Djokovic Fires Serbia Ahead In Davis Cup Final

by
Reuters
A fired-up Novak Djokovic gave Serbia a 1-0 lead against the Czech Republic in the Davis Cup final after beating Radek Stepanek 7-5 6-1 6-4 with a clinical performance in the opening singles rubber on Friday.

Djokovic Fires Serbia Ahead In Davis Cup Final

* Serbia take 1-0 lead on home court

* Djokovic pondering doubles

A fired-up Novak Djokovic gave Serbia a 1-0 lead against the Czech Republic in the Davis Cup final after beating Radek Stepanek 7-5 6-1 6-4 with a clinical performance in the opening singles rubber on Friday.

The world number two had to work hard to take the first set after allowing Stepanek to win three games in a row and level at 5-5 but moved up a gear to see off the battling Czech in front of a passionate 17,000 home crowd.

"The first set was crucial and after enduring a few poor games I came up with some big serves at crucial moments, especially when I faced break points," Djokovic told a news conference in the same imposing Kombank Arena which staged Serbia's momentous final victory over France in 2010.

"After that I felt pretty much in control of the match, although Stepanek is always an awkward opponent and he definitely played at a very high level today."

With Janko Tipsarevic injured and Viktor Troicki serving a doping ban, Djokovic may be asked to play doubles on Saturday.

"I am still not sure if I will play in the doubles (on Saturday) as we have to look at Sunday's reverse singles too and the overall exertions of the three-day schedule, but if selected I will ignore my exhaustion because a full house on home court brings out the best in me."

Having broken Stepanek to take a 4-2 lead in the opening set, Djokovic saved three break points in the next game but his stubborn opponent fought back in unlikely fashion for a serve-and-volley player, winning several long baseline rallies.

Stepanek squandered an opportunity to break Djokovic early in the second set and that proved his last chance as the 26-year-old began tormenting him with his baseline accuracy, unleashing several trademark winners down the line.

The third set went with serve until Djokovic broke Stepanek in the ninth game, carving open his rival with a crosscourt backhand winner before he sealed the match to draw a standing ovation from the home fans.

"I want to thank everyone who came here to support because I love playing for Serbia and being part of the team spirit only the Davis Cup can produce," Djokovic said.

 

LONG SEASON

"You don't get a chance to play in the final on home court every year so the motivation is huge and I will always be happy to find a way to overcome fatigue after a long season."

With Tomas Berdych a strong favourite to redress the balance in the tie against unheralded Dusan Lajovic in the day's second singles, the outcome of the final may hang on Saturday's doubles.

"I am not a doubles specialist of course but it's not like I've never played doubles and it also wouldn't be the first time I've been involved in all three Davis Cup days," he said.

"We will make the decision after Friday's second singles."