“Serbia passes through Arc de Triomphe” – this was just one of the many exuberant headlines in Serbian press after the men’s national tennis team won their first Davis Cup title after narrowly beating France 3-2. Novak Djoković, Viktor Troicki, Nenad Zimonjić and Janko Tipsarević, led by the Serbian team captain Bogdan Obradović and the tennis legend Niki Pilić triumphed in Belgrade on 5 December 2010.
This achievement will rank alongside Serbia's previous best global performances of the Olympic volleyball gold medal in 2000 and the 2001 European basketball title. The last country to fall before the advance of the Serbian team was France, a country with a much longer tradition in tennis and nine-time winner of the Davis Cup's famous Salad Bowl or “Le Saladier” as the French call it. After Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra beat Nenad Zimonjić and Viktor Troicki in the doubles rubber, the French team were in the lead by 2-1, but that did not help.
In an impeccable performance, the world number three Novak Djoković beat Gael Monfils in straight sets, 6-2, 6-2, 6-4 thus bringing Serbia level with France. The hero of the day was Troicki who scored the deciding point by winning the match against Llodra, again in straight sets, 6-2, 6-2, 6-3.
“This is the most wonderful moment of my life. I dreamt of this moment as a boy. But, I am not a hero. This is a team victory and we all take the credit…Our greatest advantage is that we are very close. I have no closer friends. We are like brothers”, said the 24-year-old Troicki, with his head shaved, like all the players in his team, thus honouring a promise which had been made after the team’s victory over the Czech Republic.
The head shaving was done at the court itself, before the trophies were awarded. Janko Tipsarević, hero of the semi-finals against the Czech Republic, who lost the match against Monfils with 1-6, 6-7, 0-6, announced even more radical steps for the next Davis Cup.
“Next year, if we get to finals, we will get a tattoo or a piercing”, said Tipsarević laughing.