Serbia will be bidding to reach the final for the first time when Czech Republic visits Belgrade in the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group semifinals later this week. The action is taking place on 17-19 September.
The home team is spearheaded by world No. 2 Novak Djokovic, who finished runner-up at the US Open on Monday night after losing to Rafael Nadal 64 57 64 62 in his second career final at Flushing Meadows.
Djokovic, the Australian Open champion in 2008, is unbeaten in this year’s Davis Cup campaign, having claimed two singles wins in each of the team’s victories en route to the semifinals.
Serbia defeated USA 3-2 in Belgrade and then cruised past Croatia 4-1 with surprising ease in Split.
Serbian captain Bogdan Obradovic has the luxury of naming an unchanged team for the third consecutive tie so Djokovic lines-up with Janko Tipsarevic, Viktor Troicki and Nenad Zimonjic.
Zimonjic is Serbia’s doubles specialist and has successfully partnered all three of his teammates in the past. He believes this flexibility puts the team in a strong position.
“We can make different combinations so whoever is playing singles doesn’t have to play all three days,” said the world No. 3 doubles player. “So far it’s worked well. We hope we’re going to be 100 per cent fit, all four of us, and we’ll be ready."
Czech Republic has recalled the nation’s top two players, Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek, after both missed the 4-1 away victory over Chile in the quarterfinals through injury.
Berdych and Stepanek have formed the foundation of the Czech team over the last few years and led the nation to its first final since 1980 when finishing runner-up to Spain last year.
Berdych has enjoyed a breakthrough summer, having reached the last four at Roland Garros and final at Wimbledon. These performances have helped him attain a career world ranking of No. 7.
Stepanek, on the other hand, has struggled for form this year and is currently ranked No. 35, his lowest position since February 2008. The experienced 31 year-old often saves his best tennis for Davis Cup, though.
"We have a great team and we believe in ourselves," said Stepanek. "We’ve been underdogs so many times, the same as we will be in Serbia, and we will try to use it to our advantage and do what we’ve done for the last two years.”
Ivo Minar and Jan Hajek make up the four-man team, following their impressive performances against Chile in July. Minar won both his singles rubbers, while Hajek recorded a singles victory and also triumphed with Lukas Dlouhy on the doubles court.
Serbia and Czech Republic are meeting for the first time. However, the nations faced each other nine times when playing under the flags of Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia. This series was led 5-4 by the Czechs.