Davis Cup WG Day 1: Davai Misha and Russia!!!
Youzhny takes first point for Russia
Russia has taken its expected 1-0 lead against Serbia following the withdrawal through illness of Novak Djokovic, but the world No. 8 Mikhail Youzhny had to get his house in order after an inspired start by Serbia’s doubles specialist Nenad Zimonjic.
When it was announced 45 minutes before the start of play that Djokovic had been suffering flu-like symptoms all week and had not recovered in time to play, there were fears that Zimonjic would struggle to win half a dozen games. After all, the 31-year-old is in the team for his doubles ranking of 7, not his singles ranking of 689 which is based on just two tournaments in the past year: a Challenger last March and a first round tour defeat to Benjamin Becker on the clay of Munich last April. He never expected to play singles, but with Janko Tipsarevic suffering from an ankle injury that’s likely to see him unavailable all weekend, Serbia were down to two players.
Youzhny caught off guard
Against such a background, the unexpected can happen, and with Youzhny having been psyched up to face the relentless power of Djokovic, it was perhaps understandable that he took nearly an hour to get going against the floated groundstrokes of Zimonjic. Credit also goes to the Serb, who seemed to know exactly when to come to the net and when to unleash his lethal flat backhand.
“When I know for a week that if I play on the first day it’ll be against Novak Djokovic and then 45 minutes before the match they say Novak is sick and it’s going to be Nenad Zimonjic,” said Youzhny. “It’s tough, because against Novak it’s a different tennis you have to play than against Nenad. I know how Nenad can play – he’s top ten in doubles, he has a great serve and volley, so he can play well on this surface, so I had some nerves because it changed the situation immediately.”
Something to sing about
Those nerves led to frustration. When Zimonjic broke for the third time to lead 5-2, Youzhny smashed his racket in anger and earned a code violation from the umpire Fergus Murphy. A few minutes later Youzhny had reason to be grateful to the Irishman, who overruled an apparent backhand winner from Zimonjic in the opening game of the second set. When Youzhny came through that game from 15-40 adrift to hold serve and then break in the second game, he had got his house in order. Suddenly the few hundred Russian fans in the Luzhniki arena, who had seemed as sad as the few dozen Serbian fans at Djokovic’s absence, had something to sing about, and they were serenaded by a sublime trumpeter whose lilting tones did much to make up for the slightly flat atmosphere.
Youzhny didn’t fully see off the challenge until the seventh game of the second set, when he recovered from 0-40 to win a game of four deuces in which Zimonjic had four break points in total. After that, the Serb began to look tired, his early advantage having clearly worn off, and the mountain he had to climb looking steeper by the minute. A break in the fifth game of the third and fourth sets confirmed that the tide had turned, and Youzhny ran out a winner in two hours 32 minutes.
The King Roger Federer
Pain is only temporary but victory is forever