Serbia captain Bogdan Obradovic poured scorn on the line judges and called them “unpatriotic” after France won the doubles on Saturday to take a 2-1 lead in the Davis Cup final.
“We are not asking them to be thieves and give us anything, but some of them were absolutely awful today and they made several bad calls at key moments in the match,” Obradovic told a news conference.
“They were like a dark force out there and their lack of patriotism was astounding. If they feel anything for their country they ought to wait for a customary second at close calls to make the right decision,” he said. “We know them very well and we are completely aware that they are trying to build a career by siding to the [International Tennis Federation]. We won’t stand in their way, but they must remember that they are only here because Serbian tennis has become a force.”
Serbia’s duo of Viktor Troicki and Nenad Zimonjic took a two-set lead, but eventually succumbed to France’s Arnaud Clement and Michael Llodra 3-6, 6-7, 6-4, 7-5, 6-4.
“At times we felt like the line judges were French and we were playing in Paris,” Troicki said.
The enthralling encounter was played in a raucous atmosphere that threatened to boil over in the closing stages of the second set.
With Serbia a set up and leading 6-5 in the second, several hundred French fans screamed for a foot fault on Troicki’s serve and Serbian supporters responded with loud jeers every time the French duo hit the ball after the restart.
Following protestations to the umpire by both sides, Serbia’s No. 2 singles player, Janko Tipsarevic, warned the home crowd that Serbia could be punished with a point or game deduction if the fans carried on.
With the match tied at two sets apiece, some Serbian fans left the Belgrade Arena, and Obradovic lambasted those who “appeared to have bigger priorities at such a crucial time.”
“The fans have to understand that these lads are playing their hearts out for their country, they have sacrificed so much to get Serbia into the Davis Cup final,” he said
“Zimonjic, for example, has missed his child’s birthday today and has played the entire campaign with an injured elbow. Not once has he complained,” he said. “I expect the nation to wake up from the apathy it seems to have fallen into, stop taking us for granted, and we expect a partisan full house tomorrow because it’s still not over.”
Serbia’s Novak Djokovic takes on Gael Monfils in the opening reverse singles rubber today, with Tipsarevic to play Gilles Simon thereafter.