HALMSTAD, SWEDEN: Serbia will take a 2-0 lead into the second day’s play of their Davis Cup by BNP Paribas quarterfinal tie against Sweden after a dramatic day in Halmstad.
The crowd were treated to a gripping four-set clash between Viktor Troicki and Davis Cup debutant Michael Ryderstedt in the opening rubber of the day before being shocked to see Sweden’s No. 2, Ervin Eleskovic, helped off the court with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
His opponent, Janko Tipsarevic, who was brought in to replace world No. 1 Novak Djokovic after he was unable to play due to a left knee injury, was 62 1-0 up in the second match on court when the Swede overextended his left knee when returning a serve out wide and was left clutching at his leg.
“First of all I am very happy I brought the point to my country,” said Tipsarevic after the match. “But I am feeling really bad for Ervin and I couldn’t imagine this day would finish this way. You really don’t see too many retirements in Davis Cup and this is just one of those days nobody wants to finish this way.”
With only three players left in their team and having lost both of the singles rubbers, Sweden’s captain Thomas Enqvist is under no illusions that his side face an uphill battle if they are to stand any chance of fighting their way back into this tie.
But history favours the side from Scandinavia, who have come back from 0-2 to win a Davis Cup tie more times than any other nation in the competition.
“It’s going to be very difficult,” said Enqvist, who has chosen the specialist doubles pairing of Simon Aspelin and Robert Lindstedt for tomorrow’s doubles. “But we know what we have to do and that is go out there tomorrow and focus on the doubles and that is going to be our target.”
In the first rubber of the day, Troicki was made to pay the price for thinking he had done enough at two sets and a break up. The Serbian took his foot off the gas and Ryderstedt proved he is a better player than his world ranking of No. 297 suggests by winning the third set tiebreak and even served to level the match at two-sets-all in the fourth.
“I was trying to keep the points short,” explained Ryderstedt when he stepped out from the changeover to serve for a decisive fifth set. “At that point I was getting way more tired than I should have. I was trying to stay aggressive but unfortunately I couldn’t serve it out.”
And Troicki knows he dodged a bullet by finally overcoming his opponent 63 61 67 75. “You should never underestimate your opponent in Davis Cup especially when you play away from home,” he said. “I was expecting that it was going to be easy for me but you should play every match with full focus.”
With all to play for in tomorrow’s doubles rubber, the Halmstad tennis fans could still see Djokovic take to the court alongside Serbian doubles specialist Nenad Zimonjic, but the away team is not going to risk their star player if he is not fully fit.
Play starts at 3pm local time (1pm GMT) and after today’s performance you can expect the unexpected.
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Captain Bogdan Obradovic (SRB) - 08/07/2011
Viktor Troicki (SRB) - 08/07/2011
Janko Tipsarevic (SRB) - 08/07/2011
Captain Thomas Enqvist (SWE) - 08/07/2011
Michael Ryderstedt (SWE) - 08/07/2011