We are heading for quite a Sunday climax to the Davis Cup final. Today with the best player on either team on the sidelines, Novak Djokovic watched his Serbian squad blow a two-set lead and lose to France 3-6, 6-7(3), 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 in a critical doubles point.
In front of a boisterous and at times unruly crowd in Belgrade, Vicktor Troicki and Nenad Zimonjic appeared to be in firm control up two sets against Arnuad Clement and Michael Llodra. But how quickly things changed.
France picked and clawed their way back into the match and after taking the third and fourth sets it was suddenly level. In the fifth, the momentum stayed with the visitors who immediately broke Zimonjic to put France ahead for good and in front of the tie 2-1. The Serb collapse was complete.
“We definitely had a lot of chances,” said Zimonjic. “I thought we were playing very good. It was little bit luck involved as well but you have to give them credit they were fighting until the end.”
Added Troicki who started far better than he finished, “Right now we feel disappointed. We had a chance we didn’t use it. I still believe we can win it tomorrow.”
Serbia also had multiple break chances up 4-3 in the fourth but they failed to convert.
Credit to France and especially to Clement for raising his level. With Djokovic playing first on Sunday they had to have that doubles win and they got it.
“It was a typical Davis Cup match with that unbelievable atmosphere,” France captain Guy Forget told Reuters. “I knew they could come back, but I knew it was going to be very, very difficult. At times, we saw unbelievable tennis.”
Meanwhile, Serbian coach Bogdan Obradovic lashed out at the Serbian line judges of all people.
“They (officials) were like a dark force out there and their lack of patriotism was astonishing,” he said to Reuters. “If they feel anything for their country they should wait for a customary second at close calls to make the right decision.”
Bogdan, did the (Serbian) officials really make your team blow a two set lead? No. That’s on you and your team. Hilarious.
And are you having second thoughts of not playing Novak? If not you should.
Going into the doubles I felt that France would come out ahead against a Djokovic-less Serbian team, but I didn’t think they’d do it in such devastating fashion. Choking a lead like that has to be a bitter pill for the Serbs to swallow. They can’t be sleeping too good tonight especially knowing that the last five countries to win the doubles point went on to win the title.
Djokovic was so close to having a chance to be the clinching hero on Sunday. Now, in some ways, the result is out of his hands. He will not be the hero.
With this confidence now crushed, Troicki, who must have harbored some hopes of playing Sunday, will surely be riding the bench the final day.
And that leaves the weight of the Serbian nation on the tattooed body of Janko Tipsarevic who is as quirky as he looks.
Can you really put your trust on Janko to win the title? Janko did win the clinching fifth rubber for Serbia in their semifinal against the Czech Republic back in September.
For France, this doubles comeback has to be absolutely inspiring. Tomorrow, Gael Monfils will get the first crack to clinch and give France their 10th Davis Cup title. Monfils has the flair for the dramatic and with all the pressure firmly on Djokovic I expect the Frenchman to be his usual crazy showman self.
Should Djokovic prevail, and I still fully expect that he will (he’s 5-0 vs. Gael and for some reason I just cannot fathom Novak losing), Forget will have a decision to make, Gilles Simon or Llodra or maybe even Clement who was the class at the end of the doubles?
Simon is a former Top 10 and a solid all-around player who’s won many big matches, but coming off a big emotional doubles win and with what’s at stake, I think if he’s 100% fit Llodra’s the guy.
As I said, in Davis Cup I like the players with the bigger serves. Llodra with his wicked lefty delivery should be able to hold easier than Tipsarevic. And Llodra’s attacking style will only further add to the pressure and nerves felt by Tipsy.
Still, I picked Serbia at the start with the hope that Janko would come out ahead in one of his matches. I thought he’d get that victory on Friday, but in tennis isn’t it best to win on Sunday?
Tennis Channel will have the final two matches starting live at 7am ET. There should be plenty of drama, nerves and excitement!
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