Davis Cup Betting: Serbia to bite the dust as Novak runs out of gas
An exhausted and disconsolate Novak Djokovic after his defeat to Nadal in the US Open final
"Without a fit and firing Djokovic to rely on, this could be tight and
with the Czech Republic desperate to repeat their feat of 2009 when
they reached the Davis Cup final, they are the value choice at around
[3.0] having two away wins under their belt already."
After a relatively successful US open, Sean Calvert turns his attentions to this weekend's Davis Cup semi-finals where Serbia's chances against the Czech Republic rest on the tired shoulders of Novak Djokovic and France host Argentina.
Taking the positives from the US Open, I did manage to correctly select Rafa Nadal as the best bet of the three favourites and advised to avoid backing Murray at all costs, so the first round defeat of Tomas Berdych wasn't too bad in the end.
There's an immediate chance for Berdych to redeem himself on Friday though, as it's Davis Cup semi finals weekend and his Czech Republic team visit Serbia, while France host Argentina.
Taking the tie in Belgrade first and the obvious question is: will Novak Djokovic be in the right physical and mental condition to lead Serbia to a Davis Cup final for the first time in the nation's short history?
They are favourites to do so at around [1.45] with a solid line-up of Janko Tipsarevic, Viktor Troicki and doubles specialist Nenad Zemonjic named to complement Djokovic, who has a 4-0 record in Davis Cup this year.
Serbia have defeated the United States (on clay) and neighbours Croatia (on indoor hard) by a 4-1 margin on both occasions to reach this stage and they have unsurprisingly chosen a similar surface for this tie.
Their Czech opponents are more than capable of springing a shock though with Berdych and Radek Stepanek once more spearheading their challenge and Jan Hajek and Ivo Minar completing their team.
The visitors have been on fire in the Davis Cup in 2010 with two 4-1 wins away from home in Chile and Belgium so far, both on clay, and the players tend to considerably raise their game for this event.
Stepanek has had a miserable year and both he and Berdych weren't missed much in the Chile tie, which neither played in, but the big guns return for the first ever meeting between the two nations in this competition.
Probably one of the last players that Djokovic would like to see over the other side of the net (after a monumental effort in New York) is Stepanek, who was Djoko's opponent in an epic US Open match in 2007 that went the full distance.
Stepanek has also troubled "the Serbinator" on the two occasions they've met on indoor hard with each player sharing a win apiece, but overall the Serbian star has a 5-1 head-to-head over the Czech.
Berdych meanwhile defeated Djokovic at Wimbledon and this really all boils down to how much the Serb has left in the tank after New York.
Without a fit and firing Djokovic to rely on, this could be tight and with the Czech Republic desperate to repeat their feat of 2009 when they reached the Davis Cup final, they are the value choice at around [3.0] having two away wins under their belt already.
The second semi final between hosts France [1.5] and Argentina [3.0] will be played in Lyon on the same super quick indoor hard courts that until this year hosted what is now the Open de Sud de France tournament on the men's tour.
Michael Llodra reached the final in Lyon last year and he could well be France's secret weapon in this tie, as he is up to a career high number 30 in the world and his expertise in doubles will be invaluable this weekend.
France can also call upon former world number nine, Gael Monfils, who is back up to 15 in the world after a very decent US Open and who has a handy 43-25 winning career mark indoors.
Jo Wilfried Tsonga is missing through injury, but when you have the likes of Richard Gasquet and Gilles Simon - both also former top tenners - to call upon, you're not doing too badly.
The visitors will rely probably too heavily on David Nalbandian, who has been in fine form in the Davis Cup in 2010, winning both deciding rubbers in Argentina's 3-2 wins over Russia and Sweden.
Without Juan Martin Del Potro to back him up though, Argentina look relatively weak with Juan Monaco, Horacio Zeballos and Eduardo Schwank making up the team.
With the exception of Nalbandian, they are all far happier on clay and after France's 5-0 whitewash of champions Spain in the last round on indoor hard it's hard to look past them at around [1.5] for the win.
The hosts are also yet to taste defeat to Argentina, having won all four of the ties between the nations so far, so my picks are France and the Czech Republic to reach the final.
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