Novak Djokovic saved Serbia from the clutches of defeat in the first round of the Davis Cup after he came from two sets to one to beat Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan.
Djokovic survives scare
The Serbs trailed by two matches to one on the final day of the tie at the Aleksandar Nikolic Arena in Belgrade, after Djokovic and Nenad Zimonjic had lost Saturday’s doubles match.
With Djokovic and world number 23 Viktor Troicki on their side, Serbia remained the clear favourites due to having the significantly higher ranked singles players on the final day.
Even so Djokovic , the world number one, was pushed to the limit by Kukushkin, a player ranked 78 places below the 11 Grand Slam Champion.
The Kazakh number one, who beat Troicki on Friday, took the first set and then went two sets to one up before Djokovic finally prevailed 6-7(6) 7-6(3) 4-6 6-3 6-2.
There were no such problems for Troicki who beat world number 200 Aleksandr Nedovyesov 6-2 6-3 6-4 in the fifth and deciding rubber.
Serbia will now host defending champions Great Britain in the quarter finals, after the Brits defeated Japan in Birmingham.
Last year's runners up fall at the first hurdle
Elsewhere last year’s runners up Belgium lost to Croatia on home turf on their clay courts in Liège.
David Goffin levelled the tie for hosts after beating Marin Cilic 6-4 6-4 3-6 7-5. However 19-year-old Borna Coric won the tie for Croatia, beating Kimmer Coppejans in straight sets.
Croatia will now face the USA in the quarter finals after Jim Courier’s side beat Australia on the grass courts at the Kooyong Tennis Club.
Lukas Rosol was also a hero for the Czech Republic, after beating Germany’s Alexander Zverev in another deciding rubber and the Czechs will now face France in the last eight.
Argentina and Italy were also victories and will meet in the other quarter-final clash.