Belgrade Arena is fast becoming a fortress for Serbian men’s tennis.
Novak Djokovic and Co have already sent USA and Czech Republic packing during this year’s campaign, and they will be hoping for a similar result when France comes to town for the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Final on 3-5 December.
It’s going to be Serbia’s first appearance in the Final, so what better place to play than in the country’s capital city and at a venue where they have never lost.
Bogdan Obradovic, the Serbian captain, has selected a hard court to be laid at the 16,200 capacity indoor stadium, which is sure to provide an electric atmosphere for the end-of-year showdown.
It isn’t going to be one-way traffic, though, as France has a deep squad that is full of talent. Gael Monfils has led the charge in the last two ties, but captain Guy Forget is hoping to have the injured Jo-Wilfried Tsonga back in the frame for the trip to Belgrade.
Michael Llodra has also been a star performer in 2010, playing singles and doubles with equal quality. Other players have contributed as well, including an impressive debut season for Julien Benneteau.
France has reached the Final with home victories over Germany 4-1, Spain 5-0 and Argentina 5-0, and Forget’s men are yet to lose a live rubber. It’s an ominous record if you’re a Serbian fan.
Serbia, on the other hand, has endured a tougher route to the Final, having come through a local derby against Croatia 4-1 in Split, sandwiched between hard fought home wins over USA 3-2 and Czech Republic 3-2.
Obradovic has had the luxury of naming an unchanged line-up all year, with world No. 2 Djokovic spearheading the challenge. It’s not a one-man show, however, far from it. Janko Tipsarevic and Viktor Troicki have both recorded important singles wins, and Nenad Zimonjic has provided a reassuring presence on the doubles court.
Serbia has home advantage and will benefit from playing in front of a noisy and passionate Belgrade crowd, but the chosen court surface doesn’t favour either team over the other. This Final is shaping up to be one of the closest for many years.