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Old 02-09-2003, 10:21 PM   #11
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Feb 07, 2003 0-1 after 1st match

Novak Gives Czechs Early Advantage In Ostrava

Jiri Novak won the first point for the Czech Republic in their Davis Cup by BNP Paribas first round World Group tie against Russia in Ostrava.

The 27-year-old proved why he belongs to the world’s top 10 when he beat the 21-year-old Russian Nikolay Davydenko in the first rubber 64 46 61 61. The 2002 Australian Open semifinalist struggled a little bit during the first two sets, but at the end he was dominating the match in front of 5000 fans at the Palac Kultury Sportu in Ostrava.

Novak said: "I was nervous a little bit at the beginning because I have never played him and I really wanted to win the first point for my team.”

Davydenko found out in Ostrava that the atmosphere in Davis Cup ties is completely different to that at other tournaments. "I tried to play the same way as I play at other tournaments, stay calm psychologically but I wasn't able to do it the whole match. The matches in Davis Cup are completely different," said the winner of this year’s Adelaide tournament.

Novak broke his Russian opponent for the first time in the fourth game of the first set when Davydenko double faulted on the second break point. But the Czech number one then lost his serve and a few minutes later Davydenko had levelled at 3-3. Novak took the first set thanks to some good shots in the tenth game when the Russian failed to convert a 40-0 lead on his serve. "I had a good luck at the end of the first set," added Novak.

Davydenko, born in Severodonetsk in the Ukraine, continued to fight hard in the second set, putting a lot of pressure on Novak by attacking his backhand with some powerful shots. He led 2-0 and 4-2, but didn't convert any of four break points in the seventh game and needed four set points to wrap up the second set. "Davydenko started to feel the ball a lot better and played in the second set really better than me," Novak said.

Trailing 3-0 in the third set, Davydenko asked for a massage for his right shoulder, but the bigger problem was the fact that Novak had raised the level of his tennis, serving a lot better and coming to the net whenever possible. The Russian couldn’t find any answer to Novak’s solid game.

"I don't know why I didn't play my game in the last two sets. But it is true that Novak started to play better and started to control the game after the second set," Davydenko added. He didn't show any nerves in his Davis Cup debut during the first two sets,but in the end won just two of the last 14 games. After two hours and 38 minutes, Novak converted his first match point when a backhand by Davydenko finished in the net.
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