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March 1, 2021
SPORTS

Tennis: Troicki gives Serbia first Davis Cup title

Viktor Troicki was the hero for Serbia as he thrashed France’s Michael Llodra in the decisive rubber to give the home side their first Davis Cup victory on Sunday evening. Troicki came in for the higher-ranked Janko Tipsarevic with the tie level at 2-2 and played superbly to defeat Llodra 6-2 6-2 6-3 in Belgrade, according to BBC Sports. Jubilant scenes followed Troicki’s perfect backhand pass on match point as his team-mates stormed the court to swamp the 24-year-old before the players and Serbian federation president Slobodan Zivojinovic sat down to have their heads shaved – a vow they made after the semi-finals.


Even Niki Pilic got the razor treatment after he became the first person to coach three nations to the Davis Cup title, having also achieved it with Germany and Croatia.


“This is the most unbelievable moment of my life. I am in shock,” Troicki said on court alongside Novak Djokovic, who won both his singles matches in the tie.


World number three Novak Djokovic had earlier brought Serbia level with a 6-2 6-2 6-4 win over Gael Monfils. Serbia are the 13th nation to win the Davis Cup since its inception in 1900. “My players showed that they are mentally the strongest team in the world. We showed we are number one” said Serbia captain Bogdan Obradovic, quoted by BBC Sports


And France captain Guy Forget admitted: “We had expected two difficult matches today, but what we didn’t expect was that Viktor would be so good.”


Serbia only made their Davis Cup debut in 1995 and both Djokovic and Obradovic had said before the final that victory would be the greatest achievement in the nation’s short sporting history. Serbia went into the final day trailing 2-1 after Llodra and Arnaud Clement had fought back from two sets down to claim a stunning win over Troicki and Nenad Zimonjic in Saturday’s doubles rubber.


Djokovic played superbly in front of a fervent crowd of over 16,000 at the Belgrade Arena as he swept past Monfils in Sunday’s opening singles to level the tie. “Under the circumstances, with huge pressure, I played an amazing match,” said Djokovic. “Everything was working.”


Both captains opted to change their choice of number two singles player for the decisive rubber, with Llodra coming in for Gilles Simon and, perhaps more surprisingly, Troicki taking over from the higher-ranked but out-of-form Tipsarevic. The chosen pair had never met before and the 30-year-old Llodra certainly had the edge in terms of experience, but it was Troicki, 24, who settled much the better in what was by far the biggest match of either man’s career.

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