Photo: DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP/Getty Images via Daylife
Wow, weird things happen during Davis Cup. Like the underestimated Arnaud Clement, 32 years old and playing in his first Davis Cup final, emerging as Saturday’s DC Finals hero. He rallied partner Michael Llodra to come back from a two sets to none deficit vs. home team Nenad Zimonjic and Viktor Troicki in the crucial third rubber in Belgrade. The match lasted over four and a half hours and featured a brilliant performance from the bandanna-ed Frenchman. The French won the match: 3-6, 6-7 (3), 6-4, 7-5, 6-4.
French captain Guy Forget credited the Clement/Llodra chemistry for the win (via tennis.com):
“At times Michael has been like the head guy, and Arnaud was like in the footsteps. Other times it’s the other way around,” Forget said. “A doubles team is like a couple. You go through storms together, but eventually you’re very proud that your relation goes for a long time and you’re able to achieve wonderful things. I think today was wonderful doubles for both of them in a lot of different ways.”
A four and a half hour doubles match that really mattered. Only in Davis Cup, the sport’s last bastion for uncompromising, warrior purity. Please don’t change a thing.
Look at ol’ Arnaud letting Llodra take all the credit:
Photo: ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images via Daylife
Novak Djokovic will be repeating Billie Jean King’s “Pressure is a privilege” mantra right about now, as he must beat Gael Monfils on Sunday if he wants to keep his team alive. And then there’s the mysterious and likely decisive fifth rubber, where the flagging Gilles Simon is Janko Tipsarevic’s assumed opponent, on paper. . .
“I have three choices now,” joked Guy Forget after the doubles, referencing the fifth rubber. Until today, Michael Llodra was the assumed substitute. But why not Clement?
Speaking of Davis Cup heroes, here’s a shot of Marat Safin in Belgrad, where he’s commentating for Davis Cup Radio (Marat on radio? What a waste of a face!). Via daviscup.com:
According to the DC blog, Safin’s nemesis, Fabrice Santoro, was also in the Belgrade arena on Saturday, and the Frenchman took the opportunity to remind Safin of he and Nicolas Escude’s five set win over Safin/Kafelnikov in the 2002 Davis Cup final. (Russian won, anyway.) Safin and Santoro simply must team up for some seniors circuit doubles – talk about some special chemistry!
Enjoy Sunday’s matches!