Serbia secured their place in the final of the inaugural ATP Cup thanks to the wins achieved by their two singles players in the three-rubber semi-final tie against rivals Russia during the day session at Sydney.
"He's tough to break from the baseline and this was the toughest challenge I've had (this year) Novak Djokovic
They now await the result of the second semi between Spain and hosts Australia, scheduled for the night session, in the knowledge that whichever team gets through, they will have a tough title decider.
However, the Serbians have thrown down the gauntlet and will themselves be tough to beat with Novak Djokovic, the world number two, at his battling best when he defeated Daniil Medvedev, last year’s in-form player to whom he has lost their last two meetings.
The scene was first set by Dusan Lajovic, playing well above his level of 34 in the rankings, who outlasted Karen Khachanov over two long sets.
Lajovic’s 7-5 7-6(1) victory ground out over one hour and 48 -minutes, set the ball rolling and Djokovic was soon into his stride against the fifth ranked Medvedev as he strolled into a one set lead, dropping just one game in 31-minutes.
But then he lost his focus and was incensed when Medvedev surged to a 4-1 lead, and, on dropping a point in the fifth game of the set, Djokovic let rip, smashing his racket three times on the court to completely destroy the frame.
Having received the mandatory warning for racket abuse, the third set produced long, high-quality rallies with Djokovic getting the crucial break in the fifth game, converting a volley to go 3-2 in front.
Medvedev attempted to respond but after two-hours and 47-minutes, was forced to concede the rubber 6-1 5-7 6-4 and the tie with the doubles still to be decided.
Djokovic did have to fend off three break points in that final game to prevailed on his second match point.
“It was very exhausting,” a mightily relieved Djokovic said after his victory.
“It was a big battle all the way to the last shot. Daniil Medvedev is one of the best players in the world and today he showed why.
“He’s tough to break from the baseline and this was the toughest challenge I’ve had (this year).”
Strong Serbian support was evident and they were in full voice throughout the singles with Lajovic acknowledging their input in what was an important first rubber.
“It was definitely one of the toughest matches for me in my career, concerning the situation, the tension and the importance of the moment,” he said. “But the crowd carried me and my team was behind me.”
Serbia made it a clean 3-0 sweep when Nikola Cacic and Viktor Troicki beat Teymuraz Gabashvili and Kontstantin Kravchuk 6-4 7-6(7).