KRALJEVO, Serbia (AP) — Viktor Troicki rallied to beat Borna Coric 4-6, 1-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 Friday to give Serbia a 2-0 lead against Croatia in the first round of the Davis Cup.
Earlier, Novak Djokovic gave Serbia a 1-0 lead by defeating Mate Delic 6-3, 6-2, 6-4. The top-ranked Serb converted early break points in each set on an indoor hard court.
Serbia can clinch the best-of-five series on Saturday in doubles, when Troicki and Nenad Zimonjic face Marin Draganja and Franko Skugor.
The 18-year-old Coric is Croatia’s No. 1 player this weekend as U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic is out injured and controlled the first two sets against Troicki. But his game fell apart after apparent problems with cramps.
“In the first two sets, I did not have an answer for his play,” Troicki said. “I knew that experience is on my side and gradually I managed to catch the rhythm and impose my game.”
Troicki has returned to play for Serbia after serving a one-year doping suspension.
It is the second meeting between Serbia and Croatia since the bloody breakup of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s. In 2010, Djokovic led Serbia to a quarterfinal victory in Split en route to its first and only title. Croatia won the Davis Cup in 2005.
Tensions between the two former Yugoslav republics are still high and the Croatian players were surprised by the warm welcome they received in the small Serbian town of Kraljevo.
“Thanks to the spectators, we are pleasantly surprised,” Delic said. “We even received applause after our national anthem.”
Djokovic also was pleased.
“Because the wounds of war are still fresh, that’s something that you don’t see very often,” he said.