By Ros Satar, in Belgrade
- Kyle Edmund def. Dusan Lajovic 6-3 6-4 7-6(5)
- Great Britain win the tie 3-1
- They will face Argentina at home 16-18 September
BELGRADE, SERBIA – Kyle Edmund stepped up to the plate as the British No. 1 player, winning both his singles rubbers in straight sets to secure Britain’s place in the Davis Cup semi-final.
Edmund the Great!
Once more the weather decided to be the third player in this tie, as a persistently flimsy drizzle came down – not heavy enough to halt play but certainly enough to make the conditions extremely challenging.
The Brit was making more of his chances putting Lajovic under pressure, before finally converting in the next Serbian service game for a 4-2 lead. It was enough to keep the edge ahead to wrap up the first set as the conditions gradually worsened.
The Drina marching song made an reappearance in a bid to gee Lajovic up at the start of the second set but the Edmund forehand that he had feared was winding up well.
Again it was Edmund putting the pressure on – bringing up two more break points but despite protests at the crowd calling out during the point, no action was taken, with Lajovic scrambling to a lengthy hold.
It might just have been enough to fire up Lajovic, who got his first sniff of a break point on the Edmund serve, and with both players having to take huge swipes out of the ball, Edmund fought off the attack.
If the partisan crowd had thought they had got to Edmund in that last game they could not have been more wrong, as he patiently constructed his points, snaring a break to go up 4-3.
Unable to take advantage of two break/set points, Edmund confidently served out the second set – keeping his composure well at the partisan crowd. However – this would be new territory for the Brit to get GB over the finish line in straight sets.
Edmund piled on the pressure again, finally breaking through on his third try in the game for a 4-3 lead – a pattern which sounded familiar.
With a chance to serve the tie out, Edmund tightened quite considerably, allowing Lajovic crucially his first break of the match so far to level at 5-5.
Nerves hit the Serbian as he failed to break twice for the set, forcing a tie-break. But he started the better, getting a mini-break and looking more secure by the minute.
All it took was a couple of wayward shots hooked wide, and Edmund was on his knees – a second straight sets win at the Davis Cup, and a place in the semi-finals to face Argentina with an Andy Murray-less team.
Talking of the man – he was again court-side, and was right in the thick of the celebrations – surely the future of British tennis once Murray is done winning Slams and the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award is in good hands?
This was a very important tie – not just for the defence of the title, but also for Edmund to know that he had the capability to turn in a result like that. Having had David Goffin on the ropes in the Davis Cup final, before physically running out of stamina.
Admittedly Janko Tipsarevic had been out of sorts during his first singles rubber, but Lajovic had impressed with his versatility on the cut-up court and this so easily could have gone to at least four sets.
Edmund proved he was a big-occasion player, but more importantly the team proved they could go on and win without talisman Murray on the court.
Lajovic admitted he had been outplayed, saying: “He was definitely a better player especially in the first two sets. In the third I started playing better and I had some chances. I feel a little bit disappointed that I didn’t use them.
“He hit some big forehands in the tie-break when I was leading so I could just say congrats to him because I think that end of the third set we both played pretty high level, and it went on his side.”
Edmund could cap off a weekend with two straight sets wins and said:
“It’s always a team effort, just so happy that I won today, won for the team, Friday was my first win for the country and that was a nice milestone but now today, knowing what was on the line – coming here and knowing if I win we are through to the semi-finals.
“You just basically focus on the process but at the back of your mind you know what is at stake so I’m just happy that I managed to pull it out. At the end it was emotional and getting very physical, it was tough, there were no easy points so at the end it’s just a great feeling to win for the country.”
Great Britain now will host a home tie against Argentina who beat Italy also by a margin to 3-1, from 16-18 September.
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