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Monfils magic as Serbia’s gamble fails

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Originally published on: 03/12/10 17:03

Gael Monfils picked the right time to win his first Davis Cup tie on foreign soil, crushing Janko Tipsarevic 6-1 7-6(4) 6-0 to give France the perfect start against Serbia in the Davis Cup final in Belgrade.

Monfils, the French No.1 in the absence of the injured Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, wrapped up the win in two hours and five minutes, a huge physical and psychological boost ahead of his likely showdown with world No.3 Novak Djokovic on Sunday.

Tipsarevic, chosen ahead of Serbian No.2 Viktor Troicki, struggled with his nerves early on amid the raucous atmosphere of the Belgrade Arena. The 26-year-old double-faulted twice to open the match, immediately handing Monfils a gift-wrapped break, and while the 24-year-old suffered his own nervy moments early on, he maintained his composure to hold serve before racing away to take the opening set with his third break of the match.

The onus was on Tipsarevic to give the 16,000-strong crowd something worth cheering for, and to his credit the Serb responded. A Monfils double-fault handed Tipsarevic his first break point of the match in game three of the second set, but Monfils hit back with a big forehand winner to snuff out the chance.

The Frenchman’s fate was out of his hands in game seven, however, when Tipsarevic again earned himself a break point. But the Serb fluffed a drop volley with Monfils bearing down on him, the threat of the Frenchman’s speed forcing Tipsarevic to ask a little too much of the stroke. It was as close as the Serb came to a meaningful breakthrough.

If form had deserted Tipsarevic when he and Serbia needed it most, fortune soon followed. In the opening point of the tiebreak, Monfils challenged a first serve called out. The ball had indeed caught the line, but rather than replay the point the Frenchman was given a 1-0 lead. Tipsarevic, who had returned the ball, and Serbia’s captain Bogan Obradovic appealed to the umpire, but to no avail.

Soon, it was all Monfils. The Frenchman recovered an early mini-break to take a two-set lead before playing a commanding third as a disheartened Tipsarevic crumbled. In all it was a mature performance from Sliderman, who patrolled the baseline and mixed up his play well. Monfils’ date with destiny awaits him on Sunday, but he couldn’t enter the reverse singles in finer form.

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