Garin outlasts Lajovic, sends Chile-Serbia to doubles decider


Sydney, Jan 3 : Cristian Garin came through a battle of attrition on Monday to send Chile's Group A tie against 2020 champion Serbia to a doubles decider at the ATP Cup. Garin was leading 6-4, 4-6, 3-0 against Dusan Lajovic, when the Serbian retired after two hours and 14 minutes. There had been 23 break points and seven breaks of serve in the first set alone. In the No. 2 singles match to begin the tie, Filip Krajinovic had his own hard-fought 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(5) victory over Alejandro Tabilo of Chile. "We played an amazing match and I feel sorry for Dusan," said Garin, after his first ATP Cup singles win. "It was so tough. I was going point-by-point in the second set and I'm so grateful to the Chilean support in the crowd." Chile's Tomas Barrios Vera and Alejandro Tabilo will now face Nikola Cacic and Matej Sabanov of Serbia in the tie-deciding match. Lajovic appeared to be building up a head of steam in the first set by winning three straight games for a 4-2 lead that, incredibly, was the start of five straight service breaks. Ultimately, Lajovic's greater hard-court proficiency won through in a tough 60-minute set that ended with the 31-year-old hitting a forehand cross-court approach winner. The second set, in contrast, was settled and largely serve-dominated. Garin did save two break points in a lengthy hold in the second game, but that was the only drama through to 4-4 when Lajovic tightened up out of the blue and gifted Garin the break. With Lajovic starting to cramp, Garin calmly closed out for a decider. Nine years ago in their only ATP head to head meeting, Garin had beaten Lajovic 6-3, 6-4 for the first ATP Tour match of his career at 2013 Vina del Mar. Krajinovic drew on his experience to beat Tabilo, currently No. 139 in the ATP Rankings, over two hours and 26 minutes in the Qudos Bank Arena. "I was controlling the match up a set and a break, then he began to play better and made some unbelievable passing shots," said Krajinovic. "I got tight, which is normal when you play for your country. At the end, he came up with some big serves and I'm very proud to have won. It means a lot to start the year well." Krajinovic broke through at 3-3 in the first set, when good scrambling resulted in a low backhand winner. The World No. 42 won 14 of 17 points at the net. When his best shots came back, Tabilo went for more power and it cost him in the first game of the second set. But credit to the 24-year-old, he kept fighting and won five straight games - breaking serve courtesy of Krajinovic's ground stroke errors at 1-2 and 2-3. Tabilo went onto convert his third set point with a forehand winner, his 22nd winner of the 41-minute set. The decider was full of momentum swings, at first for World No. 139 Tabilo with an early service break and then Krajinovic, who opened up a 3-1 advantage. Tabilo recovered and forced Krajinovic to save a break point with a forehand winner at 5-5. When it came to the crunch though in the tie-break, Krajinovic did just enough to complete victory in two hours and 26 minutes. Krajinovic beat Norway's Viktor Durasovic on his ATP Cup singles debut on Saturday and later partnered Nikola Cacic to doubles victory. Chile lost to Spain in its first group match in Sydney. /IANS


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