Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra come closer to another title for France as they go 2-1 up in the tie against Serbia.
|A disbelieving Troicki is hoisted high by teammates as Serbia win their first Davis Cup title [EPA]|
Serbia stormed to their first Davis Cup title after Viktor Troicki thrashed France’s Michael Llodra to secure a memorable 3-2 victory inside a rocking Belgrade Arena.
Chants of “Viktor” and “Serbia” reverberated around the imposing 17,000-capacity venue as Troicki, a late swap for the deciding rubber, won 6-2 6-2 6-3 against a powerless opponent who fell apart in the biggest match of his life.
Amazing scenes followed Troicki’s perfect backhand pass on matchpoint as his team mates stormed the court to swamp the 24-year-old before the players, and Serbian federation president Slobodan Zivojinovic, sat down on chairs to have their heads shaved – a vow they made after their semi-final victory.
Even Niki Pilic got the razor treatment after he became the first person to coach three different nations to the Davis Cup title, having also achieved it three times with Germany and most recently with his native Croatia in 2005.
The 61-year-old Pilic was drafted in three years ago to support unassuming Serbia captain Bogdan Obradovic.
“This is the most unbelievable moment of my life,” Troicki said on court alongside an elated Djokovic who had earlier levelled the tie by outclassing Gael Monfils.
“I was remembering when I was a child how I was dreaming one day to play such a match, such an important match for my country,” he added later.
“Today I was lucky enough.”
For nine-times champions France there was just gloom and despondency on Sunday.
The admirable band of French fans who travelled to the Serb capital to help create an electifying atmosphere for three days had little to cheer on Sunday.
They could only watch and wonder as the post-match mayhem unfolded before their eyes while Llodra, preferred to Gilles Simon in a late switch, appeared distraught as he slumped on his chair at the end and was comforted by his captain Guy Forget.
“To be this close to our goal, it hurts. What is hard is that in both matches today we never caught a glimpse of victory. The other guy was better in every area,” Forget said.
Serbia, bidding to become the 13th nation to win the trophy, begun the day 2-1 in arrears and with no margin for error after Nenad Zimonjic and Troicki had blown a two-set lead against Arnaud Clement and Llodra to lose Saturday’s doubles.
However, in Djokovic they had the one truly world class performer on display and his 6-2 6-2 6-4 victory over Monfils never looked in doubt from the moment he strutted on to court with the “Rocky” theme tune blaring out.
Monfils had never beaten the Serb in their five previous meetings and, apart from a few blasts from his formidable forehand in the third set, he looked lost at a venue that has become a fortress for Serbia. They are now unbeaten there in five ties.
Later, having willed on Troicki from courtside, the 23-year-old Djokovic described his and Serbia’s joy.
“We tried not to lose our heads but you could feel the disappointment after the doubles match yesterday because we were so close, Djokovic said.
“To be able to perform as well as we did today under the circumstances is just too good.”
A haunting Serbian World War I folk song rung out between games throughout the tie and Troicki made sure he wrote his name into the hearts of the fans who filled the stadium.
After a sensational eight-game winning streak from 0-2 in the second set broke Llodra’s weak resistance it was just a matter of counting down the game to the finishing line.
A weak Llodra volley brought up two match points and the best party in Belgrade for years started in earnest when Troicki pinged a backhand winner past the despairing Frenchman.