Gael Monfils gave France the early advantage in their Davis Cup final against Serbia in Belgrade yesterday afternoon with a commanding victory over an erratic Janko Tipsarevic in the opening rubber.
The Frenchman, ranked 12th in the world, 37 places above his opponent, claimed a 6-1 7-6 (7/4) 6-0 success in two hours and five minutes. Monfils dominated on serve, saving the only two break points he faced while converting six of his own, as he proved far too powerful for the Serbian.
After a nightmare first set in which the occasion seemed to get to him, Tipsarevic seemed to have found his form in the second but, having lost it on a tie-break, capitulated in the third to give Monfils the simplest of tasks to close out the match.
Tipsarevic looked nervous from the outset, two double-faults in the first two points of the match giving Monfils an immediate break. The Frenchman held his serve with ease to consolidate the break before Tipsarevic got on the board. Monfils was picking the Serbian off comfortably, hitting a booming cross-court winner on the way to moving 3-1 up and then two expert passing shots to break for a second time.
The 24-year-old held for 5-1 and broke again to take the set.
Tipsarevic ended a run of five straight Monfils games by holding to make it 1-1 in the second set and held to love to make it 2-2.
The Frenchman’s tennis was not suffering, though, and, having saved a break point when Tipsarevic netted with a drop volley at the net, produced a glorious drop shot of his own to go 4-3 in front.
The Serbian took the set into a tie-break, but lost his cool early on with the umpire after he was ordered to take a second serve rather than replay the point following an incorrect line call and Monfils went on to take the set.
Tipsarevic was rattled and Monfils broke at the third time of asking in the opening game of the third set before firing down three successive aces to go 2-0 up.
Another break and hold put the Frenchman 4-0 in front and all but home and dry and, with his opponent's focus gone, he duly clinched the next two games to finish the match in style.