Switzerland overcome Serbia; Spain no match for

Switzerland carved out an unassailable 3-0 lead over Serbia in their Davis Cup World Group first-round tie in Novi Sad after Marco Chiudinelli and Michael Lammer beat Nenad Zimonjic and Filip Krajinovic 7-6 (7-3), 3-6, 7-6 (7-2), 6-2 in Saturday’s doubles.

The Swiss will move on to play either Belgium or Kazakhstan in the last eight while 2010 winners and last season’s runners-up Serbia have dropped into the World Group playoffs.

The Serbs, who had hoped to get back into the tie after losing both opening singles on Friday, will rue the opportunities they missed to swing the knife-edged contest their way as they squandered several vital break points when they could have gained the upper hand.

The visitors, in contrast, took their chances with some aplomb to turn Sunday’s reverse singles into dead rubbers.

Zimonjic and Davis Cup debutant Krajinovic, who enjoyed a fine afternoon, wasted three break points in the third game of the opening set but still looked the more likely pair to nose ahead after grinding out a 3-1 lead in the tie-break.

Chiudinelli and Lammer, watched by Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka from the Swiss bench, turned it on its head and silenced the home fans by winning the next six points.

Serbia finally broke Lammer’s serve in the second set and drew level after Krajinovic’s fine volleys and passing shots complemented Zimonjic’s vast all-round experience.

Games went with serve smoothly in a finely balanced third set until the hosts engineered a double break point on Lammer’s serve in the 11th game, but the 31-year old journeyman ranked 1008th in the doubles and 441st in the singles on the men’s ATP Tour once again held firm.

There was to be no comeback of any sort in the ensuing tie-break as the visitors raced into a 5-0 lead and had their vociferous fans, some of whom donned cowbells and traditional Swiss kits, in raptures sensing victory.

Switzerland thus took full advantage of Serbia having to field a second-string side missing their top three players. 

At Frankfurt, Spain suffered first round despair for the second year running after Tommy Haas and Philipp Kohlschreiber won a nerve-shredding doubles rubber to give hosts Germany an unassailable 3-0 lead. World Tour Finals champions Fernando Verdasco and partner David Marrero fought desperately to keep five-time champions Spain alive after the loss of both Friday’s singles matches but they were eventually subdued as the German duo won a thriller 7-6, 6-7, 7-6, 6-3 in the noisy Fraport Arena.

Results (round I, prefix denotes seeding): 1-Czech Republic: 1 lead Netherlands: 1; Japan: 2 lead 7-Canada: 1; Germany: 3 bt 3-Spain: 0; 5-France: 3 bt Australia: 0; Britain: 2 lead 6-US: 0; 4-Argentina: 1 level with Italy: 1; 8-Kazakhstan: 2 lead Belgium: 1; Switzerland: 3 bt 2-Serbia: 0.

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