BELGRADE: Defending champions Great Britain took a 2-1 lead over hosts Serbia in their Davis Cup World Group quarter-final in Belgrade yesterday. In the second singles rubber, rescheduled from Friday due to heavy rain, Dusan Lajovic defeated James Ward 6-1, 6-3, 6-2 to pull the hosts level. But in Saturday’s doubles Jamie Murray and Dominic Inglot defeated Filip Krajinovic and Nenad Zimonjic 6-1, 6-7 (2/7), 6-3, 6-4 to move Britain to within one win of the last four.
In the first singles match on Friday Kyle Edmund had eased past Janko Tipsarevic 6-3, 6-4, 6-0. Serbia, the 2010 champions, are without world number one Novak Djokovic, who pulled out of the quarter-final after his shock third-round exit at Wimbledon and with one eye on the Rio Olympics.
Briton Andy Murray also opted out after claiming his second Wimbledon title at the All England Club at the weekend. Ward can win the tie in the first rubber today against Tipsarevic, but if the Serbian veteran wins then it will come down to a deciding match between Edmund and Lajovic, the two teams’ highest-ranked players.
Meanwhile, the world’s top doubles pair of Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert put France 2-1 ahead of the Czech Republic in their Davis Cup World Group quarter-final yesterday. Wimbledon champions Mahut and Herbert, ranked first and second in the world, beat Radek Stepanek and Lukas Rosol 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 in just over three hours.
Mahut and Herbert took only 25 minutes to cruise through the opening set on the hardcourt of the Werk Arena in the eastern Czech steel hub of Trinec. The Czechs recovered in the second set, making fewer mistakes and taking a 3-0 lead which they converted into a 6-3 win.
The French pair regained their dominance again in set three, winning 6-3, but the Czechs, led by 37-year-old veteran Stepanek, fought back in the fourth with two breaks to one. Finally, Rosol lost his serve to love in the first game of the last set and that was all the French needed to take the set 6-4. “I think we played a fantastic game against the world’s best pair, we gave it everything,” said Stepanek.
“One set doesn’t mean anything in these long rubbers, we managed to come back and fought until the end.” On Friday, the Czechs took a lead as world number 78 Rosol stunned 10th-ranked Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4, 3-6, 4-6, 7-6 (10/8), 6-4. Lucas Pouille, ranked 21st, then swept 50th-ranked Jiri Vesely 7-6 (7/2), 6-4, 7-5 to put France level in his Davis Cup debut.
In today’s reverse singles, Vesely is due to face Tsonga before Rosol takes on Pouille. The Czech Republic won the Davis Cup in 2012 and 2013, while France last lifted the trophy in 2001. The winner of the tie will face either the United States or Croatia in the semi-finals. – AFP