Serbia make semi-finals

It takes a lot to silence this Croatian crowd – even the threat of a penalty from umpire Enric Molina couldn’t manage it – but Novak Djokovic ultimately did with an emphatic straight sets victory over Marin Cilic to put Serbia into their first Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group semifinal.  

They say the Serbian don’t travel very well, but they managed the short journey to their neighbouring country for this historic tie without too much trouble and can now enjoy the comforts of home against Czech Republic in September.

Djokovic relishes tough win

Neutrals and home fans alike – there were virtually no visiting fans in the Spaladium Arena in Split – were hoping that the Croatian No. 1 could make a match of it and take it to a fifth and final rubber, for which the Croatians would have been favourites. But Djokovic was in no mood to oblige and never gave his young opponent a glimmer of a chance, thrashing him 63 63 62 in 2 hours 24 minutes.

Djokovic’s cool demeanour disappeared in the moment of victory as he collapsed on his back. In these sort of situations you need a tough skin, but underneath he was jelly like the rest of us.

He was back on his feet before his ecstatic captain, Bogdan Obradovic, could reach him and as he and his teammates exchanged high-fives the victors were sportingly applauded by the Croatian crowd with their cheerstix.

“Personally, I had a lot of responsibility with the package that I carried on my back before this tie, but right now I feel so relieved that we won," said Djokovic. "We won in one of the toughest atmospheres against a team that has a lot of success in this competition.”

Cilic picks Serbia for the final

It was important for Djokovic to get off to a good start so that the crowd had less to cheer about if more to jeer about, and that was precisely what he did. Cilic didn’t help himself by playing a little too passively and during the first five games – all of which he lost – he collected just seven points.

After he eventually broke back in a particularly noisy game the crowd were warned of a possible penalty for a partisan crowd violation. It kept them quiet long enough for Djokovic to wrap up the set, but when he gave it the fist pump after coming out on top at the end of a high-class rally to hold a difficult game for 3-1, the crowd were on his case again. In fact, Cilic invariably came out the worse in the rallies.

Another break put him in total control and though Cilic broke back he promptly took the set by breaking Cilic to love. The Croatian has won just one set in five meetings now with Djokovic and his heart wasn’t in it for the long slog back from two sets down.

“I tried to get in the match and put a little more pressure on him but he was neutralizing me and defending really good and it was not easy to find the key to solve the puzzle. They have a good team, a really good team, actually. With their own crowd I think they can go to the final.”

Janko Tipsarevic extended Serbia’s win to 4-1 by defeating Antonio Veic in the dead fifth rubber 62 76(5).


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