CHARLEROI, BELGIUM: Serbia may have clinched the tie yesterday but the 100 per cent effort that Belgium captain Johan van Herck demanded from his players for the dead singles rubbers was provided as David Goffin and Steve Darcis reduced the deficit to 3-2 in the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group first round clash in Charleroi.
The task for Belgium may have been made slightly easier by the absence of Novak Djokovic and Viktor Troicki who were both afforded a day of rest by captain Bogdan Obradovic. The world No. 1 was on a flight home by the time Goffin and Boris Pashanski got underway and Troicki was left out as a precaution after receiving an ultrasound scan on his hamstring last night.
After the disappointment of Friday when he failed to serve out the match against Troicki before going on to lose in five sets, world No. 50 Goffin was made to work hard for his 64 26 62 victory in two hours and 21 minutes over Pashanski, ranked No. 174, who was playing his first Davis Cup match since the World Group play-off against Australia in 2007.
Goffin’s backhand winner down the line on match point was celebrated wildly by the crowd at the Spiroudome who made a remarkable amount of noise for a dead day.
“The tie is finished but I wanted to win this point for the crowd who were amazing today,” said Goffin. “An atmosphere like this on the Sunday when it was 3-0 for Serbia is amazing.”
Former doubles world No. 1 Nenad Zimonjic was hardly enthusiastic when asked yesterday about the possibility of playing a dead rubber but he was forced into action with Troicki rested. For a doubles specialist playing his first singles match since the Belgrade Challenger in September in 2009, the slow indoor clay court here was not the most ideal surface.
The 36-year-old Serb made a decent fist of things but world No. 96 Steve Darcis, who replaced Olivier Rochus, was far too steady, winning 62 64 in one hour and 23 minutes to the delight of his captain who now faces a seven month wait for Belgium’s next match in the World Group play-offs.
“I think it’s important to win these matches,” said van Herck. “I think we owed it to the public to give them good results. Now we have to wait and see and hope we are seeded and try and get back into the World Group.”
Serbia now look forward to their quarterfinal tie in April against the USA or Brazil, a trip to America looking most likely with Jim Courier’s side leading 2-1 going into the final day. It is a trip Obradovic would relish after the top effort by his side to get through the first round with relative ease.
“It was a very well done job,” said Obradovic. “I didn’t expect to finish this job in two days. I want to congratulate my people and the whole team.
“The good thing is we would play USA when all the players are going to be there so they won’t change the time zone which is going to be a little bit better. Still, it will be a tough match for both teams.”
View the statistics from the matches here: Live scores
Steve Darcis (BEL) - 03/02/2013
David Goffin (BEL) - 03/02/2013
Captain Johan van Herck (BEL) - 03/02/2013
Captain Bogdan Obradovic (SRB) - 03/02/2013