BELGRADE, SERBIA: Davis Cup by BNP Paribas holders Serbia kept alive their hopes of reaching their second successive final after winning Saturday’s doubles to stay in the tie against three-time runners-up Argentina, who lead 2-1 ahead of Sunday’s reverse singles.
Nenad Zimonjic, the world doubles No. 3, and Viktor Troicki beat Juan Monaco and Juan Ignacio Chela 76(4) 64 62 in front of a partisan home crowd in the Belgrade Arena, who will return in even greater numbers on Sunday with Novak Djokovic likely to come back into the picture for the defending champions.
Djokovic pulled out of his opening singles rubbers against David Nalbandian with lower back and rib pain but having recuperated from his exertions at the US Open, where he won his third Grand Slam title of the season and the fourth of his career on Monday, the 24-year old Belgrader should be fit for Sunday’s opening reverse singles against Juan Martin Del Potro.
There was neither a break of serve nor even a break point in a nail-biting first set, settled by some of Troicki’s fine play at the net after the Serbs produced 27 winners compared to Argentina’s 14.
The contest appeared to be heading for a more dramatic finale after the visitors broke Zimonjic’s serve to go 4-1 up in the second set, but Zimonjic and Troicki then moved up a gear and won the next seven games to stay firmly in the driving seat.
Roared on by the home fans, they produced a flurry of volleys and forehand winners to take a two sets to love lead and go 2-0 up in the third, which followed the same pattern.
Having broken Monaco’s serve in the seventh game, the Serbs wrapped up the match in 2 hours 9 minutes after Troicki held his own and revived Serbia’s hopes of retaining the silverware.
"It was a must-win situation for us, we were definitely under pressure and we played really well under the circumstances," world doubles No. 3 Zimonjic told a news conference. "It was a difficult match, we had unbelievable support from the crowd and we are in good position now because I like our chances if Novak plays tomorrow."
Troicki added: "We are all hoping that Novak will be fit and that he will play tomorrow but either way, I am ready to step in again if called upon. This win has boosted my confidence after a poor performance in the opening singles against David Nalbandian and we know our fans will be pumped up for the reverse singles.”
Should Djokovic return to face del Potro, it will be his first singles match for Serbia since they claimed their maiden Davis Cup title with a 3-2 win over France in last year’s memorable final. This year, Djokovic only featured in the doubles in Serbia's 4-1 quarterfinal win over Sweden, and played no part in the 4-1 first round defeat of India.
While his perfect singles record against Argentina will be put to a stern test against del Potro, if the Serb plays, the defending champions will also be looking to extent their unbeaten record in the Belgrade Arena, having won all their five previous matches at the venue.
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Viktor Troicki (SRB) - 17/09/2011
Nenad Zimonjic (SRB) - 17/09/2011
Captain Bogdan Obradovic (SRB) - 17/09/2011