Canada clinch vital doubles to edge ahead

Daniel Nestor and Vasek Pospisil ground out a truly epic 67(6) 64 36 76(5) 108 win over Nenad Zimonjic and Ilija Bozoljac in Saturday’s doubles to give Canada what could turn out to be a vital 2-1 lead in their Davis Cup by BNP Paribas semifinal.

The marathon thriller, which lasted four hours and 20 minutes, swung one way and then the other before Pospisil held serve in the last game of the strength-sapping encounter to delight several hundred frenetic Canadian fans in Belgrade’s Kombank Arena.

“When all four players are playing well it’s always going to come down to a few points and we were fortunate to serve it out after carving out a break in the penultimate game of the match,” the elated 23-year old told a news conference after wild celebrations with the visiting supporters.

The 41-year old Nestor, who won one French Open and two Wimbledon titles with his former doubles partner Zimonjic before they split up in 2010, added: “It was a high quality match. We hung in there, stayed with it and won in a tough environment. Our celebrations were very emotional because we are having a great year.” “The support from the Canadian fans was amazing and we really appreciate how they sacrificed their time to come here, we’ve never had support like this away from home before.”

The Serbs reacted superbly, winning five points in a row as Bozoljac wrong-footed Nestor with a return that clipped the net to keep Serbia afloat before he and Zimonjic threw the home faithful into raptures. Sporting drums and national flags, Canadian fans were not to be silenced or denied their share of joy, as Nestor replied with a break of Zimonjic’s serve in the eighth game of the second set to tie the score. Superb volleying and passing shots by Bozoljac restored Serbia’s advantage as his backhand down the middle broke Nestor’s serve and had the visitors on the back foot again.

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Games went with serve in the fourth set until the tie-break, when Serbia squandered an early 2-0 lead and allowed Pospisil to put Canada back on level terms with an ace. The titanic tussle continued in the fifth and final set, with Bozoljac pulling the lion’s share of the weight for Serbia with ferocious service games as well as unstoppable backhand winners, as the 37-year old Zimonjic started to show signs of fatigue. Zimonjic slammed a backhand into the net on his serve to hand the Canadians the break they needed and Pospisil held in the final game to put his country in a commanding position ahead of Sunday’s reverse singles.

Serbia’s world No.1 Novak Djokovic now faces a tricky test in his first meeting against big-serving Milos Raonic in the opening match on Sunday before Janko Tipsarevic locks horns with Pospisil. Although they were disappointed with the second five-set loss of the tie after Tipsarevic was forced into submission by Raonic on Friday, the Serbians were still upbeat about their chances of engineering a final twist.

“The only positive is that both Raonic and Pospisil will be feeling the effects of their exertions and that gives us the confidence that we can came out on top in this sizzling match-up with the Canadians,” team captain Bogdan Obradovic told a news conference. “They were calmer at crunch time and a little bit luckier, we are behind but still optimistic that Novak and Janko can turn this around in tomorrow’s reverse singles.”

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Zimonjic, for his part, heaped praise on Pospisil. “The lad has made tremendous progress in the last year or so, he has conjured an impressive record against top players on the tour in both the singles and doubles. Pospisil made the difference today, showing remarkable composure under the greatest pressure.”