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02 February 2014

Serbia find quantum of solace in reverse singles


By Zoran Milosavljevic

Photo: Srdjan StevanovicMichael Lammer (SUI)

NOVI SAD, SERBIA: Davis Cup by BNP Paribas 2010 champion Serbia salvaged some pride on the final day of its 2014 first-round tie against Switzerland after youngsters Dusan Lajovic and Filip Krajinovic won Sunday’s reverse singles to make the final score 3-2 to the Swiss.

Lajovic fought back from 4-2 and 40-15 down in the third set to beat Michael Lammer 63 36 64 while Krajinovic overpowered Marco Chiudinelli 64 64, giving the home fans something to cheer about after Switzerland had raced into an unassailable 3-0 lead in the opening two days.

With Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka flown home for some deserved rest, the second-string Swiss players – who clinched the decisive third point in Saturday’s doubles – faced a motivated Serbian duo cheered on by a surprisingly large number of fans in Novi Sad’s SPENS Arena.

“It’s hard to be at your best when there is only pride to play for but I fought for every point because the fans were fantastic, they supported me as if it was a live rubber,” 23-year-old Lajovic told a news conference after winning the opening reverse singles against Lammer.

“I am glad I managed to come back in the third set against a player who also fought hard for his country and never showed any sign of taking his foot off the gas pedal,” he said.

Lajovic broke Lammer’s serve in the eighth game of the opening set and the Swiss replied at the same point in the second, while a barrage of breaks followed in the third before the Serb moved up two gears and drew a warm applause from several thousand fans.

One break of serve was enough for 21-year-old Krajinovic, who gave a good account of himself in Saturday’s doubles on his Davis Cup debut, to take the opening set against Chiudinelli, 10 years his senior.

The young Serb was determined to win his maiden singles appearance in the competition and hence carried the momentum into the second set as he broke serve to carve out a 3-1 lead. He then held out comfortably to seal the match in just over an hour.

But at the end of the day, it was the Swiss who had the last laugh as they took full advantage of Novak Djokovic’s absence to cruise into the second round, where they will be at home to Kazakhstan and feel poised to reach the semifinals should Wawrinka and Federer stay the course.

Australian Open champion Wawrinka and former world No. 1 Federer, who has 17 Grand Slam titles to his name, were too strong for Serbia’s second-string players.

Federer strolled to his straight-sets win over Ilija Bozoljac and Wawrinka displayed the composure and grit of a champion against Lajovic, who came close to forcing a fifth set in their titanic tussle on Friday.

Chiudinelli and Lammer showed steel nerves to win Saturday’s doubles after clinching a pair of tiebreaks in the knife-edged contest to seal Switzerland’s passage into the next round, thus giving themselves the luxury of a more relaxed approach sitting on the comfortable cushion of a 3-0 lead.

“We would have liked to have won today’s reverse matches too but overall, we are delighted to have won the tie and reached the quarterfinals,” Swiss team captain Severin Luthi said.

“The objective is to keep Wawrinka and Federer in the team and have them available for that tie and it is also very good that we will be at home in the match against Kazakhstan,” he added.

Follow this tie as it happens: Live Scores or Watch Live

Captain Bogdan Obradovic (SRB) - 02/02/2014

Filip Krajinovic (SRB) - 02/02/2014

Captain Severin Luthi (SUI) - 02/02/2014

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