Serbia will need to rally from behind on Sunday after dropping the doubles rubber to Kazakhstan. Aleksandr Nedovyesov and Andrey Golubev were poised and in control as they delivered an important win 6-3, 7-6 (3), 7-5 over Serbia in World Group play in the Davis Cup.
Kazakhs Rebound After Dropping Serve First
The doubles rubber between Serbia and Kazakhstan opened with four straight holds of serve as the opening set moved to 2-2. It was the Serbs who drew first blood with a break in the fifth game, converting the second break of the game to secure the narrow lead. Novak Djokovic and Nenad Zimonjic would fight right back to get the set back on serve with a break at 3-3. After a hold from the Kazakh pair, Zimonjic gifted a second break with three straight double faults. Ahead 5-3, the visitors would serve out the set to stun the crowd the lead. Nedovyesov and Golubev did themselves a great favor with some massive second serves, where they won six of ten points in the set.
Second Set Decided in Tiebreak
After a tense opening game where the Serbs were forced to fight off three break points, the second set settled with the servers showing their composure. Both teams were solid with their first serves as holds sent the set to a tiebreak. The Serbs would combine to win 21 of 28 first serve points in the set, while the Kazakhs won 22 of 25. Djokovic and Zimonjic ignited the crowd with a mini-break that saw them edge out to a 2-0 lead in the breaker. Errors would then swallow the Serbs' hopes as Nedovyesov and Golubev took advantage to win seven of the next eight points. They would take the tiebreak 7-3 and go up two sets to love. The Serb duo had 23 unforced errors in the set, more than double what they had in the first.
Serbs Can't Break Kazakh's Serves
Nedovyesov and Golubev continued to serve stoutly in the third set, a key to their dominance all match. The Serb duo would finally get a look at a break point in the third game, but it was erased quickly. The set would remain on serve easily until the 8th game. There, Djokovic and Zimonjic were again forced to fight hard as Golubev and Nedovyesov peppered them with solid volleying and firm ground strokes. The Kazakhs would see three break points, but bail out the Serbs when Golubev netted an easy winner. That allowed the set to stay on serve at 4-4. The Serbs would get one more crack at a break in the 11th game, but the Kazakhs held firm again. They saved their third break point out of four opportunities to work to a 6-5 lead.
Errors would again plague the Serbs late as Zimonjic added to their tally of 23 unforced errors in the set. That set up the Kazakhs to convert their first match point off the Serbs' serve to close out the rubber in straight sets in just under two and a half hours.
Following the match, Novak Djokovic said that Kazakhstan deserved all the credit on Saturday, "They showed real quality today and deservedly won. They were constant throughout the match and had no lapses in concentration. The second and third sets were tight and we tried as hard as we could, but we lost to a better team."
Sunday's Reverse Singles
Despite trailing 2-1, Serbia will be confident of sending the tie to a decisive fifth rubber on Sunday. The fourth rubber will feature Novak Djokovic against Mikhail Kukushkin. Djokovic has won their lone meeting on the ATP World Tour, a three set win in Shanghai in 2014. If Djokovic wins as expected, that could leave the Serbian hopes riding on Viktor Troicki. He is scheduled to get the start in a fifth rubber against Nedovyesov. Troicki looked poor in his loss to Kukushkin on Friday, but the Serbs don't have a legitimate substitute for him.
Filip Krajinovic is the only other option and he is still inexperienced at this stage with just seven singles rubbers to his credit. Only a few of those have been "live" with Krajinovic hard pressed to perform against the best. Troicki has 25 rubbers under his belt, but has lost six straight sets since last year's quarterfinal against Argentina. That is where he led Federico Delbonis two sets to love. Delbonis would rally to win in five and then Kukushkin crushed Troicki in the second rubber in straight sets on Friday.