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Serbia vs France Davis Cup Finals tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Can Djokovic lead Serbia into the quarterfinals?

Hannah Wilks in ATP Tour 20 Nov 2019
  • Serbia face France in the final round-robin match of the Davis Cup Finals on Thursday
  • Serbia vs France is live from Madrid on Thursday at 11am local/10am BST
Novak Djokovic (PA Images)

Novak Djokovic leads Serbia against a French team which includes Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gael Monfils in the crucial clash of Group A at the Davis Cup Finals.

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Novak Djokovic’s Serbia take on a deep French side at the Davis Cup Finals on Thursday, with the winning side to proceed to Friday’s quarterfinals.

Whichever team comes through will face one of the two best teams who failed to finish top of their group, not really a knowable factor at this time.

Projected lineup:

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) vs Filip Krajinovic (SRB)
Gael Monfils (FRA) vs Novak Djokovic (SRB)
Pierre-Hugues Herbert/Nicolas Mahut (FRA) vs Janko Tipsarevic/Viktor Troicki (SRB)

NB: Match nominations are not finalized until an hour before the tie is scheduled to begin

Serbia come into the tie having got off to a superb start at the Davis Cup Finals on Wednesday, defeating Japan 3-0 to head Group A.

Champions in the ‘old style’ Davis Cup back in 2010, Serbia swept through a Kei Nishikori-less Japan – who were always going to struggle without their top player – without dropping a single set on Wednesday. Filip Krajinovic, the Paris Masters runner-up in 2017 and currently ranked world no. 40, beat Yuichi Sugita 6-2, 6-4 to get Serbia off to a winning start in the tie and set the stage for the debut of world no. 2 Novak Djokovic at the Davis Cup Finals.

Djokovic celebrates victory over Nishioka (PA Images)
Djokovic, who has a 31-7 win-loss record, had a bit of a torrid week at the Nitto ATP Finals last week, where he failed to get out of his group for the first time since 2012 after defeats to Dominic Thiem and Roger Federer. He also appeared to be in pain in his right elbow during the Federer match which casts doubts over his fitness to play in Madrid at the end of this long season. 

However, with the benefit of a few days’ rest, Djokovic appeared very much fit to play when he took the court against Yoshihito Nishioka on Wednesday, gliding past the fleet-footed Japanese player 6-1, 6-2 to seal the tie 2-0 for Serbia. Viktor Troicki and the retiring Janko Tipsarevic won the dead doubles rubber 7-6(5), 7-6(4), meaning that Serbia did not drop a set in the entire tie.

France’s opening tie in Madrid was a bit less one-sided. Runners-up to Croatia in last year’s Davis Cup final, Les Bleus can always field a deep team, with five players ranked into the top 50; three of them are in the side alongside the experienced doubles pairing of Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut.,

Nevertheless their opening tie against Japan ended up coming down to a live doubles rubber. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who started the year outside the top 200 after knee surgery in 2018 but is now up to world no. 29 after winning indoor hard-court titles in Montpellier and Metz, beat Yasutaka Uchiyama 6-2, 6-1, but Nishioka was able to hand a 7-5, 6-2 to Gael Monfils and it was up to Herbert and Mahut to seal the tie with a 6-7(4), 6-4, 7-5 victory over Ben McLachlan and Uchiyama.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (PA Images)
Obviously Serbia will be relying on Djokovic to get the singles win, whether he faces Tsonga (against whom he is 17-6, with Tsonga’s last victory coming in 2014) or Monfils (14-1, with Monfils’s sole victory coming all the way back in 2004). It’s not impossible to me that, given Monfils’s poor head-to-head against Djokovic and loss to Nishioka on Tuesday, France might instead tap Benoit Paire to face Djokovic; Paire actually has the healthiest head-to-head against Djokovic, 1-1, beating him in their last encounter in Miami in March 2018 (although Djokovic was recovering from elbow surgery at the time).

With Serbia virtually guaranteed that point unless something very unexpected happens, it’s up to Tsonga to take down Krajinovic in their first meeting. Significantly, despite their more haphazard win over Japan, France do have the superior doubles pairing in Herbert and Mahut, Grand Slam men’s doubles champions, so Serbia’s best chance of getting the victory is for Krajinovic to pull off a big surprise in his clash with Tsonga. Krajinovic played great tennis on Wednesday and is a very good player who recently made the final of Stockholm but that is a big ask for the Serbian no. 2. Ultimately if Serbia cannot win the tie, they must try to keep it as close as they can in hopes of qualifying as the best or second-best team not to win their group, in order to make it to Friday’s quarterfinals.

Serbia vs France Davis Cup Finals tennis is live from Madrid on Thursday at 11am local/10am BST  

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Serbia vs France Davis Cup Finals tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – Can Djokovic lead Serbia into the quarterfinals?

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