Davis Cup is back with a controversial new format in 2021. The world group stage has been replaced by a new round robin format. In traditional world group the best countries in tennis play elimination ties with one country having home court advantage, until a final is played and a winner emerges. This year the format is a round robin set of 6 groups of three, with the winners of each group going through to the quarter finals, to be joined by the two best runners up. From the quarterfinal its straight knockout ties. Spain the holders defeated Canada last year to win it powered by a certain Rafa Nadal. One of the favorites is Serbia led by world number one Novak Djokovic. He faced WORLD NUMBER 110 Dennis Novak(yes that is his last name) of Austria in a match to determine the winner of the opening match of group F between Serbia and Austria. Austria missing a big player in Dominic Thiem. Dusan Lajovic had won his game against Gerald Melzer to give Serbia a 1-0 lead. Part of the controversy regarding the new format is that the matches are being played in neutral venues so they are devoid of atmosphere and raucous crowds that usually come to these matches. Austria were playing at home in Innsbruck which made it almost a level playing field.
Djokovic was impeccable on serve and never faced a single break point. But Novak was also good in that first set. Check out the confident ACE to win the game at 1-0(40-30). The Austrian has a good ground stroke game ,2-2 first set first point. But his major flaw was the error’s committed at the crucial moments like at 2-2(15-30). Crucial game of the first set was at 4-3. As seen on tour Djokovic wears you down until you either make an error or you open the court. Check out 4-3(15-30) and 30-30 and 30-40. From there it was a matter of Djokovic holding serve to close out the set. But the shot of the match belonged to the Austrian Novak. Check out 5-3(15-0). The volley was exquisite from Djokovic worthy of winning the point on its own but Novak got there and found the gap with a forehand down the line. Not an easy shot at the high part of the net. Djokovic closing out the set at 6-3.
Second set , as neutrals, we were looking for more of the same from both in terms of entertainment. But it ended up being hopelessly one sided. Novak mentally he was defeated by game one. The unforced errors again a nuisance especially on his serve. Djokovic on the contrary was gaining confidence on serve with each passing game. Check out the backhand winner at 2-2(15-15). He took just 60 minutes to win this match. Yes a Davis Cup match taking just 60 minutes. The organizers cutting the matches to best of three sets has something to do with it. I am entirely neutral on this aspect. On one side the less time on court after a long season is good for the players. On the other, there is less chances of a player who is down two sets to come back and win the match. Serbia took an unassailable 2-0 lead to render the doubles a dead rubber, which they aced too to win the tie 3-0.