Serbia's Djokovic levels Davis Cup final against France
Djokovic was always in control in his singles rubber against Simon
Novak Djokovic brought Serbia level with France at 1-1 after day one of the Davis Cup final thanks to a straight-sets win over Gilles Simon in Belgrade.
World number three Djokovic thrilled the majority of the 16,000 fans with a 6-3 6-1 7-5 win, after Gael Monfils had beaten Janko Tipsarevic 7-6 (7-4) 6-0.
Viktor Troicki will partner Nenad Zimonjic against Michael Llodra and Arnaud Clement in Sunday's doubles.
Serbia are attempting to win the Davis Cup for the first time.
Should they defeat nine-time champions France, team captain Bogdan Obradovic has suggested it would be the biggest achievement in his nation's sporting history.
I was nervous and it's not surprising the crowd never really got going because I gave them very little to cheer about
Obradovic chose Tipsarevic, the world number 49, as Serbia's second singles player over the higher-ranked Troicki (30) and it looked to be a poor decision as Monfils raced through the first set of the opening singles rubber.
The second set was a far tighter affair and it was Tipsarevic who had the better chances, but a nervous drop volley into the net with the court gaping at 3-3 saw a second break point disappear and a tie-break was required.
A furious argument ensued between Tipsarevic and the umpire after Monfils was given the opening point following a Hawkeye challenge on a serve, despite the Serb looking well placed to have made a return.
Monfils then took control of the tie-break with a backhand volley and a fizzing backhand pass before Tipsarevic went long to hand over the set, and a double-fault at the start of the third saw the Serb drop serve for the fourth time in the match.
It was now the large French contingent in the arena that was making all the noise as their man powered through the third set to wrap up an impressive win in two hours and five minutes.
Because Llodra is playing doubles they don't want him to play three matches in three days, so they play Simon against Djokovic and hopefully tire out the Djoker a bit
Asked afterwards if he expected to play in Sunday's reverse singles, Tipsarevic admitted: "Honestly, I don't know whether I should play and what to expect, it's up to the team captain.
"I had never before started the match with a pair of double faults. I was nervous and it's not surprising the crowd never really got going because I gave them very little to cheer about."
Monfils said: "I'm really happy with the result. Janko started off with two double faults, and straight away I saw that he was tense. That helped me to relax a little."
The pressure was now on world number three Djokovic to deliver for the home side and he did so in style.
Simon has slipped from a high of sixth in the world last year to 42nd after a series of injuries and went into the match having lost his last five encounters with the former Australian Open champion.
The early signs were that this would be a tighter match, but after Djokovic converted his fourth break point in a lengthy game seven there was only going to be one winner.
Serving superbly, he appeared to be strolling to the finish line until nerves finally took hold as he served for victory, with two match points going begging before Simon broke back to make it 5-5.
There was tension on both sides of the net, however, and the Frenchman handed the advantage straight back to Djokovic with a loose game before the grateful Serb grabbed his second opportunity to close it out after two hours and 15 minutes.
Saturday (1400 GMT):
Nenad Zimonjic & Viktor Troicki (Ser) v Arnaud Clement & Michael Llodra (Fra)
Sunday (1200 GMT):
Novak Djokovic (Ser) v Gael Monfils (Fra)
Janko Tipsarevic (Ser) v Gilles Simon (Fra)
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