Serbia will host France in the final of the Davis Cup men's international team tennis competition after rallying for a 3-2 victory over the Czech Republic. December's Davis Cup final will pit a visiting French team that has won the title nine times against one that had not won a world group tie until March of this year.
December's Davis Cup final will pit a team that has won the title 11 times against one that had not won a world group tie until March of this year.
France is one of tennis's powerhouses, and while it has no really big player, apart perhaps from the currently injured Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, it has good strength in depth and outstanding team spirit. And those attributes helped it to an emphatic (5-0) victory in Lyon over Argentina.
By contrast, Serbia needed to go to the final match to beat last year's finalists, the Czech Republic. Its stalwart Novak Djokovic always seems to be vulnerable with his health, and the effects of jet lag after the U.S. Open meant he could not play on the opening day.
Needing to beat the Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych in the first of Sunday's singles, he got off to a poor start, but then made the most of a stumble in which he landed on his right knee, and with the knee strapped, fought back for a four-sets win after looking in trouble after an hour of play.
"Luckily for me it did not cause me any injuries, but kind of energized me, you know," he said. "It woke me up. I did not feel great at the start of the match. Tomas was playing much better and I just needed something to happen. So maybe it was a sign."
That set up Janko Tipsarevic to be Serbia's hero for the weekend, the studious-looking bespectacled player beating Radek Stepanek in straight sets for his second victory of an ecstatic weekend for the Serbs.
"The great thing about this team is there is always somebody who is playing well and we have a great quality of a very young team and lot of options," said Tipsarevic. "And we are just so happy and so emotional in this moment that we are not thinking actually about [our] next opponent. But the good thing is that we are playing at home again and we will feel this atmosphere once again."
And the final could be even more ecstatic as it takes place in Serbian tennis's spiritual home, the 17,000-seater Belgrade Arena.