I’ve learned that there are many variables at work in Davis Cup – the crowds, the playing surfaces, and the captains are all prime examples. But there’s something else – an elusive and wild force that can take a match and blow it apart like dynamite. Just look at what happened in Prague today:
Czech Republic v. Switzerland (2-1 after day 2)
A canny Czech captain decided to substitute Stepanek and Berdych for the more practical doubles pairing of Damm and Dlouhy in the all-important third rubber against the Swiss. I imagine that the commentators were second-guessing Jaroslav Navratil from the coin toss and flat-out ridiculing him after Fed/Allegro bagged the first two sets. If I’d have seen it, I’d have been chuckling right along. It’s hard enough to come back after two sets, but against Roger Federer? Forget about it! But it happened and Roger knows why.
“I thought both teams played great, and it wasn’t a case of them dominating the last three sets. They got some lucky breaks when I was not able to convert the break points in the fourth, and the fans were amazing on either side.”
Okay, so he used the “L” word, but we all know what he meant. It wasn’t the skill of the players or the pull of the crowd that mattered, says Roger. It was the MOJO.
So where does that leave the Swiss on Day 3? Yes, Stepanek’s obviously been “touched” by the supernatural, for reasons I find difficult to explain. But Madame Mojo is notoriously fickle, and it’s possible that the baby-faced Wawrinka could catch her eye tomorrow. Let’s just say I think he’ll need her.