BNP Paribas Davis Cup final: Advantage Spain
It's the tennis equivalent of football's World Cup and this week's Davis Cup final sees Spain take on the Czech Republic from Palau Sant Jordi, Barcelona.
The Spanish team captain - Albert Costa - has put Rafael Nadal, Fernando Verdasco, David Ferrer and Feliciano Lopez together to complete the victory this week, and should they manage it, the Spanish will become the first nation to retain the BNP Paribas Davis Cup since Sweden in 1998.
Although Nadal and Verdasco didn't have the greatest finish to the season at London's O2, this week's final is essentially Rafa's playground, with the host country (Spain) deciding which surface the matches are played on.
It's in Spain. It's on clay. Backers should immediately be thinking of Rafael Nadal and his home nation.
The Czech Republic's team is however looking strong, with Radek Stepanek, Tomas Berdych, Jan Hajek and Lukas Dlouhy all ready for action and available to back at 4/1!
"I was there in 2000 when they won. I had the flag, but this year I hope I will be there playing," said Nadal. "It's always an advantage to play at home but the Czechs are very good players on clay too."
"It was against the Czechs that I played my first time in Davis Cup so to play against the Czechs at home is going to be special," said Nadal. "They have a very good team, good doubles, very good two singles. Every point is going to be very difficult."
So, how does it work?
- There are two singles matches (rubbers) on the first day, a doubles match on the second and two more singles matches on the third day.
- Each Davis Cup tie is played over three days. Each team can have up to four players but not all of them need to be used.
- The country to win the best of five matches wins the tie!
Need some Davis Cup knowledge? (Courtesy of www.Daviscup.com)
- The Davis Cup was named after American Dwight Davis.
- Only 10 countries have lifted the Davis Cup in over a century.
- This is the 98th Davis Cup Final since the competition began in 1900. USA won the first title, defeating British Isles 3-0.
- Spain and Czech Republic have met on five previous occasions. The Spanish team currently leads 3-2 in the head-to-head series.
- In the most recent tie between the two nations, in 2004, Spain came from 1-2 down to defeat Czech Republic 3-2 in the World Group first round. This tie was also notable for the debut of Rafael Nadal.
- Spain and Czech Republic are currently ranked No. 1 and No. 4 respectively in the ITF Davis Cup Nations Ranking. If Spain wins, the rankings will remain the same. If Czech Republic wins, it will rise to No. 2 with Spain remaining top.
Spain's Davis Cup stats
- To reach the Final, Spain defeated Serbia 4-1, Germany 3-2 and Israel 4-1 - all at home.
- In this year's campaign so far, Spain has used a total of six players - Rafael Nadal, Fernando Verdasco, David Ferrer, Tommy Robredo, Juan Carlos Ferrero and Feliciano Lopez - who have all contested live rubbers.
- Spain, the reigning champion, has won the title three times - in 2000, 2004 and 2008.
- With three titles, Spain is currently joint sixth with Germany in the all-time list of Davis Cup champions. The top five reads USA (32), Australia (28), France (9), Great Britain (9) and Sweden (7).
- Spain has reached the Final in consecutive years for the first time since 2003-04. It is attempting to become the first nation to successfully defend the title since Sweden in 1998.
- Spain has won its last seven ties. Its record winning streak in the competition is eight ties, dating back to 1965 when it reached the Final for the first time.
- Spain has won 17 consecutive home ties and is unbeaten in 19 ties on clay. Its last home loss, which was also its last defeat on clay, came in 1999 against Brazil in Lerida.
- Spain is currently ranked No. 1 in the ITF Davis Cup Nations Ranking, a position it has held since July. It is one of only five nations to have occupied the top spot since the rankings were introduced in 2001.
- Manuel Santana, whose Davis Cup career spanned 14 years between 1958 and 1973, is Spain's most capped player and also holds the record for the most number of wins. He played 46 ties and finished with a win-loss ratio of 92-28.
Czech Republic's Davis Cup stats
- To reach the Final, Czech Republic defeated France 3-2 and Argentina 3-2 at home, and Croatia 4-1 away.
- In this year's campaign so far, Czech Republic has used a total of six players - Radek Stepanek, Tomas Berdych, Lukas Dlouhy, Jan Hernych, Ivo Minar and Jan Hajek. However, only Stepanek, Berdych and Minar have contested live rubbers.
- Czech Republic has won the title once when Ivan Lendl led his side - then named Czechoslovakia - to victory in 1980. Czechoslovakia was divided into Czech Republic and Slovak Republic in 1993.
- Czech Republic will be playing in its first Final since it won the title in 1980. In addition, it also finished runner-up in 1975, losing to Sweden 2-3 in Stockholm.
- Czech Republic jointly holds the record for playing in the World Group for the most number of years. Along with Sweden and USA, it has contested the elite division for 28 years since its inception in 1981 - only missing out when it dropped down to Europe/Africa Zone Group I in 2006.
- Radek Stepanek and Tomas Berdych are Czech Republic's highest ranked singles players. Playing together, they have an unbeaten doubles record.
- Lukas Dlouhy is Czech Republic's highest ranked doubles player. In 2009, he teamed up with India's Leander Paes to win the Roland Garros and US Open doubles titles.
- Jan Kodes, whose Davis Cup career spanned 15 years between 1966 and 1980, is Czech Republic's most capped player and also holds the record for the most number of wins. He played 39 ties and finished with a win-loss ratio of 60-34.