NOVI SAD, SERBIA: Defending champion Serbia took a 2-1 lead against India in itsDavis Cup by BNP Paribas first round tie after Nenad Zimonjic and Ilija Bozoljac won an enthralling doubles contest against Somdev Devvarman and Rohan Bopanna 46 63 64 76(10) on Saturday.
Having been held to a 1-1 deadlock in Friday’s opening singles, the Serbs made a shaky start in the doubles, their rivals taking full advantage in the first set thanks to some powerful serving by Bopanna.
But India’s weakness was soon exposed as Devvarman, who stunned Janko Tipsarevic on Friday, struggled with his serve all afternoon and dropped it five times through the match, which lasted 3 hours 12 minutes in front of a passionate Serbian crowd in the SPENS sports centre.
While Zimonjic showed all the traits of the world doubles No.4, Bozoljac took some time to get into the stride and when he did, Serbia was able to turn the match around as the 25-year-old improved his serve and notably his volleying at the net in the second and third set.
The rollercoaster appeared to be heading for the fifth set after India broke serve in the fourth game and then held their own to take a 4-1 lead in the fourth set, but Devvarman failed to hold his nerve in the seventh game, allowing Bozoljac to draw level at 4-4 on his serve. Games went with serve to force a tiebreak as the battle entered a thrilling climax, but not before bitter Serbian complaints about a line call that would, had it gone the other way, have handed them another break and a chance to serve for the match.
Neither side was able to pull away in the tiebreak, as the lead changed hands time and time again with Serbia saving three set points, one of them with desperate shots which almost defied the laws of physics when they were 10-9 down. Zimonjic had the crowd on their feet when he kept Serbia in the tiebreak and several moments later, the home fans were in raptures after he sealed the match with a neat backhand volley.
“Playing with Zimonjic was a great pleasure and I also want to thank team captain Bogdan Obradovic for having faith in me,” Bozoljac told reporters.
“A blend of Zimonjic’s experience and Bozoljac’s youth paid off today and it is a great bonus to have the two of them as unit,” added Obradovic.
Zimonjic, who produced his best shot when he needed to most, said Serbia was stretched to the limit on Saturday.
“We were in a tight spot after dropping the first set and had to raise our game considerably to win the match,” he said. “We were a bit lucky to save that set point when we hit some impossible shots and we are glad that we are ahead in the tie.”
In Sunday’s reverse singles, Viktor Troicki takes on Devvarman, while Tipsarevic will cross swords with Bopanna if the rip-roaring tie goes to a decisive fifth rubber. If the highly entertaining action seen so far is anything to go by, it may well go down the wire. The winner will meet Sweden in the second round after the Scandinavians took an unassailable 3-0 lead against Russia on Saturday.
Captain Bogdan Obradovic (SRB) - 05/03/2011
Ilija Bozoljac (SRB) - 05/03/2011
Captain Shiv Prakash Misra (IND) - 05/03/2011
Nenad Zimonjic (SRB) - 05/03/2011