The Davis Cup will have a new winner irrespective of the result between Slovakia and Croatia. At the start of the year, a final between these two nations wasn't the likely outcome and it's good to see that there is still some unpredictability within professional sport.
This will be the first final for both of these newly independent nations that gained independence from Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia respectively. There are some more parallels as well, for Croatia have named Goran Ivanisevic in their team for this match. it seems that it will be symbolic as to get his name on the Davis Cup trophy, but he has done a lot for the Croatian fans and tennis, plus his this will just be the perfect end for his career for the proud Croatian.
Slovakia have a veteran in their squad Karol Kucera who is semi-retired and will be finished with tennis as a player after the final, though the circumstances he has been included in are cloudy. It is rumoured that the Slovak number 2 Karol Beck has failed a doping test, but at this point in time it is only rumours, and latest news is that Beck will be playing in the first match against Ivan Ljubicic. So either it was some tactics by the Slovaks to cause a diversion, or Beck isn't too bad or are prepared to take their chances.
Croatia have been carried by big Ivan Ljubicic to the final, he has been the tower of strength for the team, the whole year and is 9-0 in his matches and has the chance to equal John McEnroe's record of 12 victories in Davis Cup for a season. It will be a lot of pressure for him and he doesn't have the greatest record in big matches and this one is bigger than the others he has played. Mario Ancic needs to step up as well, this could be his time to shine. Russia was the last team to win the Davis Cup away from home, the Croats are favourites to win the final, but anything can happen in Davis Cup.
As for how the final will go, personally I would like to see Slovakia win, their captain Miloslav Mecir, never won something this big as a player and he was outrageously gifted and has done excellent work as captain, but if they don't, then it won't be so bad if Croatia won the Davis Cup.
The best scenario the Slovaks can hope for is 1-1 at the end of the first day, then take it from there and like many Davis Cup ties the doubles will be the key, but as they say lets bring it on and end the season of 2005 on a high note with some quality tennis and performances.