Tennis: Without Djokovic, Serbia trails Argentina 2-0

AP, Friday 16 Sep 2011

Taking advantage of the absence of the top-ranked Novak Djokovic, Argentina took a commanding 2-0 lead over defending champion Serbia in the Davis Cup semifinals Friday

Argentina team
Juan Martin Del Potro of Argentina reacts after winning against Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia

Djokovic pulled out of the opening singles against David Nalbandian because of back pain, four days after beating Rafael Nadal in the U.S Open final, and was replaced by Troicki who lost 6-4, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.
 
In the other singles match Friday, Juan Martin del Potro beat Janko Tipsarevic 7-5, 6-3, 6-4.
 
Argentina needs one more point to reach its first final since 2008. Serbia has never made a comeback after trailing 0-2 after the opening singles.
The doubles are played Saturday.
 
Del Potro won a battle of long rallies against U.S. Open quarterfinalist Tipsarevic, finishing off the 2 hour, 31 minute match with an ace.
 
“We are in a good position now to win here, but nothing is over,” Del Potro said. “Today I played a really good match.”
 
Serbia team captain Bogdan Obradovic left open the possibility that Djokovic could team up with doubles specialist Nenad Zimonjic to try to keep Serbia alive in the best-of-five series.
 
“Novak is going to practice a little, get used to the surface and we will see,” Obradovic said. “This is a very tough situation for us.”
 
Argentina captain Tito Vazquez is keen to win the doubles and finish off the job. If Serbia makes it 2-1, Vazquez believes Djokovic is likely to play reverse singles against Del Potro on Sunday.
 
“Serbia has fantastic doubles, a lot of combinations,” Vazquez said. “But, we will fight and see what will happen.”
 
Tipsarevic, who retired with an injury in the U.S. Open quarterfinals against Djokovic after a tough battle, said Del Potro’s serve made the difference.
 
“I feel I didn’t play that bad, but Juan Martin played real good,” Tipsarevic, who is 0-3 against the Argentine, said. “The key was his serve, which was excellent.”
 
Nalbandian had little trouble against Djokovic’s replacement, who had 58 unforced errors on the indoor hard court in Belgrade Arena.
 
The Argentine dominated the match with precise baseline shots as the 18th-ranked Serb had trouble returning a mix of forehand and backhand winners. Nalbandian wrapped up the match with a neat backhand down the line.
 
“Djokovic’s absence helped us for sure,” Nalbandian said. “I found out some 25-30 minutes before the match that he will not play, but I was prepared to play either him or Troicki, it did not matter.”
 
Djokovic also pulled out of Serbia’s opening match of the semifinals last year against the Czech Republic because he needed rest after the U.S. Open, where he lost to Nadal in the final. Troicki was also a late replacement for Serbia on the opening day while Djokovic played the reverse singles.
 
“We knew for days that Djokovic would not be able to play, so this was no surprise,” Troicki said. “Nalbandian played good and I played bad, that was the key.”
 
Djokovic led Serbia to its first Davis Cup title last year after beating France 3-2 in the final with Troicki clinching the key point.
 
Serbia has entered the semifinals with a seven-match Davis Cup winning streak. The last team to beat Serbia in a home tie was Belgium in 2005, which was also the last time Djokovic lost a singles match at home.
 
Argentina is looking to win its first Davis Cup semifinal away from home. Since the formation of the World Group in 1981, Argentina has made nine semifinal appearances, losing all six while playing away.

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