Djokovic injury hands Argentina final berth


Argentina beat champions Serbia 3-2 to advance to the Davis Cup final after US Open champion winner Novak Djokovic retired injured in the second set of his match against Juan Martin Del Potro on Sunday. Del Potro was leading the world number one 7-6 (7/5), 3-0 before Djokovic, visibly struggling to stay in the match with back pain, was forced to concede the rubber.
In the ‘dead’ rubber, Juan Monaco, who replaced David Nalbandian, retired after the first set against Janko Tipsarevic, which the Serbian player had won with 6-2. Djokovic, who missed the opening day’s play with a back injury, replaced Viktor Troicki in Sunday’s line-up as captain Bogdan Obradovic tried to get the defending champions back into the tie in which they trailed 2-1 overnight. “Of course I am very disappointed that the match ended this way. I tried, but it did not work, I was not even 60 percent ready, but we have accepted that risk although we knew that my injury could worsen,” said Djokovic, who had needed treatment on his back during his US Open final win over Rafael Nadal on Monday.
He said the decision for him to play “was mutual, but I have taken the responsibility.” “I thought I had higher chances to ward off Del Potro who had played more than well on Friday,” Djokovic said. He said he had felt pain early in the first set, adding that “further analysis and medical tests are expected to see how serious the injury is.”
“I am not angry, just sad and disappointed, as I really believed I could endure the match and win it, but against a player who pulled in 80 percent of his first serve, that was impossible,” Djokovic said.
Obradovic told reporters that Djokovic had pulled a rib muscle, but further tests would be done in the coming days. “I congratulate Djokovic on his wish to come out and play…we have a good and compact team,” Obradovic said. In Djokovic’s absence Serbia had slumped 2-0 on Friday before Troicki and Nenad Zimonjic defeated Juan Ignacio Chela and Monaco 7-6 (7/4), 6-4, 6-2 on Saturday to keep the hosts bid alive. Both Djokovic and Del Potro started confidently, holding their serve with the Serb leading in the fifth game for 3-2 but errors allowed his 17th-ranked opponent to level. Djokovic missed a chance to break in the 10th game, as Del Potro eventually forced a tie-break, wrapping up the set after 70 minutes. Djokovic, who returned home immediately after his US Open victory on Monday, was obviously in pain as he regularly stretched his back.
At the start of the second set, the Argentinian broke and led 2-0, but after the first point in the third game Djokovic fell to the ground and was unable to continue. Argentina will travel to Spain for December’s final in a re-run of the 2008 title match which the Spanish won in Mar del Plata
In the fifth rubber, Tipsarevic managed to reach 4-1 in only ten minutes, with two breaks. The world number 13 served eight aces and five service winners, but Monaco decided to retire due to injury. Spain earlier booked their place in the final by beating France 4-1 in Cordoba.