Rosol has found some form to put him in a position to challenge Radek Stepanek’s place as the Czech No. 2 in singles.
There is no doubt that Jaroslav Navratil’s men will be lifted by the vociferous home crowd at the O2 Arena and just like in last year’s final the Czech fans could prove to be a vital factor in the outcome of the tie against Argentina.
Should they win, the Czechs are going to have to travel to Canada or Serbia for the final so they will be hoping that the crowd leaves an indelible mark on their eardrums.
When you have the world No. 1 on your team it makes life a lot easier. Of course there are no guarantees that Novak Djokovic will win both his singles rubbers – especially when facing the devastating serve of Milos Raonic – but his presence on the Serbian team gives everyone a boost.
As such Serbia will go into their semifinal against Canada believing that they can win to reach the final for the second time. Should they play Argentina in the last two they will be on a plane to Buenos Aires, while a final against Czech Republic will more than likely be hosted at the Belgrade Arena once again.
Janko Tipsarevic has missed the last two rounds of Davis Cup due to a foot injury but the former Top 10 player will need to be back – in large part due to the absence of Viktor Troicki – if Serbia are going to remain favourites not only for the final but also the title.