The fourth quarterfinal of the 2017 Davis Cup World Group saw Spain meet Serbia for a semifinal berth. The tie was played in Belgrade, and the home players brought their best possible team: World No. 2 Novak Djokovic alongside Viktor Troicki, Dusan Lajovic and the doubles specialist Nenad Zimonjic.
Spain brought a pretty good team too, despite the fact that Rafael Nadal and Roberto Bautista Agut weren’t playing. Instead, the countries’ No. 3 and No. 4, Pablo Carreno Busta and Albert Ramos-Vinolas, took place in the Davis Cup limelight. They were joined by next-gen player Jaume Munar and the world-class doubles player Marc Lopez.
The two teams had met just once in the competition due to the fact that Spain was relegated from the World Group in 2014 and played in Zone I the following two years. In the 2009 showdown Spain defeated Serbia with both Nadal and David Ferrer taking down Novak Djokovic in straight sets. Spain went on to lift the Davis Cup trophy the same year.
The first rubber saw 12-time Grand Slam champion Djokovic take on Albert Ramos-Vinolas. The two met twice before and each time it was a straightforward win for the Serb. A similiar story played out this time around as well as Djokovic, who’s been struggling to find his form, managed to dispatch the Spaniard easily: 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.
The second rubber was seen by many as a potentially deciding factor in the semifinal. The outcome of the matchup between Pablo Carreno Busta and Viktor Troicki was definitely hard to predict, and a tough match was expected. That was not the case in the Aleksander Nikolic hall, as the Serbian No. 2 scraped through his opponent with ease, not giving him a chance to comeback to get back in the match at any point. The final result was 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 for Troicki.
On Saturday the Serbian team had a chance to clinch the tie and they gave everything they had. The match between Troicki/Zimonjic and Carreno Busta/Lopez contained a lot of ups and downs with both teams regaining advantage. However, in the fifth and deciding set the Serbian duo that proved stronger: 4-6, 7-6, 6-0, 4-6, 6-2.
In the dead rubbers Jaume Munar had his chances against Dusan Lajovic, but lost in three sets, and Albert Ramos-Vinolas earned a point for Spain crushing 40-year old Nenad Zimonjic 6-2, 6-1.
Next up for the 2010 winners is a semifinal clash against France in September. The team, led by Yannick Noah, is to be considered the toughest of opponents with players like Gael Monfils, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Richard Gasquet on the team. But if Djokovic is playing somewhat close to his potential during that point in time, Serbia should perhaps be seen as the favourites to get to the final.
Be sure to check Tennis-Pulse for the latest tennis news and live point by point coverage of the upcoming ATP Masters events.