Birthday treat for Troicki as Serbia take control

Davis Cup by BNP Paribas 2010 winners Serbia took a 2-0 lead against Sweden in their World Group first round tie on Friday after Janko Tipsarevic beat Filip Prpic 63 63 64 and Viktor Troicki followed suit with a 64 63 57 63 defeat of Michael Ryderstedt in the opening singles rubbers.
The Serbians, aiming for their second final in three seasons after beating France in the 2010 showdown and losing last year’s semifinal to Argentina, delighted a capacity 4,000 home crowd in the Cair Hall hosting its maiden Davis Cup tie.
“The Davis Cup is an unpredictable competition and we are relieved to be in the driving seat to win the tie, although Saturday’s doubles could be a close contest because the Swedes have two very good players capable of springing an upset,” Serbia’s team captain Bogdan Obradovic said.
“This is the first ever Davis Cup tie to be played in Nis but the atmosphere was fantastic, as if this venue had hosted the event 20 times already. We are very grateful for the scintillating support we got from our fans today,” he added.
Tickets for the eagerly awaited contest in southern Serbia’s city of Nis sold like hot cakes and world No. 9 Tipsarevic lived up to expectations with a confident if not effervescent performance against the battling Prpic.
Although he made 17 unforced errors in the opening set, Tipsarevic played his best shots when he needed to and rifled in four aces, having broken Prpic in the fifth game and again in the ninth when he smacked a forehand winner down the line to capitalise on his first set point.
Tipsarevic also needed no second invitation in the second set, when he unleashed a backhand winner to break serve in the eighth game. The Serb then held his own comfortably to put himself in the driving seat and the writing was on the wall for Prpic after Tipsarevic again broke serve in the opening game of the third set.
Prpic, who was ranked 194th in 2006 before a series of injuries forced him to plummet, refused to lie down but Tipsarevic snuffed out any hopes of a comeback the Swede with Croatian and Slovakian roots might have had when he dispatched a superb crosscourt backhand shot to hold serve and lead 4-2 in the final set.
The flamboyant Serb, who soared to number 9 in the ATP rankings after a highly successful season in 2011, heaped praise on his opponent after wrapping up the match in two hours six minutes.
“Prpic is a serious player whose ATP ranking doesn’t reflect his quality. I played well enough to win the match, I had to work hard to hold serve at times but the important thing is that I managed to prevent him from breaking serve. I want to stress a fantastic fan turnout, we’ve never had a sellout crowd on a Friday before and I am really delighted,” Tipsarevic said in a courtside interview.
After receiving a warm applause from the home fans in appreciation of his 26th birthday, Troicki took centre stage from Tipsarevic, conjuring a break of Ryderstedt’s serve in the opening set and two more in the second to dispel any fears the Serbs might have had that Sweden might head into Saturday’s doubles on level terms.
Like his compatriot, Troicki held serve with some aplomb in the opening two sets and never really looked in danger of getting overpowered by Ryderstedt, who suffered a second successive loss in four sets to the Serb after getting beaten when Serbia overcame Sweden 4-1 away in last year’s quarterfinals.
Games went with serve rather comfortably in the third set, as both players rifled one ace after another, until the 10th game, when Ryderstedt double-faulted twice but somehow held on after Troicki squandered four match points.
With his confidence boosted, the Swede then hit several impressive winners to break serve for the first time in the match and took his second set point to haul himself back into the match.
The two big-serving players continued to pound each other with aces and service winners in the fourth set, before Troicki finally broke Ryderstedt in the sixth game after the Scandinavian committed several unforced errors. He then saved a double break point to hold serve with his 22nd ace and went on to clinch the enthralling contest in two hours thirty-two minutes, having converted his fifth match point.
“This was definitely the best birthday party I’ve ever had and I will remember it for the rest of my life because the atmosphere in the Cair Hall was great,” Troicki said. “We hope that we will be able to clinch the tie by winning Saturday’s doubles.”