NIS, SERBIA: Sweden kept alive their hopes of pulling off what would be a shock first round win over Davis Cup by BNP Paribas 2010 winners Serbia after Johan Brunstrom and Robert Lindstedt won an enthralling doubles contest against home crowd favourites Nenad Zimonjic and Janko Tipsarevic 36 63 76(4) 67(3) 108 on Saturday.
The outcome will in all likelihood force a tense finale on Sunday, when Tipsarevic takes on Michael Ryderstedt and Viktor Troicki meets Filip Prpic in the reverse singles.
The rollercoaster which lasted four hours nine minutes swung one way and then the other before the Scandinavians silenced the vociferous 4,000 home fans in the Cair Hall after Lindstedt buried an ace, Sweden’s 27th of the match, which will long be remembered after it produced a barrage of breathtaking winners, spectacular volleys as well as 161 unforced errors.
Serbia seemed to be cruising for an unassailable 3-0 lead in the tie after Tipsarevic and Zimonjic saved a triple break point on the latter’s serve in the opening set, but their resilient opponents did the same in the opening game of the second as Lindstedt started to nail one ace after another to keep the Swedes afloat.
The visitors took control in the second set when they broke Tipsarevic’s serve to lead 3-1 and although the Serbs broke back to cut the deficit to 4-3, they couldn’t keep up their momentum.
The titanic tussle produced tie breaks in each of the next two sets, the Swedes taking the third after romping to an early 3-0 lead in the decisive game while Serbia recovered from a 2-0 deficit in the fourth set tie-breaker to get back on level terms.
The fervent home crowd roared on their men as victory in the tie seemed to be beckoning, but Sweden always looked the more likely winners of Saturday’s marathon doubles as fatigue crept into Zimonjic and notably Tipsarevic, who got Serbia underway with a straight-sets win over Filip Prpic in Friday’s opening singles.
The hosts clawed their way out of trouble several times in the final set, having saved a double break point at 5-5 and overcame three successive 0-30 deficits on their serve before they were broken for the first time as Sweden nosed ahead 8-7. Serbia broke straight back but Lindstedt and Brunstrom were not to be denied a well-deserved win in the knife-edged contest.
“We can only congratulate Sweden and try to recuperate for the reverse singles,” Serbia team captain Bogdan Obradovic said in a courtside interview. “They served well and deserved their win. Tipsarevic now faces a tough psychological battle against Ryderstedt but I am sure he will come out with a winner’s mentality and hopefully seal the tie before the final singles rubber,” he added.
Sweden conjured a total of 99 winners against Serbia’s 54, cancelling out the 100 unforced errors they made compared to Serbia’s 61. Their high-risk game paid off as they also hit 27 aces against Serbia’s 15 and won 81 percent of the points on their first serve.
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Janko Tipsarevic (SRB) - 11/02/2012
Captain Bogdan Obradovic (SRB) - 11/02/2012
Johan Brunstrom (SWE) - 11/02/2012
Robert Lindstedt (SWE) - 11/02/2012
Captain Thomas Enqvist (SWE) - 11/02/2012
Nenad Zimonjic (SRB) - 11/02/2012