BELGRADE, Sept 15 (Reuters) - Serbia drew level with Canada 2-2 in the Davis Cup semi-final after world number one Novak Djokovic beat 11th-ranked Milos Raonic 7-6(1) 6-2 6-2 in Sunday’s opening singles.
Home favourite Janko Tipsarevic takes on Canada’s Vasek Pospisil in the tie’s final rubber for a berth in the Nov. 15-17 final, where the winners will meet holders Czech Republic.
Djokovic handed the 22-year-old Raonic a claycourt lesson in their first meeting, looking sharp and eager to erase the memory of Monday’s U.S. Open final defeat by Rafael Nadal.
Thriving in the same kind of fervent home support which helped Serbia win the 2010 title when they beat France 3-2 in an epic final at the same venue, Djokovic outclassed his hard-hitting rival after a nervy start.
The players traded breaks in the opening set before Djokovic, who dominated the rallies while Raonic used the slick red clay to good effect on his first serve, raced through the tiebreak to delight the bulk of 15,000 noisy fans in the arena.
The electrifying atmosphere reached fever pitch when Djokovic saved a triple break point to take a 3-1 lead in the second set, pumping his fists in delight as he took the match by the scruff of the neck.
Having tamed Raonic’s serve, the 26-year-old Serb broke again to lead 5-2 and then wrapped up the second set with a searing crosscourt forehand.
Although Raonic was backed by several hundred colourful Canadian fans, he succumbed meekly in the third set as a galvanised Djokovic broke serve straight away and raced through the final act to seal the match in two hours and eight minutes.
Canada are looking to reach the final for the first time, having knocked five-times champions Spain out en route to their first semi-final in 100 years.
Editing by Martyn Herman