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04 December 2010

As it happened: France stun Serbia in comeback


GAME WATCH

By 

  • Ed Pearson

Photo: Paul ZimmerArnaud Clement and Michael Llodra (FRA)

GAME, SET, MATCH... FRANCE - 3-6 6-7(3) 6-4 7-5 6-4

Troicki/Zimonjic 6-3 7-6(3) 4-6 5-7 4-6 Clement/Llodra*
Quite simply an unbelieveable match and an amazing comeback by the French. In just over four-and-a-half hours both country's players have entertained with tennis of the highest order.

Troicki/Zimonjic* 6-3 7-6(3) 4-6 5-7 4-5 Clement/Llodra
This couldn't be any more tense. Zimonjic holds so France will be serving to win the match. Expect the roof to come off if the hosts break.

Troicki/Zimonjic 6-3 7-6(3) 4-6 5-7 3-5 Clement/Llodra*
The crowd are on their feet chanting "Serbia" as their players earn two break points on the Clement serve. France save both and when Zimonjic hits a backhand into the net to give his opponents game point, he responds by slamming his racket into the ground. He soon makes amends though with a firmly struck backhand volley winner to level the scores at deuce once more. Clement serves out wide and Zimonjic fails to control the return to give France another game point opportunity. Zimonjic looks to have hit another backhand volley winner but Llodra somehow rifles a winner of his own to leave his side one game shy of a famous win.

Troicki/Zimonjic* 6-3 7-6(3) 4-6 5-7 3-4 Clement/Llodra
Troicki doesn't waste any time and rattles off four big serves to win the game.

Troicki/Zimonjic 6-3 7-6(3) 4-6 5-7 2-4 Clement/Llodra*
France seem to be getting the better of their opponents in the longer rallies. Llodra holds and puts the pressure on Troicki to follow suit.

Troicki/Zimonjic* 6-3 7-6(3) 4-6 5-7 2-3 Clement/Llodra
Zimonjic bounces back and holds serve to keep Serbia firmly within touching distance of the opposition.

Troicki/Zimonjic 6-3 7-6(3) 4-6 5-7 1-3 Clement/Llodra*
France manages to maintain their advantage in this fifth and final set despite being taken to 30-30. It looks like everyone is feeling the intensity of the situation on court now.

Troicki/Zimonjic* 6-3 7-6(3) 4-6 5-7 1-2 Clement/Llodra
Almost a wobble from the Serbian pair there but Troicki comes through a tough point at 30-30 to hold his serve and register a score in this final set.

Troicki/Zimonjic 6-3 7-6(3) 4-6 5-7 0-2 Clement/Llodra*
Llodra holds serve to love to consolidate the immediate break in the fifth. Serbia must find a way back into this match or it could be a cruel blow to home confidence. The momentum is well and truly with the French now.

Troicki/Zimonjic* 6-3 7-6(3) 4-6 5-7 0-1 Clement/Llodra
F
or the first time in the match Zimonjic looks troubled on serve. France force four break points and eventually take the earliest possible initiative at the fourth time of asking in this fifth set. The Serbians look shell shocked.


FOURTH SET - FRANCE 7-5

Troicki/Zimonjic 6-3 7-6(3) 4-6 5-7 Clement/Llodra*
We've got a fifth set on our hands here in Belgrade. The French are trying to stage an amazing comeback. The crowd unfurls a huge French flag as Clement holds serve to take the fourth set 7-5.

Troicki/Zimonjic* 6-3 7-6(3) 4-6 5-6 Clement/Llodra
A sweetly timed backhand return down the line by Clement gives France the lead at 15-30. Troicki hits wide to hand the French two break points. Clement hits a marvellous lob that drops on the line to break the Serbians and gives himself the chance to serve out this set to take it to a decider. The French fans are jubilant.

Troicki/Zimonjic 6-3 7-6(3) 4-6 5-5 Clement/Llodra*
Llodra also keeps his cool. How do the players do it? They don't even look worried! 5-5 in the fourth and Troicki is about to serve.

Troicki/Zimonjic* 6-3 7-6(3) 4-6 5-4 Clement/Llodra
Zimonjic holds his nerve and his service game with ease to force the French to serve to stay in this match.

Troicki/Zimonjic 6-3 7-6(3) 4-6 4-4 Clement/Llodra*
A sensational test of France's, and in particular Arnaud Clement's, nerve there. The diminutive Frenchman saved two break points to hold at a critical time in the rubber.

Troicki/Zimonjic* 6-3 7-6(3) 4-6 4-3 Clement/Llodra
Troicki finds the form of the first set to give Serbia a 4-3 lead. He is made to play about six consecutive volleys to win the first point before quashing a mini French revival with a deep second serve.

Troicki/Zimonjic 6-3 7-6(3) 4-6 3-3 Clement/Llodra*
The longer this match goes on, the better Llodra appears to be serving. Two perfect serves out wide get him off to a good start in this fourth set, but then the Serbs claw their way back into it at 30-30. A netted backhand by Zimonjic gives France the advantage at 40-30 and then Clement hits the ball between Zimonjic's legs to win the game.

Troicki/Zimonjic* 6-3 7-6(3) 4-6 3-2 Clement/Llodra
Serbia bounce back with a quick service hold of their own and there are high fives from captain Bogdan Obradovic for both his players.

Troicki/Zimonjic 6-3 7-6(3) 4-6 2-2 Clement/Llodra*
France look to be making light work of the Serbian pair on their own serve, as Clement smashes a clean winner at 40-15 to draw level in the fourth set.

Troicki/Zimonjic* 6-3 7-6(3) 4-6 2-1 Clement/Llodra
Viktor Troicki is not happy with the line judge. He hit a good serve (which was called out and subsequently overruled) which would have resulted in the game being sewn up as Zimonjic hit a winning volley off the return and he then nets a soft shot to have to play a couple more points to win the game.

Troicki/Zimonjic 6-3 7-6(3) 4-6 1-1 Clement/Llodra*
An easy hold to love for the French. You get the feeling that the match is swinging in the favour of France. I can't see Serbia rolling over though here. The crowd won't let them for one thing.

Troicki/Zimonjic* 6-3 7-6(3) 4-6 1-0 Clement/Llodra
Serbia hold thanks to some strong serving by Zimonjic. The veteran doubles player has brought his top game to the table for this massive occasion.


 THIRD SET - FRANCE 6-4

Troicki/Zimonjic 6-3 7-6(3) 4-6 Clement/Llodra*
France refuse to lie down and ease into a 40-0 lead on Llodra's serve to have three set points. They convert at the first time of asking. Is a comeback on the cards?

Troicki/Zimonjic* 6-3 7-6(3) 4-5 Clement/Llodra
Serving to stay in the third set, Troicki is forced to save a break point, which he does courtesy of a mistimed Clement backhand. Serbia then takes the game when Zimonjic puts away an easy smash.

Troicki/Zimonjic 6-3 7-6(3) 3-5 Clement/Llodra*
Zimonjic and Troicki sense the crowd is getting quiet and they lift their arms in a gesture for support. The fans duly respond. On court, the Serbians are looking to target Clement's serve and a superb reflex volley by Zimonjic drops inside the line for a winner to give Serbia two break points. Zimonjic nets the first and Llodra produces a lovely sliced forehand volley to save break point number two. France needs two bites at the apple to kill the game off but Llodra finally does so with a volley that clpis the top of the net before falling in.

Troicki/Zimonjic* 6-3 7-6(3) 3-4 Clement/Llodra
A minor blip in the shape of a double fault at 40-15 but Zimonjic is using his 34 years of age to keep a cool head under immense pressure.

Troicki/Zimonjic 6-3 7-6(3) 2-4 Clement/Llodra*
France hold and the travelling fans start waving their flags and singing songs. The home support has gone a bit quiet in this set.

Troicki/Zimonjic* 6-3 7-6(3) 2-3 Clement/Llodra
Troicki is back firing in the big serves after what can only be described as two nightmare games for the Serb. I knew I shouldn't have given him the kiss of death! He holds to love.

Troicki/Zimonjic 6-3 7-6(3) 1-3 Clement/Llodra*
Clement comes back from 0-30 down in a closely contested game to make the most of the break and give his team a 3-1 lead in this third set.

Troicki/Zimonjic* 6-3 7-6(3) 1-2 Clement/Llodra
Zimonjic holds with a relatively uneventful game by recent standards! The bench and the captains are all having words with the players at the change of ends. What they would give to be playing...

Troicki/Zimonjic 6-3 7-6(3) 0-2 Clement/Llodra*
Llodra holds serve to put French in a good position in this third set. This match still has a lot of life in it.

Troicki/Zimonjic* 6-3 7-6(3) 0-1 Clement/Llodra
Both teams of players leave the court before the start of this third set and you can appreciate why. The emotions are running high among players and fans alike. That's the beauty of Davis Cup. Troicki saves two break points to level the score at deuce but the French break the youngest man on court for a second successive time in their attempt at what would be an amazing comeback.


 SECOND SET - SERBIA 7-6(3)

Troicki/Zimonjic 6-3 7-6(3) Clement/Llodra

 

This tie has come alive. The players are calling for the crowd to be quiet as both sets of fans are starting to have an influence on the match at the start of the second set tiebreak. Serbia race out to a 5-2 lead after winning a point on Clement's serve and then take one off Llodra to have three set points. Zimonjic only needs one of them to give Serbia the best possible start on day two of the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Final.

 Troicki/Zimonjic* 6-3 6-6 Clement/Llodra
Emotions are running high here as the crowd are making their presence felt. But it's not the Serbian fans. The French contingent cry foot fault at deuce and Troicki and Zimonjic throw their arms up in the air in protest. Another shout during the break point and the French win the point to break back. You get the feeling this could now be a noisy affiar. 

Troicki/Zimonjic 6-3 6-5 Clement/Llodra*
Zimonjic shows why he is one of the best doubles players in the world with a lovely touch guiding the ball into the corner before hitting a sharp return of serve to give Serbia a break point at the best possible opportunity. Clement double faults to hand Serbia the break and it will be that man Troicki to come out and serve for the second set.

Troicki/Zimonjic* 6-3 5-5 Clement/Llodra
Serbia forced to face a rare break point. To Zimonjic's credit he hits a big first serve in to level the score at deuce. A 215km/h ace and some solid volleying by the Serbs keeps them in this second set.

Troicki/Zimonjic 6-3 4-5 Clement/Llodra*
Llodra double faults at 30-15 to give the Serbians a whiff of a chance. A missed forehand by Llodra at 40-30 lets the Serbians in again and he hits long on deuce to hand Serbia a break point. He takes a deep breath and saves it with a good serve out wide to Troicki. But the Serbians won't lie down. Another serve and another break point to be faced. The crowd are loving this. The French save the break again before finding a way to secure an important hold. 

Troicki/Zimonjic* 6-3 4-4 Clement/Llodra
Serbia easily take that game because guess who was serving? Yes, Viktor Troicki is fast becoming Mr Reliable in this match - sorry if that's the kiss of death Viktor!

Troicki/Zimonjic 6-3 3-4 Clement/Llodra*
The French hold to love and will feel like the momentum is turning in their favour now. This set is vital for both teams. The French must win it and if the Serbians prevail you would think a 2-0 lead would be enough to carry on and win the rubber.

Troicki/Zimonjic* 6-3 3-3 Clement/Llodra
Marat Safin and Fabrice Santoro have both been on Davis Cup radio talking about their memories of the competition. At this rate, this Final could be one of the more memorable ones too. Clement earns two break points for the French with a lovely cross court lob, but Serbia save both - the first as a result of a challenge and the second another big smash by Troicki. The home team hold and bounce around the court as if they have won the set. The crowd go wild.

Troicki/Zimonjic 6-3 2-3 Clement/Llodra*
A tricky game that for the French. Forced to deuce twice, Michael Llodra manages to secure a hold but in comparison to the Serbians, the French pair are finding life difficult on serve.

Troicki/Zimonjic* 6-3 2-2 Clement/Llodra
Viktor Troicki has barely been tested on his own serve. I'm not sure he's even lost a point on his own serve. Maybe he should have played in place of Janko Tipsarevic yesterday, or maybe he's trying to make his point that he thinks he should have played? 

Troicki/Zimonjic 6-3 1-2 Clement/Llodra*
Clement silences the crowd with some solid serving of his own. Playing with so much pressure the players are making it look like any other match. Impressive stuff.

Troicki/Zimonjic* 6-3 1-1 Clement/Llodra
Zimonjic carries on where he left off with some huge first serves which the French can't handle. The Serbians with another hold to love.  

Troicki/Zimonjic 6-3 0-1 Clement/Llodra*
How will France respond to that opening set loss? Well. Apart from a bizarre French challenge on their own serve (it was called good but they wanted it to be out) they take the first game to settle some jitters.

FIRST SET - SERBIA 6-3

 

Troicki/Zimonjic* 6-3 Clement/Llodra
Zimonjic serves for the first set and opens with a double fault before Troicki's reactions save the day on the very next point. An ace from Zimonjic gives the Serbians a 30-15 lead but he double faults again to let the French back in at 30-30. Nervous? You'd think so. Zimonjic hits a forehand millimetres out but fires down a big first serve on break point to take the game to deuce and then wins the first set with another booming serve.

Troicki/Zimonjic 5-3 Clement/Llodra*
Another annoucement is made to both sets of fans to respect the players when serving (at least I presume that was what was said!) and Clement holds his serve quite comfortably this time.

Troicki/Zimonjic* 5-2 Clement/Llodra
Troicki's serve is firing on all cylinders and another easy service game for the Serbians puts them in a commanding position in this first set.

Troicki/Zimonjic 4-2 Clement/Llodra*
A rapid exchange of volleys at the net gives France a 40-0 lead which they convert to try to get themselves back in this first set.

Troicki/Zimonjic* 4-1 Clement/Llodra
Despite going 40-0 up Zimonjic needlessly plays and misses a shot that looked like it was going out from France,  but Troicki smashes a winner to consolidate the first break of the day.

Troicki/Zimonjic 3-1 Clement/Llodra*
France again struggle to assert themselves in this rubber. Arnaud Clement goes 0-30 down on his first service game before facing three break points, the third of which the hosts convert to steal the first advantage in this match. Clement is clearly annoyed by the crowd making noises during his service game - welcome to Belgrade Arnaud.  

Troicki/Zimonjic* 2-1 Clement/Llodra
Viktor Troicki gets his big serve working instantly, holding to love. From the opening three games of this crucial doubles rubber you would have to fancy the hosts. Llodra looks nervous and the Serbians are hitting the ball very cleanly. With Zimonjic in such good form having recently won the ATP World Tour Finals this one could lift the roof of the Belgrade Arena.

Troicki/Zimonjic 1-1 Clement/Llodra*
Llodra gets proceedings underway for the French after a slight delay because a woman wearing a fur coat can't find her seat. It takes a while for the Frenchman to find his rhythm on the first serve and the nerves appear to be getting to him. The Serbs have a break point chance but Clement buries a good volley before taking the first game for his team with a mishit drop shot.  

Troicki/Zimonjic* 1-0 Clement/Llodra
Serbia won the toss and chose to serve. Nenad Zimonjic starts with a big first serve - a much better start than Janko Tipsarevic yesterday - but Michael Llodra picks up two winners to pile the pressure back on the Serbian team. They're up to the challenge though winning the next three points and the game.


The players are announced and pose for the official photo. The warm up starts and it goes without saying that both sets of doubles teams will be nervous. It could be crucial whoever gets off to the quickest start here.

 

There was a special on-court ceremony for Slobodan Zivojinovic, the president of the Serbian Tennis Federation. He has been awarded the Davis Cup Award of Excellence.

The players are out on court ahead of the doubles rubber. No changes in the nominations of the doubles teams for either player. It's a showcase for the over 30s today. Serbia's Nenad Zimonjic leads the way at 34, France's Arnaud Clement (32) and Michael Llodra (30) are also two of the more experienced members of the squads. Viktor Troicki must feel like a spring chicken.

 


 

Well it's time for doubles here in Belgrade and Serbia and France have both decided that experience is the way forward in what is sure to be a high-pressure match.

To say it is a must-win rubber is stating the obvious, but since the inception of the World Group in 1981 only two nations have managed to win Davis Cup without a victory in the doubles.

Spain defeated USA in 2004 despite the Bryans winning the doubles and Russia overcame France in 2002 even though Nicolas Escude and Fabrice Santoro prevailed in their match-up with Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Marat Safin.

 

 


  • More photos

    • Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra (FRA)Belgrade Arena
    • Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra (FRA)Viktor Troicki and Nenad Zimonic (SRB)
    • Michael Llodra and Arnaud Clement (FRA)French fans
    • Umpire Enric Molina, Viktor Troicki and Nenad Zimonjic (SRB)Viktor Troicki (SRB)
    • Nenad Zimonjic (SRB)
     
 
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    Davis Cup Radio is broadcasting live from the Final in Belgrade.

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    > Click here to launch the radio player

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