BELGRADE, Sep 21 (Reuters) Serbia and Australia were tied at 1-1 in their Davis Cup world group playoff after each team's top player won in contrasting fashion today.
World number three Novak Djokovic put Serbia ahead with a 6-1 6-4 6-2 win over Peter Luczak before former world number one Lleyton Hewitt redressed the balance thanks to a hard-earned 6-2 3-6 4-6 6-1 6-1 win over Janko Tipsarevic.
Hewitt controlled the first set and capped it with an ace but dropped the next two after a series of unforced errors combined with some outstanding play by Tipsarevic, who came out on top in most of the long rallies.
But the 23-year old Serbian lost momentum as the effects of his two-week layoff with a rib cage injury started to bite and Hewitt raced away in the final two sets to put Australia on level terms ahead of tomorrow's doubles.
''I knew I had to win after we went 1-0 down and I think fitness was a key factor here,'' said Hewitt.
''It wasn't easy because Serbia have the home crowd behind them but I've played a lot of tough matches in my career and felt very good out there.
''The doubles will be crucial and my opinion is that it's going to be an extremely close contest that might come down to a couple of points.'' Djokovic and Nenad Zimonjic take on Hewitt and Paul Hanley in the doubles while Djokovic plays Hewitt and Tipsarevic faces Luczak in the reverse singles rubbers on Sunday.
REUTERS AK PM0017