Europe showing the way in this year’s Davis Cup. Disappointingly the balance of power has long shifted from USA and Australia with the retirements of Roddick, Sampras , McEnroe , Agassi, the Woddies and Rafter. Serbia has emerged as one of the main contenders in this year’s Davis Cup on the back of some HERCULEAN victories by none other than world number one Djokovic. He produced one such effort in this tie with Kazakhstan in which he was scheduled to play in the doubles as well as singles. Kazakhstan led by Alexander Bublik led the way in Group B which included Sweden and Canada. They won the opening rubber when Kukushkin won against Krecmanovic. Bublik is a seasoned player on Tour despite his 24 years of age. In his arsenal is a strong first serve in line with his big frame as well as some good ground strokes. He found the going tough against a returner and a defender in the mold of the 20 times Grand Slam champion. Check out 2-1(30-15) Serbia. The forehand retrieval by Novak in the middle of the rally set the tone for the break of serve gained , Bublik unlucky with the net cord though. Novak makes you second guess yourself as long as the rally drags on. Both players employing the kick serve with a tinge of slice but Novak mixing it up more to test the Kazakhstani. Watch 4-2(15-0) the element of surprise. In no time Djokovic was a set up at 6-3.
You know , it is surprising thing about players who have a great serve is that they seldom use it to. It is like they sabotage themselves somewhat. Bublik is one such player. Watch first game second set at 40-30 Kazakhstan. Inch perfect serve. He prefers to grind it out in rallies but if he did this more often he would be high up on the rankings. The point of the match 1-0 second set 30-30. Novak let Bublik off the hook with that tame forehand volley which could have been better executed but great net coverage by Bublik. Novak would hold on to his serve in this match but only just. Then a crazy service game by Bublik with some shocking errors swung the set in favor of the Serbs. Check out the second serve at 1-1(40-30). If you are learning to serve that is how not to, look away. Feet not set properly leaning too far back. Just no. That break was enough as Serbia drew level at 1-1 in the tie. Djokovic and Nikola Cacic teamed up to beat Andrey Golubev and Aleksandr Nedovyesov in the doubles in three sets to book a semi final date with Croatia(should be an interesting all Balkan clash). Novak has not lost a Davis Cup singles match in 10 years. He deserves credit for showing up when other pro players would think about resting for 2022.