Davydenko, Youzhny give Russia 2-0 lead over ailing Serbia
MOSCOW: Nikolay Davydenko struggled past Davis Cup rookie Viktor Troicki 6-1, 1-6, 6-3, 1-6, 6-2 to give Russia a 2-0 lead over an ailing Serbian team Friday in their first-round Davis Cup match.
Earlier, Mikhail Youzhny rallied to beat last-minute substitute Nenad Zimonjic 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 in the opening singles. Fourth-ranked Davydenko breezed through the first set but then ran into trouble against the 114th-ranked Troicki and was extended to a five-set battle. Davydenko broke the Serb twice to take a 4-1 lead in the final set and broke him again to close out the match. Russia, helped by the withdrawal of Serbia’s top two players from Friday’s matches, can clinch the best-of-five series in the doubles Saturday.
Youzhny had been drawn to play Novak Djokovic, but the Australian Open champion became the second player after teammate Janko Tipsarevic to pull out of the opening singles, citing flu symptoms. Zimonjic, a doubles specialist ranked No. 689, was playing his first competitive singles match since April. He broke Youzhny with a drop shot in the third game and held on to win the first set. Youzhny had an early break in the second set and rallied from love-40 in the seventh game to level at 1-1. He then dominated the match, breaking the Serb twice in the third set and once in the fourth.
“We had no choice today. I was the only one (available) to play,” Zimonjic said. “I started really well and tried my best today, but it wasn’t enough.” Youzhny said Zimonjic’s late substitution for Djokovic caught him off guard. “I had some nerves, because it changed the situation immediately,” Youzhny said. “The whole week you’re preparing to play Djokovic and then 45 minutes before the match you learn that you are playing Zimonjic – it’s not easy. It took me a while to readjust.” Tipsarevic said Thursday that he had flu symptoms. Zimonjic said Tipsarevic had pulled a muscle.
Zimonjic was asked about his team’s health problems. “That’s what I should ask you. What happened?” Zimonjic said, apparently referring to allegations that German player Tommy Haas was poisoned before a scheduled Davis Cup match in Moscow last September. The International Tennis Federation later said there was no evidence to substantiate the allegation. “When we arrived we were good and everything was fine and, all of a sudden, two days later Tipsarevic pulled a muscle, Novak is sick. I also didn’t feel good last night – I also had a fever,” Zimonjic said. “It’s not easy in these circumstances.” The best-of-five series at Luzhniki Indoor Arena is being played on an indoor hard court. Russia is unbeaten in 14 home series since 1995. The winner will play either Belgium or the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals in April. Serbia is a newcomer to the World Group. Former Yugoslavia reached the Davis Cup semi-finals three times. ap