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Djokovic beats Monfils as Davis Cup final goes down to the wire

National tennis idol Novak Djokovic struggled at the end but emerged with a win to leave 17,000 fans with weekend victory hopes intact as he pulled host Serbia level 1-1 with France to end opening day play at the Davis Cup final on Friday.

sports Updated: Dec 05, 2010 23:06 IST

Serbia's Novak Djokovic pummelled France's Gael Monfils on Sunday to tie the Davis Cup final at 2-2 and set up a nailbiting climax later in the Belgrade Arena.

Djokovic completed a 6-2 6-2 6-4 victory to the delight of the vast majority of the near 17,000 crowd and put the hosts on the verge of their first Davis Cup final triumph.

To thicken an intriguing the plot still further both team captains then changed their expected line-ups for the second reverse singles which will decide the tie.

France's Michael Llodra, who won a cliffhanger doubles with Arnaud Clement on Saturday to edge France 2-1 ahead, will face Serbia's Viktor Troicki who was preferred to Janko Tipsarevic.

Monfils, who had given France a 1-0 lead on Friday by outplaying Tipsarevic, was no match for a fired-up Djokovic who celebrated his victory like a triumphant prize fighter, legs apart and fists clenched, bellowing at the crowd.

"You have to make noise to silence the French fans," an emotional Djokovic implored the crowd. "We are at home, we have to make it count now."

"This is one of the best matches I've played in my career in the circumstances," added the world number three.

"I have a lot of respect for all the French players, especially Gael who is a long-time friend."

Djokovic, who won both his singles without dropping a set, was dominant for two sets but had some alarms in the third when Monfils relaxed and started striking massive forehands.

Monfils broke to lead 4-3 with a scorching winner which prompted Djokovic to destroy his racket frame in rage but the Serb regained his composure to hit back and clinch victory in little more than two hours.

Despite a deafening noise from the packed stands, which also contained 1,200 travelling French fans kitted out in all blue and holding aloft giant tricolours, there was no

repeat of the bad feeling which at times marred Saturday's doubles.

Change in schedule?

The Davis Cup final could be brought forward from its usual early December date, ITF boss Francesco Ricci Bitti said on Sunday.

This is, Bitti explained, because of the ATP decision to shorten the men's season by a fortnight.

The Italian, without disclosing details, hinted that future schedules could change after the ATP decided to end season in the middle instead of late November.

“Obviously we don't want to play Davis Cup (too) far away from the season,” said the administrator. “But no decision has been taken. The Davis Cup Committee and the Board of the ITF is considering the situation.

“Surely an announcement will be done as soon as decided. But obviously we are studying how to close the gap between the present date and the new date of the circuit.”

First Published: Dec 04, 2010 12:25 IST