Djokovic defeat leaves Serbia tie in balance

Novak Djokovic's first outing since he won the Wimbledon crown ended in disappointment when he and Nenad...

Serbian player Novak Djokovic. Picture: AFP

Novak Djokovic's first outing since he won the Wimbledon crown ended in disappointment when he and Nenad Zimonjic failed to earn Davis Cup champions Serbia the winning point in their quarter-final tie against Sweden on Saturday.

Six days after conquering the All England Club, world number one Djokovic would have fancied his chances of wrapping up the tie for Serbia as his team mates had won both of the opening singles.

However, Djokovic, who sat out Friday's action with a knee complaint, and Zimonjic stumbled to a 6-4 7-6 7-5 defeat by Simon Aspelin and Robert Lindstedt in Halmstad.

"It is incredible, the kind of match you dream of winning. We met one of the world's best doubles players and the world's best singles player, and I would suggest it is our best match," Lindstedt told Swedish media.

However, he added: "This is not the environment that he (Djokovic) is used to. If I played him in singles I would struggle to get games, but we are very happy to have played this well today and beat such a strong team."

Serbia will now hope Djokovic will be back in action on Sunday as they need to win one of the two reverse singles if they are to keep alive their chances of defending their title.

"We are coming into the third day 2-1 up which is the most important thing and tomorrow we will try to end this tie," Djokovic said.

In Stuttgart, France secured their passage into the last four when Michael Llodra and Jo Wilfried Tsonga eased past Germany's Christopher Kas and Philipp Petzschner 7-6 6-4 6-4 to give the nine-times champions an unbeatable 3-0 lead.

"I knew the tie was going to be close and difficult, even though we've won by Saturday night - all the matches were really tight, and I'm really glad the French players took it so seriously and played with a lot of heart," France captain Guy Forget told reporters.

In the semi-finals, which will take place in September, France will face either Spain or the United States.

After losing both singles matches on Friday, the Americans kept themselves in the tie when twins Bob and Mike Bryan won the doubles, following up their Wimbledon success by beating the Spanish combination of Marcel Granollers and Fernando Verdasco 6-7 6-4 6-4 6-4.

Spain, despite playing without Rafa Nadal, lead 2-1 heading into the reverse singles.

In the only tie to feature two nations who have never won the team event, Argentina have already thumped Kazakhstan 5-0, with Juan Monaco and Juan Ignacio Chela finishing off the whitewash with wins in the reverse singles Saturday.

The tie in Buenos Aires was being held from Thursday to Saturday due to municipal elections in Argentina on Sunday.