Dusan Lajovic has played just about the perfect tiebreaker to get Serbia off to a dream start in their ATP Cup semi-final against Russia, completing an outstanding performance to beat Karen Khachanov in straight sets.
Lajovic was the better player throughout but it took until the second set tiebreaker to get the full reward for his dominance, blitzing his opponent 7-1 to seal a 7-5 7-6 victory.
While Lajovic was in control throughout, Khachanov was frustrated and occasionally erratic as he watched a big opportunity to get a crucial point for Russia slip away.
Khachanov destroys racquet
Having battled hard to push Lajovic within one game of a tiebreaker in the first set, Khachanov pounded his racquet into a lump of bent titanium when he was broken to lose it 7-5.
Then, when the momentum seemed briefly to be swinging his way in the second set, the Russian was bizarrely distracted by a handbag sitting on a chair in the front row of the crowd.
With Lajovic serving at 4-4 and 15/30 Khachanov paused the action for at least a minute to demand that the owner of the handbag take it off the empty seat beside her and put it out of view.
That distraction perhaps cost him a break in serve as Lajovic steadied to push ahead to 5-4, before re-establishing control once the set reached a tiebreaker.
Lajovic’s win put Serbia firmly in the box seat to be the first team into the final, with world number two Novak Djokovic facing Daniil Medvedev in the second match of the tie.