Djokovic delivers for success-hungry Serbia

BELGRADE, Sep 24 (Reuters) Serbia's tennis prodigy Novak Djokovic described their Davis Cup 4-1 win over Australia as an incisive team effort after playing a key role in the outcome that cast contrasting fortunes on the two sides.

While the result sent Serbia through to the world group for the first time, it also relegated the winners of 28 Davis Cup titles to the Asia-Oceania qualifying zone for the first time since 1996.

''I want to make it clear in no uncertain terms this was a team win and not one of my own making only,'' Djokovic said after three effervescent performances that made the final singles match on Sunday a dead rubber.

''We've waited for this for 20 years and I am still stunned by what we have achieved. Of course we would like to go on and win the title next year but that is a very long road,'' the 20-year old world number three said.

Djokovic beat Paul Luczak and Chris Guccione, who stood in for the ailing Lleyton Hewitt, without dropping a set and did so either side of leading a rampant doubles comeback that swung the tie Serbia's way.

Djokovic and Nenad Zimonjic came from a set and two games down to brush aside Hewitt and Paul Hanley and give the Serbs a 2-1 lead, presenting Djokovic with the opportunity he clinically executed against Guccione after fighting off fatigue.

BEST SHOTS ''Anyone who might have thought the match against Guccione would be a formality knows nothing about tennis because I had to work very hard to beat him,'' Djokovic said.

''I was expecting Hewitt, bracing myself for an exhausting match and preparing a different strategy but Guccione is an awkward opponent on any surface.'' Djokovic fired his best shots, including the final five points of the match, when he needed them most in a 6-3 7-6 7-6 win over the world number 94 and praised 20,000 raucous home fans for their contribution.

''This is the best crowd I have ever seen and we played our hearts out for them,'' he said.

With a popular drum band leading the way, the fans turned the Belgrade Arena into a cauldron Djokovic galvanised every time he clenched a fist in the air to celebrate game-winning shots or an ace.

''The atmosphere was fantastic and gave us the extra bit of strength to keep going when the going got tough,'' he said.


Story first published: Monday, September 24, 2007, 15:37 [IST]
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