Djokovic-Stepanek starts Davis Cup

BY foxsports • September 16, 2010

Novak Djokovic has to shake off jet lag and any lingering disappointment of losing the U.S. Open final in his effort to lead Serbia past the Czech Republic to its first Davis Cup final.

Djokovic, who lost the rain-delayed U.S. Open final to Rafael Nadal on Monday, will play the Czech No. 2 Radek Stepanek in the opening singles of their Davis Cup semifinal on Friday.

Djokovic only returned to the Serbian capital from New York on Wednesday and acknowledged being ''emotionally and physically'' drained after his final loss to Rafael Nadal.

''It's not the easiest thing to deal with, but I don't have time to think about it,'' Djokovic said after Thursday's draw. ''I am confident I'll be ready, I've been in that situation before.''

In Friday's second singles on the indoor hard court of the Belgrade Arena, Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia will play Wimbledon runner-up Tomas Berdych.

Stepanek was once in the top 10, but has fallen to No. 35 and has been battling a left-knee injury for much of the year.

''Definitely I am ready, otherwise I would not be on board,'' Stepanek said. ''The matches I played with Novak were close and great battles and I don't expect anything else on Friday.

''He is back at No. 2 in the world and he's gained his confidence back. But I also believe in myself.''

Djokovic has a 5-1 career record against Stepanek.

''We've played a lot against each other on the tour but the Davis Cup is a different occasion,'' Djokovic said. ''He is very experienced in the competition, he has a lot of variety on his game. He can attack and he can be defensive.''

Berdych hopes to celebrate his 25th birthday on Friday by earning a point for the Czech Republic, which is seeking to reach back-to-back finals of the competition for the fist time.

''The last match I played Janko was easy for me,'' said Berdych, the top-ranked Czech player who is No. 7 in the world. ''This is going to be completely different. A home crowd will be behind him and he played some good tennis recently. He beat Andy Roddick at the U.S. Open, which is always difficult.''

Berdych has a 2-1 record against Tipsarevic, who is ranked No. 37. Their last match at a tournament last year in Florida ended in a 6-0, 6-4 win for Berdych.

''Tomas is playing his best season but he lost in the first round of the U.S. Open and he skipped the week before that so he hasn't played for nearly a month,'' Tipsarevic said.

The doubles are scheduled for Saturday, with reverse singles of the best-of-five series on Sunday.

In the doubles, Nenad Zimonjic and Viktor Troicki of Serbia are slated to face Jan Hajek and Ivo Minar of the Czech Republic, although the lineups can be changed until an hour before the match.

Zimonjic, Serbia's doubles star ranked No. 3 in the world, said he expected a different Czech pair in the doubles.

''I am nearly a 100 percent sure that they will play Berdych and Stepanek in the doubles,'' Zimonjic said.

On Sunday, Djokovic is slated to play Berdych and Tipsarevic to face Stepanek, although team captains can change their picks, again until an hour before start of play.

In the other semifinal, France plays Argentina.

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