Dead rubber

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Dead rubber is a term used in sporting parlance to describe a match in a series where the series result has already been decided by earlier matches. The dead rubber match therefore has no effect on the winner and loser of the series, other than the number of matches won and lost.

The term is widely used in Davis Cup and Fed Cup tennis, as well as in international cricket and field hockey series and in the FIFA World Cup.

For example, in a Davis Cup series, each pair of competing countries play five matches (rubbers) where the winner is decided on a best-of-five basis. Where the result is known before the completion of the five matches (if one side accumulates an unassailable number of victories (three)), the remaining match or matches are said to be dead-rubbers.

Because the result of a dead rubber match is unimportant in the series result, winning teams in one-sided competitions sometimes have difficulty in completing a clean sweep of the series. This is because often dead-rubber matches are played in a less intense atmosphere, thus allowing the lesser team to sneak a win. Sometimes, a second-string player who has not played much in top-level competition is used to play a dead rubber in order to gain experience.

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