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Wednesday, Feb 26th

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2008 was a breakthrough year for Novak Djokovic. He beat Roger Federer en route to claiming his first Grand Slam title – the Australian Open. Back then Federer was the world no.1 and defending champion. Now fast forward to 2013. Djokovic comes into the tournament having won it two times in a row. He is the top seed and the overwhelming favourite for the title. The tables have been turned and now Roger Federer is the underdog. In the absence of Spanish legend Rafael Nadal, the role of the major challenger to the big two falls on Andy Murray, the new world No. 3.

With the Federer – Nadal era in its death throes, Murray and Djokovic look set to step in to take on the mantle. And with the duo having been placed on opposite sides of the draw, there is every chance of them meeting in another epic final.

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The draw for the 101st edition of the Australian Open took place in Melbourne today and wasn't particularly kind to any of the top seeds. Defending men's champion and world no.1 Novak Djokovic will open his title defence against Frenchman Paul Henri Mathieu, and faces a possible quarter-final showdown against the no.5 seed Tomas Berdych. David Ferrer is the highest seed in Djokovic's half of the draw, meaning Roger Federer and Andy Murray were drawn in the same half of the draw once again.

Federer hardly has it easy either with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga drawn in his quarter, and a possible third round meeting with Aussie hotshot Bernard Tomic. Federer will open his campaign against Benoit Paire.

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radek_stepanekThe year was 1980, the venue was Sportovni Hall in Prague, and the inspiration was provided by 20-year old Ivan Lendl, who almost single-handedly led Czechoslovakia to their maiden Davis Cup title. The clock fast-forwards 29 years and the now separated Czech Republic return to the Davis Cup Final for the first time in their history, only to be pummelled 5-0 by a dominant Spanish side, who were that year also the defending champions.

Back to the Future, and the 100th Davis Cup Final in the history of the sport returns to Prague where the Czech Republic held off the challenge of Spain to end the opening day of the tie on level pegging. Saturday belonged to the Czechs as Radek Stepanek and Tomas Berdych played for the second time in as many days to upset the Spanish team of Marc Lopez and Marcel Granollers, winners of the ATP World Tour Finals earlier this month in London.

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There was no separating Spain and the Czech Republic after the opening day of the Davis Cup Final in Prague with both higher ranked players winning the opening singles encounters for their respective sides. David Ferrer continued his exceptional run this year to overcome Czech veteran Radek Stepanek in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 in a match that was probably a tad more competitive than the scoreline suggests. The home fans were then treated to a humdinger as Tomas Berdych saw off the challenge of Nicolas Almagro in a thrilling five set encounter 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-3 to draw the hosts level.

Ferrer got the defending champions off to a perfect start, breaking Stepanek late in the first set in the 8th game before holding on to his serve in the following game to wrap it up comfortably enough. The Spaniard stretched his run of games early in the second set, going up a break, but Stepanek battled back to draw level midway through the set. Ferrer though quickly regained his advantage and wasted little time in opening up a 2-set to love lead.

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roger_federer_12The legendary Swiss maestro Roger Federer booked his place in the semi-finals of the ATP World Tour Finals in London with a haphazard 6-4, 7-6 win against world no.5 David Ferrer. Federer was far from his best today, serving poorly in the first set, and notching up nearly 40 unforced errors, but was still good enough to pick up his 14th win in a row against the plucky Spaniard, who is still hoping to beat the veteran Swiss once before they both hang up their racquets.

The match saw Federer race away to an early 3-0 lead, but not in the manner one would usually expect with the Super Swiss landing just 3 of 18 first serves and saving break points in both of his opening service games. His lack of form finally caught up with him on court as Ferrer broke back in the fifth game and soon levelled proceedings at 3-3.

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david_ferrer1David Ferrer once again performed the giant killing act as he defeated Juan Martin Del Potro in a thrilling encounter at the O2 Arena. In a match that swung first one way and then the other, Ferrer eventually triumphed 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 to beat Del Potro for the third time in 2012. The win put Ferrer just behind Federer in the Group B standings. In the matinee match, Federer had shut out Tipsarevic 6-3, 6-1 to move past Ivan Lendl for most match wins at the year ending championships. Leander Paes & Radek Stepanek who opened proceedings in the evening eased past Aisam ul Haq Qureshi and Jean-Julien Roger in straight sets 6-4, 7-5 to head the Group A doubles tables. Ferrer next takes on Federer while Del Potro faces Tipsarevic in a battle to stay alive in the tournament on Thursday.

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