BELGRADE, Serbia – Defending champion Serbia avoided elimination from the Davis Cup semifinals by beating Argentina in straight sets in Saturday's doubles. Now the team is hoping Novak Djokovic can lead a comeback in the best-of-five series.
Nenad Zimonjic and Viktor Troicki defeated Juan Ignacio Chela and Juan Monaco 7-6 (4), 6-4, 6-2 to cut Argentina's lead to 2-1 ahead of the reverse singles on Sunday. That's when the top-ranked Djokovic is expected to play Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro in the first match.
Djokovic pulled out of the opening singles Friday against David Nalbandian because of back pain, four days after beating Rafael Nadal in the U.S Open final. He was replaced by Troicki, who lost 6-4, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.
Djokovic was seen warming up for a training session at Belgrade Arena after Serbia's doubles victory.
"We're back in play," Zimonjic said. "Hope Djokovic will be able to play."
In the second reverse singles Sunday, U.S. Open quarterfinalist Janko Tipsarevic is expected to face Nalbandian. Tipsarevic was beaten by Del Potro in the other opening singles on Friday.
Djokovic led Serbia to its first Davis Cup title last year after beating France 3-2 in the final. Serbia has never won after trailing 2-0.
Argentina needs one more point to reach its first final since 2008.
Serbia entered the semifinals with a seven-match Davis Cup winning streak. The last team to beat Serbia in a home series was Belgium in 2005, which also was the last time Djokovic lost a singles match at home.
Argentina is looking to win its first Davis Cup semifinal away from home. Since the formation of the World Group in 1981, Argentina has made nine semifinal appearances, losing all six while playing away.
In the other semifinal, France also won the doubles to trail Spain 2-1.