DAVIS CUP FINAL
Serbia Wins Maiden Davis Cup Crown
by Kate Flory|
Serbia has been crowned Davis Cup champion for the first time after Viktor Troicki produced a stunning display to defeat France’s Michael Llodra 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 in the deciding fifth rubber in Belgrade Sunday.
“I’m in shock, after the last shot I couldn’t believe this happened,” said Troicki on court. “I think for the next few days I’ll still feel a little bit different. Maybe in five days I’ll feel the real feeling of winning the Davis Cup. This is the most intense pressure ever in my life and to win it in front of the home crowd is the best possible way. It’s unbelievable.”
Earlier, World No. 3 Novak Djokovic had kept alive Serbia’s hopes as he defeated French No. 1 Gael Monfils 6-2, 6-2, 6-4 to level the final at 2-2. “It was an unbelievable emotion, under the circumstances with the huge pressure, I played an amazing match,” said Djokovic. “Everything was working for me today.”
In celebration of becoming the 13th nation to win the Davis Cup title, all of the Serbian team had their heads shaved on court prior to the trophy presentation.
“I want to congratulate my team they played very good, especially this third day, hopefully we’ll play again like this next year,” said team captain Bogdan Obradovic.
Djokovic was quick to dominate Monfils in the baseline rallies and did not relent throughout the first set, keeping the Frenchman under constant pressure and drawing inevitable errors to break serve twice and take the first set 6-2.
Monfils continued to impose himself on Djokovic from the back of the court in the second set, all too often finishing second-best in their lengthy, athletic exchanges, and the Serbian broke serve in the sixth and eighth games to take a commanding two-set lead.
Perhaps inspired by his teammates’ fight back in the doubles a day earlier, Monfils took the match to Djokovic in the third set and twice led by a break of serve. However, Djokovic channeled his frustration into aggression in his game and was able to recoup the breaks both times to lead 5-4. In the 10th game a costly double fault from Monfils gave Djokovic two match points and the Serbian converted his second as Monfils netted a backhand.
World No. 30 Troicki was then tasked with facing the in-form Llodra, who had not lost a Davis Cup rubber in 2010, including victory over Troicki in Saturday’s doubles rubber. The 24-year-old Belgrade native was unfazed, though, and made a dream start to the match, breaking serve twice to race to a one-set lead.
Llodra looked set to stage a fight back in the second set as he secured an early break of serve, but the Frenchman was exposed at the net in the following game as Troicki immediately broke back. It sparked a run of eight straight games for the Serbian, who caused endless problems for Llodra with his exceptional return of serve and passing shots throughout the match.
Troicki put his foot down in the third set and quickly established a double break advantage as Llodra double faulted on break points in the first and fifth games. The Frenchman put forward one last effort to derail Troicki, chipping and charging to great effect to recoup one of the service breaks in the sixth game.
Troicki held strong in the closing stages, though, and more impressive returning from the right-hander earned him two match points in the ninth game. He converted his second chance with a backhand cross-court return winner to clinch victory in two hours and 13 minutes.
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