Serbs and Croats fighting for Davis Cup finals: Duel of rivals and friends

Davis Cup team of Serbia has a new great opportunity to reach the finals of the elite competition, in the historic clash with Croatia.

Source: Zoran Kecman
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Foto: Profimedia
Foto: Profimedia

Tennis fever shakes the Balkans, a clash of neighbors and great tennis friends is one of the topics of the day in the tennis world.

It is a clash between two teams that have had the opportunity to win the famous "Salad Bowl" a total of three times in history.

Croatia celebrated twice with 3: 2, the first time in 2005 in Bratislava against Slovakia, and the last in 2018 in Lille with France, while Serbia won the trophy for the only time in 2010 in that famous victory over the French in the Belgrade Arena 3: 2.

In addition, the Croats are fighting for the fourth final, and Serbia for the second.

In any case, the meeting on the ground of Madrid gives both of them the opportunity to write new bright pages of history, but looking at the paper, Serbia is the favorite in this match.

Third clash: Serbia leads 2-0 in victories

Foto: Profimedia
Foto: Profimedia

This will be the third clash between the two teams in the Davis Cup competition, and in both previous matches, Serbia celebrated very convincingly.

It is interesting that for the first time since independence, both countries played in the quarterfinals of the competition, in 2010 in Split. Then Novak Djokovic, current coach Viktor Troicki, Janko Tipsarevic and Nenad Zimonjic celebrated with a big 4: 1. Points for Serbia were brought by Novak Djokovic, with victories over Ivan Ljubicic, 7: 6 (3), 6: 4, 6: 1 and Marin Cilic, 6: 3, 6: 3, 6: 2, and Janko Tipsarevic over Antoni Veic, 6 : 2, 7: 6 (2), as well as Tipsarevic and Zimonjic in the doubles, against Cilic and Ivan Dodig, 7: 6, 6: 2, 6: 4.

The only point for the Croats was brought by Marin Čilić with the victory over Viktor Troicki, 6: 4, 7: 5, 6: 2.

Foto: Srdjan Stevanovic/Starsport
Foto: Srdjan Stevanovic/Starsport

Serbs and Croats also played five years later, in Kraljevo, when our boys celebrated with 5: 0.

It was a great triumph of the team led from the bench by the then selector Bogdan Obradović. Novak Djokovic beat Mato Delic 6: 3, 6: 2, 6: 4, Troicki was better than Borna Coric, 4: 6, 1: 6, 6: 3, 6: 2, 6: 1, as well as Mate Delic, 6: 4, 6: 3, while Filip Krajinovic won against Franko Skugor, 6: 4, 6: 2.

Double Djokovic / Zimonjic defeated Skugor and Marin Draganj 6: 3, 6: 4, 6: 1.

Foto: Profimedia/Oscar Barroso/DPPI/LiveMedia
Foto: Profimedia/Oscar Barroso/DPPI/LiveMedia

Without a doubt, Serbia has the role of the favorite on paper in this match, at least if you look at the positions of the players in singles.

The Croatians in this duel are led by the experienced Marin Čilić, who is 30th on the ATP list, while Nino Serdarušić (243) and Borna Gojo (279) are far behind. However, they have the strongest doubles in the world, Mate Pavić and Nikola Mektić are number one and two on the list of doubles and they are definitely in the lead.

However, Novak Djokovic, as number one in the singles, proved to be excellent in the doubles last day, so a fierce fight should be expected here as well, regardless of the strength of the Croatian doubles. Whoever coach Viktor Troicki chooses for the second single (Krajinović, Lajović, Kecmanović), he should have an advantage over Goja and Serdarušić.

In any case, the coach of Serbia, Viktor Troicki, says that it will be an opportunity for all tennis fans to enjoy the great fight between the two teams. "I hope that our victories will continue. Of course, we will go for the victory, we will concentrate on all matches, although we are strong close friends with everyone from the Croatian team.

"I hope that everything will be fine and that our team will win in the end," said Troicki. Nikola Pilić, a former advisor in the Davis Cup team of Serbia, but also a former selector of the Croatian team, believes that Serbia has an advantage.

"It will be a big deal to reach 1: 1 after the singles with Serbia, because their two second players are stronger for the class than Goja and Serdarušić, in whatever form they are. Again, that is never a guarantee in sports, we saw it in the last two or three days at the tournament," Pilić said for "Večernji list".

Head to Head data

Foto: Profimedia/CHRISTOPHE SAIDI/SIPA
Foto: Profimedia/CHRISTOPHE SAIDI/SIPA

When you look at how they have played so far, everything is pretty clear.

Not a single Serbian tennis players has met Serdarušić or Goja at ATP tournaments so far. Krajinović, Kecmanović and Lajović are certainly far better placed than them and thus have the role of favorites, but the Davis Cup is a competition in which various surprises took place, as evidenced by this year's final tournament, so there will be no relaxation.

Borna Gojo has already recorded two exceptional victories in this cycle of the competition, beating Aleksa Popirin with 7: 6 (5), 7: 5 and Italian Lorenzo Sonega, 7: 6 (2), 2: 6, 6: 2.

Nino Serdarušić lost to the Hungarian Fabian Marosan, 6: 4, 6: 4, so it is clear that next to Čilić, the single will most likely be played by Gojo, while everything is clear in the doubles. Mektic and Pavic have won all three doubles so far (Hungary, Australia, Italy) with a maximum of 2: 0 in sets, so it is clear that they rely on that point the most.

Finally, as for the clash between the two best in singles, Novak Djokovic and Marin Cilic, the Serb has a big advantage because he has a score of 17: 2. Novak won the last clash without a fight in the quarterfinals of Madrid in 2019, and before that they played in the ATP Final 2018 in London, when Novak won with 7: 6 (7), 6: 2.

How it will be now remains to be seen, but this will be their first time playing on a neutral field, in Madrid.

In a completely different atmosphere from the one we were used to years ago when it comes to Davis Cup competitions.

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