The draw for this weekend’s Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Final has thrown up an intriguing first day’s play with Gael Monfils set to get proceedings underway against Janko Tipsarevic at 2pm local time.
Monfils, who is unbeaten in Davis Cup singles rubbers so far this year, will be looking to get his side off to the perfect start, but he will have to overcome Serbia’s semifinals hero, Tipsarevic.
The charismatic Serbian claimed two vital points for his country against the Czech Republic in the Belgrade Arena and his opponent is hoping the pressure of the home crowd could work to his advantage.
“I know Janko,” said Monfils. “He will be very nervous because he plans to come out first on the court in front of the Serbian crowd. It will be tough for him. I will try to be very relaxed and just play my game.”
The second singles match tomorrow sees Serbia’s No. 1 Novak Djokovic up against France’s Gilles Simon.
There was much speculation about who Guy Forget would pick as his team’s No. 2 and it looks like he has opted to rest Michael Llodra for what could be a pivotal doubles rubber on Saturday in favour of former Top 10 player Simon.
Asked for the reason behind his decision, Forget said: “It’s always a tough choice to choose someone because you let someone down. I expect Gilles to play a great match against Novak. I expect Michael to play great doubles with Arnaud [Clement]. They’ve done so many times in the past.
“In my opinion, that was the best choice for the French team. The Sunday matches probably will count. That leaves me probably some more options doing it this way.”
And Djokovic didn’t seemed surprised by the French decision to go with Simon in the singles, hinting that the Serbian team had expected Forget to make that particular call.
“That’s what we kind of expected,” Djokovic said. “Regardless of who I play, I have to be on top of my game. It’s the finals of Davis Cup. Everybody will try to perform their best and everybody will have a lot of motivation to play great tennis in these three days.”
With so little to choose between the two teams, it is expected that this tie could go to a third and final day.
If that is the case all eyes will be on the match-up of the No. 1’s. Djokovic is scheduled to play Monfils first on Sunday and there’s no doubt that this will be a crucial rubber in the outcome of the tie.
Should proceedings go to a decisive fifth rubber, Tipsarevic will have to repeat his heroics of the semifinals once again in front of an expectant home crowd.
Full draw for the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas FInal
Friday (play starts at 14:00 local time; 13:00 GMT)
R1 - Janko Tipsarevic (SRB v Gael Monfils (FRA)
R2- Novak Djokovic (SRB) v Gilles Simon (FRA)
Saturday (play starts at 13:00; 12:00 GMT)
R3 - Viktor Troicki/Nenad Zimonjic (SRB) v Arnaud Clement/Michael Llodra (FRA)
Sunday (play starts at 15:00; 14:00 GMT)
R4 - Novak Djokovic (SRB) v Gael Monfils (FRA)
R5 - Janko Tipsarevic (SRB) v Gilles Simon (FRA)