Defending champions Serbia marched into the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas quarterfinals on Sunday after Viktor Troicki beat Somdev Devvarman in the opening reverse singles 64 62 75 to give the 2010 winners of the competition a 3-1 lead against India.
The Serbs, who became the 13th nation to win the 111-year old event when they beat France 3-2 in last December’s final in Belgrade, will play against Sweden way for a berth in the last four, after the Scandinavians romped to an unassailable 3-0 lead against Russia on Saturday.
World no. 18 Troicki traded breaks with Devvarman in the opening exchanges and games went with serve, amidst a plethora of long rallies, before the Serb broke his opponent again in the ninth game and then took the first set in 52 minutes with a pair of aces.
Devvarman, who committed a staggering 66 unforced errors through the match and many of them at key moments, appeared to lose his focus in the second set, while Troicki turned on the heat with some delicate drop shots and winners to race into a 4-1 lead after breaking serve twice.
He held serve with some ease to take the second set but falling behind seemed to have spurred on Devvarman, who carved out a break in the fourth game of the third set to take a 3-1 lead with a superb crosscourt backhand.
Troicki, however, broke straight back and tension reached boiling point in the sixth game, when a line call went the Serb’s way and allowed him to pull back to 3-3. An incensed Devvarman argued with the chair umpire for about five minutes before he returned to save two break points in the ninth game and give himself a fighting chance of staying in the match.
But Troicki, who rifled in 11 aces and 40 winners, held his next serve comfortably and then earned a triple break point with a flurry of impressive passing shots, letting out a roar of delight as he prepared to serve for the match.
Cheered on by the partisan home crowd, who were sporting a dozen or so Serbian flags and created deafening noise with inflatable batons, the 25-year old Belgrader sent the fans into an eruption of joy when he saved two break points in the final game and sealed his victory in two hours 43 minutes with a service winner.
“It is a great feeling to be in the last eight of the competition because this means we have stayed in the World Group, while it also gives us a chance to carry on with out title defence,” Troicki said.
“I was able to raise my game after struggling against Rohan Bopanna on Friday, my focus was sharper because I expected a long and tough match against Devvarman, who is a very good player,” he told reporters.
“The break in the third set when he sat down came after the chair umpire overruled her own call. That happens very rarely and the Indian team didn’t take it too well but it’s all a part of the game and I don’t think it affected the outcome of the match.
"We are through to the quarterfinals, we know it’s going to be very tough against Sweden and we hope to have our best player Novak Djokovic back for that tie.”
Janko Tipsarevic defeated Karan Rastogi 60 61 in the second reverse singles later on Sunday, a dead rubber after the Serbs celebrated their victory on the court, sporting a giant national flag and dancing to the tunes of an ancient national battlesong blaring from the sound system.