Novak Djokovic began the fightback and Janko Tipsarevic completed the job as Serbia overturned a 2-1 deficit against Canada in the Davis Cup semifinals on Sunday.
In scenes reminiscent of its 2010 triumph in the same arena, World No.1 Djokovic beat big-serving Milos Raonic 7-6(1), 6-2, 6-2 before Tipsarevic kept his nerve to beat Vasek Pospisil 7-6(3), 6-2, 7-6(6) in the deciding singles.
Serbia’s 3-2 win means it can now look forward to a home final against the Czech Republic, but it was heartbreak for Canada, which was looking to reach the final for the first time.
Djokovic was ruthless as he brushed aside 11th-ranked Raonic in front of a partisan 15,000 home crowd, but Tipsarevic had some anxious moments against Pospisil, who needed medical treatment for a sore elbow in the opening set. Thriving in the same kind of fervent home support which helped Serbia win the title for the first time against France three years ago, Djokovic was a class apart on the indoor clay.
“Winning the 2010 trophy was an inspiration to all of us to excel the following season on the ATP Tour and that’s why it has a very special place in my heart,” an emotional Djokovic said.
“I’ve won a number of Grand Slams, but nothing compares to sharing the joy of victory with your teammates, who are there for you and cheer on every shot you take on the court.”
“I think I played two outstanding matches given that I had to make a rapid change of time zones and surfaces (after the U.S. Open final defeat to Rafael Nadal in New York on Monday). The home crowd support carried me to victory.”
Djokovic’s victory set the scene for Tipsarevic to take centre stage. There were some jitters in the first set against Pospisil, who looked in danger of retiring after ending the fourth game grimacing in pain.
But Tipsarevic calmed the home crowd’s nerves with an emphatic tiebreak, bringing the fans to their feet.
The 29-year old Tipsarevic raced through the second set as the effects of a gruelling five-set win in Saturday’s doubles took its toll on Pospisil. Tipsarevic took a commanding 5-2 lead in the third set, but Pospisil produced one final salvo to force his way back from the brink and set up a tumultuous tiebreak.
Pospisil saved four match points from 2-6, one with a net cord, but Tipsarevic wrapped up the match in the most dramatic fashion, sending a winner past Pospisil who tumbled over.
“This is one of the sweetest wins of my career and I hereby thank my teammates for their fantastic support,” said a delighted Tipsarevic, after being mobbed by the rest of Serbia’s squad.
The results: Serbia 3 bt Canada 2 [Janko Tipsarevic bt Vasek Pospisil 7-6(3), 6-2, 7-6(6); Novak Djokovic bt Milos Raonic 7-6(1), 6-2, 6-2; Nenad Zimonjic & Ilija Bozoljac lost to Daniel Nestor & Pospisil 6-7(6), 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(5), 10-8].