The controversial Davis Cup final begins in three European cities. The underestimated Czechs will start today in Innsbruck, Austria against the significantly weakened France. Russia’s biggest favorite is the star-studded team.
Time is relentless. Eight years have passed this year since the Czechs saddened the Serbs led by the phenomenal Novak Djokovic in Belgrade and famously defended the Davis Cup triumph.
Captain Jaroslav Navrátil’s charges, especially Tomáš Berdych and Radek Štěpánek, then followed up on the previous final victory over Spain, which in 2012 was royally enjoyed by the rooftop O2 arena.
The whole world worshiped the Czech Republic. The euphoria was appropriate, but many sensed that Czech tennis would have to be forgotten about the successes of such a caliber for a long time.
Radek Štěpánek hung tennis equipment on a nail in 2017, Tomáš Berdych definitely cleaned his rackets in the cellar two years later.
Filling the gap requires patience, so today, before the start of the Davis Cup final, the Czechs are among the biggest outsiders of eighteen participants.
Ecuador is perhaps worse, it means many comments and predictions in the world’s sports media.
Bookmakers also rank the Czech Republic on the lowest levels. Fortuna has set a odds of 100: 1 for their victory. Apart from the hopeless Ecuadorians (600: 1), only the Hungarians (120: 1) have a higher one, but this choice is at least debatable, given the presence of Marton Fucsovices, a member of the world’s elite 40s.
“We will be a worthy opponent,” despite the assumptions, is convinced Captain Navrátil. The French and British are waiting for his team in the basic group. Two teams that are among the seven biggest favorites of the tournament.
“Anything can happen. But most of all, I think the differences in the Davis Cup have always been erased. I believe we will get a point in the locker room,” the captain hopes.
Six group winners and the two best teams from second places will advance to the quarterfinals. The sensational success of Czech tennis players can lead through a weakened France, which has only one of its six best players in the selection. Miss Gael Monfils, Ugo Humbert or Benoit Paire are missing.
The number one in the Czech team will be the 82nd player in the world, Jiří Veselý, the number two will be chosen by Navrátil from the balanced trio: Jiří Lehečka, Zdeněk Kolář and Tomáš Macháč are ranked around 140th in the ranking.
The 20-year-old Lehečka, who reached the finals of the challenger in Pau last week when he eliminated, among others, the French legend Gilles Simon, has the most hope for the “basic line-up”. Now he could add the scalp of another former world-class tennis player, Richard Gasquet.
The Spaniards are defending the triumph and are recording that the semifinals and finals will be played in Madrid. This time, however, they do not have Rafael Nadal, and another leader Roberto Bautista-Agut apologized at the last minute.
Already in the group, the defenders will face a busy Russia. The world number two and US Open champion Daniil Medvedev are complemented by other personalities in the selection: the fifth world player Andrej Rubljov and the top 30 tennis players Aslan Karacev and Karen Chachanov.
Russia can perfectly conquer the tennis world. It triumphed at the beginning of the year in the competitive ATP Cup, and Russian women recently won the Billie Jean King Cup in Prague.
The last time the Russians raised the salad bowl was fifteen years ago, during the time of Marat Safin. “I remember that very well. Our current team is more than able to repeat this success,” says Rublyov. “Playing for your country is something special,” Medvedev added.
Serbia is considered to be the main challenger of the Russians. Novak Djokovic, the world number one, is not missing in his staff.
Of the first three players in the world, only German Alexander Zverev will be missing from the Davis Cup. One of the few tennis players who insists on a strictly negative attitude towards the new system of traditional team competition.
“The format has to change and I stick to it. I’m someone who keeps my word. I want to win the Davis Cup, but I want to win the real Davis Cup,” he repeated recently.
The final tournament is played after a one-year break, lasting eleven days, the final is scheduled for December 5. In addition to the Czech duel with the French in Innsbruck, the Croatia-Australia matches in Turin and the Canada-Sweden matches in Madrid will start the race on Thursday.