Serbia show who’s the boss
India’s bout against Davis Cup heavyweights Serbia ended with Viktor Troicki’s knockout punch. Having struggled against Rohan Bopanna in the opening rubber, Troicki upped his game against India’s no.1 Somdev Devvarman, beating him 6-4, 6-2, 7-5 in two hours and 43 minutes to give Serbia an unassailable lead of 3-1 in the World Group first round tie in Novi Sad on Sunday.
Janko Tipsarevic provided the frills after a hard-fought contest as he packed off Karan Rastogi 6-0, 6-1 in less than an hour in the dead fifth rubber.
Defending champions Serbia, with a 4-1 win, thus progressed into the quarterfinals while India will have to play the World Group play-off in September to retain their place in the elite 16-team league.
The score was level after Day One, following singles wins for Troicki and Devvarman, but the tie swung in Serbia’s favour during Saturday’s doubles rubber when Nenad Zimonjic and Ilija Bozoljac edged past Devvarman and Bopanna 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (10).
Devvarman’s consistency from the back of the court and his speed had broken down the defences of Tipsarevic on Day One. But the Indian, playing his third match in three days, seemed to lack the edge. He committed 67 unforced errors, against only 29 winners.
A volley error in the ninth game, gave Troicki a timely 5-4 lead in the first set. And having bagged that, the Serb ran away with the second, mixing up some drop shots with cracking winners.
Troicki, and Serbia, also enjoyed a clear home advantage as some of the line calls had the Indian bench up in arms.
After the players had exchanged breaks in the fourth and fifth games, tension reached boiling point when a call went Troicki’s way and allowed him to pull back to 3-3. An incensed Devvarman had a long argument with the chair umpire.
Though he fought off two break points in the next game, the Indian lost serve in the 11th game, and Troicki was quick to seal the set 7-5 and the tie for the holders.
The fifth rubber proved merely an excuse for Serbia to flex their muscles, as Rastogi was no match for Tipsarevic.