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By Lauren Lynch
© Davis Cup Twitpic

(December 3, 2010) A Belgrade swimming pool converted into a tennis court was the training ground for Serbian stars including Janko Tipsarevic and Ana Ivanovic and this weekend Serbia is aiming to make a historic splash in Belgrade. Tipsarevic struggled immensely his first match losing 6-1, 7-6, 6-0.

Serbia is bidding for its first Davis Cup championship in this week’s final against France, which is seeking its 10th Davis Cup championship.

Before a raucous crowd of nearly 18,000 fans, Gael Monfils outplayed Janko Tipsarevic in the opening match of the best-of-5 match final. Tipsarevic's game was full of errors and despite having two break points he could not follow through. Monfils kept his emotions checked and played to even out Tipsarevic's previous winning record against him to 3-3.

"I was very, very nervous before the match and I think I show a great sign for me like I can be very tough mentally, play my game," Monfils proudly said post match win.

Serbian No. 1 Novak Djokovic takes on Gilles Simon in the second singles match as French captain Guy Forget opted to start Simon instead of Michael Llodra, who beat Djokovic last month in the Paris Masters quarterfinals. He will need to win this match to ensure that the Serbian team is safe and go on tomorrow with one rubber win.

Monfils fired the first shot after the draw ceremony saying Tipsarevic would feel the pressure of trying to perform in front of his home crowd hungry for history.

"I think he will be very nervous coming out first in front of the Serbian crowd," Monfils said almost prophesying Tipsarevic's defeat.

The 49th-ranked Tipsy, who upset Andy Roddick at the US Open before bowing to Monfils and later clinched Serbia’s Davis Cup semifinal victory, started confident wasn’t buying into the peer pressure card.

"If Gael thinks I'm going to be more nervous than him in front of 18,000 Serbs he better think again," said Tipsarevic. “Of course we are both under pressure and he is no doubt a very good Davis Cup player but I honestly don't think he can be completely relaxed in front of a passionate home crowd.”

Saturday’s doubles match pits Llodra and Arnaud Clement, former Wimbledon winners, against Nenad Zimonjic and Viktor Troicki.

In Sunday’s reverse singles, Djokovic meets his long-time junior rival Monfils, while Tipsarevic is scheduled to play Simon though Llodra is an option for the fifth and decisive singles match.

“Regardless of who I play, I have to be on top of my game. It’s the finals of Davis Cup,” Djokovic said. “Everybody will try to perform their best and everybody will have a lot of motivation to play great tennis in these three days.”


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