By Ros Satar, in Belgrade
- Kyle Edmund def. Janko Tipsarevic 6-3 6-4 6-0
- James Ward will play his match against Dusan Lajovic at 12pm on Saturday
- Doubles still scheduled for 4pm (3pm BST)
BELGRADE, SERBIA – Kyle Edmund scored a win in his first outing as the British Davis Cup No. 1 player, beating Janko Tipsarevic in straight sets in the quarter-final between Serbia and Great Britain.
After a nervy hold to open his game as the British No. 1 player at this tie, torrential rains did their best to blight the home team after just three games.
At the restart, it was a sluggish start from Tipsarevic, who signals his comeback to Davis Cup competition by (potentially) playing both singles rubbers and the doubles.
A break on the resumption for the Brit and a hold to consolidate put the Brits 4-1 up. Tipsarevic did rally to force the Brit to serve it out, but if he expected Edmund to show nerves in front of a partisan crowd he was disappointed as the Yorkshire-man served the first set out to love.
The home hope was having a nightmare out there – barely able to hit the ball through the court, which was no doubt becoming quite heavy and extremely slow out there.
Edmund got off to a roaring start breaking on his first opportunity before holding for a 2-0 lead, prompting Tipsarevic to argue his case to Pascal Maria.
They started to carry on through the third game amidst booms of Balkan thunder, before the ground-staff scurried to get the courts covered again.
After a torrential downpour, the skies looked to clear once more and the inspection time of 8pm (local) was brought forward to a walk on time of 7:50pm as the pair took to the court but there was to be more drama.
The court has a thin layer of top dressing, and with the torrential rain, Tipsarevic caught his foot and went over on (as he admitted after his match) swollen ankles due to an allergic reaction. With Edmund wrapping up the second set starting with a break and then swapping breaks mid-way with the Serbian, once more a close out to love put GB 2-0 up.
From that point on it was smooth sailing as Tipsarevic won just two points on his serve in the third set, and ever consistent, Edmund sealed the deal with a love service game to give GB a 1-0 lead overall.
Common sense prevailed as there appeared to be discussions about starting the second match, and play was called for the night.
A visibly sick-looking, coughing Tipsarevic took to the stand, saying: “Yeah it wasn’t fun (smiling). I got outplayed – I wouldn’t say from the very beginning. I felt I gave away a lot of presents to Kyle in the first set but from the middle of second until the end I was completely outplayed.
“The main problem, I think even the birds in the sky saw that I am unfit due to an illness that I had before this event. I was trying kind of to hide it on the draw ceremony but it was obvious.
“I was on antibiotics for a very long time and I had very few hours of tennis before this match so I am trying to do my best but I just couldn’t keep the momentum and the fitness going in my favour.”
He was able to laugh as he agreed that when the players were asked at the end of the second set if they wanted to play on, he should have maybe said no, looking at the ‘bagel’ Edmund delivered.
He added: “He loves when he has a lot of time on his strokes, especially on his forehands and I feel that he loves the really really heavy conditions because then he has no fear in terms of misplaying, or miss-hitting the forehand.
“He just rips it and in a lot of the cases because of the conditions, the temperature, the court, the balls, it’s going in. Very rarely he misses. I mean, he was a better player but I just have to say the conditions were really in his favour.”
For Edmund, after the heartbreak of leading David Goffin on his Davis Cup debut in Ghent in the final, only to lose a five setter, this was a boost.
Edmund said: “I think he is still [able to] bring a level that is good enough to win. So I knew I had to bring my A-game and yeah I thought I played well tonight and I was pleased with my level.
“It was a nice feeling to get that win. It was my first win at Davis Cup for my country, I think it was my first straight sets win in a best of five set match. You know there’s lots of ways to look at it. Great to get the team off to a winning start.”
Despite initial plans to play the second match between James Ward and Dusan Lajovic under the lights, the rain was falling relentlessly, forcing it to be postponed until tomorrow, but not before Edmund paid tribute to the British fans who stayed after the second rain delay, when a lot of the Serbian fans left.
“They’re great and always have been to us, coming out here both at home and travelling support shows how passionate they are for Davis Cup, how passionate they are for British tennis.
“I’m not surprised but saying that it’s great that we do have that kind of support. And it is great it’s like 9 o’clock at night, it’s raining, it’s not very nice and it’s a bit cold and the fact that they’re there and watching – it’s a great feeling to look up and see that. They deserve credit.
“I mean I guess [the Serbian fans] have homes to go to, for us its hotels. They have a home to go to, so guess ‘It’s raining, come on let’s go home,’ (laughing).”
Ward and Lajovic will take place at 12pm (11am BST) and the doubles will take place at 4pm (3pm BST).
|Follow Britwatch - Sport in General, Brits in Particular!|
|Subscribe to Britwatch Sports|