HALMSTAD, SWEDEN: Simon Aspelin and Robert Lindstedt have given Sweden a glimmer of hope going into the final day of their Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group quarterfinal against Serbia after winning the doubles rubber 64 76(5) 75 to reduce the deficit to 2-1.
The Swedish duo also had the notable honour of inflicting a rare defeat on world No. 1 Novak Djokovic. The Wimbledon champion was given the all-clear to play in Saturday’s doubles rubber after missing yesterday’s singles with a left knee injury, but not even his presence could stop the hosts from scoring their first point in this tie.
Despite defeating the top men’s player in the world, Lindstedt was pragmatic about the victory: “You can’t compare singles to doubles, that’s just the way it is. This is not the environment that he [Djokovic] is used to, if I played him in singles I would struggle to get games, but we are very happy to have played this well today and beat such a strong team as they are.”
For Aspelin, it was the perfect way to end what could be his last doubles match in Swedish colours after the 37-year-old announced he would be retiring from tennis next week.
The only way Aspelin will play again is if his side can pull off a remarkable comeback and win both tomorrow’s singles rubbers. Following yesterday’s injury to Ervin Eleskovic, Swedish captain Thomas Enqvist is playing his cards close to his chest and refused to reveal who he would play in the final singles rubber on Sunday should the tie go the distance.
In what proved to be a typically tight doubles encounter, Sweden scored the only break of the first set when Djokovic put an easy overhead into the net at 30-40 in the sixth game.
The second set went with serve, neither side even managing to create a break point opportunity and it was Serbia who started the resulting tiebreak the better by instantly earning a mini break. At 5-3 down, however, Sweden won four points on the trot to take a two-sets-to-love lead, largely due to some great returning by Aspelin.
The third set was also a tight affair and for Serbia it was a case of not being able to capitalise on break point opportunities. Lindstedt saved four break points on his serve in the ninth game of the third set and the match was over when the Swedish doubles team broke the world No. 1 to win the final set 75.
Djokovic was hard on himself in his post-match analysis but praised his Swedish opponents: “I expected myself to adjust a little bit better in the rhythm of the return – one of my main weapons wasn’t working well as I was missing a lot of returns but that’s because of their serves as well, which were great, and they were playing really well at the net.”
The Serbian still felt positive that his side has what it takes to win their quarterfinal and set up a last four clash with Argentina: “We are coming into the third day 2-1 up which is the most important thing and tomorrow we will try to end this tie.”
Sweden still have a lot to do if they are to record their sixth comeback from 0-2 down. Michael Ryderstedt takes on Janko Tipsarevic in the first of the reverse singles rubbers with play scheduled to start at 1pm local time (11am GMT).
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Captain Bogdan Obradovic (SRB) - 09/07/2011
Nenad Zimonjic (SRB) - 09/07/2011
Novak Djokovic (SRB) - 09/07/2011
Captain Thomas Enqvist (SWE) - 09/07/2011
Simon Aspelin and Robert Lindstedt (SWE) - 09/07/2011