Serbia captain Bogdan Obradovic tried to explain his team's astounding victory Saturday at Taco Bell Arena by pointing out that double specialist Nenad Zimonjic had beaten the Bryan brothers of the U.S. with six different partners.
His latest partner, Ilija Bozoljac - the unlikely new star of this Davis Cup tie - corrected him by holding up the appropriate number of fingers.
"Seven," Bozoljac whispered.
Bozoljac and Zimonjic beat Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan - the world's No. 1 doubles team and the most successful pairing in tennis history - in the longest U.S. Davis Cup doubles match by games since tiebreakers were introduced in 1989.
The final: 7-6 (5), 7-6 (1), 5-7, 4-6, 15-13.
The teams dueled for 76 tense, action-packed games - 20 more than in any previous U.S. doubles match.
The result gave Serbia a 2-1 lead in the quarterfinal tie that concludes with two singles matches Sunday.
"I just can't believe it," Bozoljac said, "but it did happen."
The first shocker was that the 27-year-old unknown in the headband and glasses was even on the court.
Bozoljac ranks 335th in the world in singles and 1,150th in doubles. He has 11 career singles match wins and six doubles wins on the ATP World Tour. He plays events on the Futures and Challenger circuits, the two steps below the ATP, and hadn't played a doubles match this season.
"You look at the numbers next to the guy's career, you see the performance today, something doesn't add up," U.S. captain Jim Courier said. "You couldn't expect he'd be able to hold his level the way he did today. Let's all tip our hats to his performance. We had him 15-30 a couple times, and the guy came up with some incredible shots. If he was Novak Djokovic, you would say, maybe. Not a guy where he's ranked."
Everyone expected No. 44 Viktor Troicki to play until he went five grueling sets against Sam Querrey on Friday. The Serbians met that evening and considered three options to pair with Zimonjic, a former No. 1 doubles player.
Troicki offered the most experience. Djokovic, the world's top singles player, offered the most talent. Bozoljac offered a chance to rest the two singles players to make a run at the Sunday sweep the Serbians thought they would need to win the tie.
They chose Bozoljac, who did not hit a single shot on the same side of the net as Zimonjic all week in practice.
"You figure, like Ilija said, there is nobody really who will be next to me that we have a good chance to win against the Bryans," Zimonjic said. "I was expecting the only way we can win is if we perform like this - serve unbelievable, take the chances when we get them."
That's what Bozoljac brought to the court.
He hit a serve more than 150 mph earlier in his career, and he repeatedly took vicious swipes with his ground strokes, particularly when returning the Bryans' softer second serves.
Bozoljac finished with 22 aces, 13 return winners, 71 total winners and 20 unforced errors - all the most of the four players.
"He's got a huge serve - he served great all day," Mike Bryan said. "He was actually the stronger returner there at the end. He didn't show any nerves. He came up with the goods. He did the X's and O's really well, which is serving and returning."
And he did it with a smile and a certain flair that might have made him the crowd favorite if he wasn't so busy breaking the Americans' hearts.
Bozoljac hit a forehand winner to put the Bryans in a 15-40 hole at 13-all in the fifth set and drove a return toward Mike's feet on 30-40 to secure the break the Serbians needed.
The Bryans had held serve in 33 consecutive games. The only other time they were broken was in the fifth game of the match.
"I really enjoyed it," said Bozoljac, who has a career-best ranking of No. 101 and has reached the second round in four Grand Slam events. "I didn't feel the pressure. I started (playing) because I like the stage and I just want to enjoy it. Usually when you feel like that, you make your best performance. I certainly did today. So did Nenad."
Zimonjic, who improved to 20-20 against the Bryans, did most of his damage with his serve.
"That's the best he's ever served against us," Bob said. "He usually doesn't go for the second-serve aces like that. I was looking at Mike and saying, 'Haven't seen that before.' "
Zimonjic recorded seven of his 14 aces in the fifth set. At 14-13, he fell into a quick 15-40 hole - a chance for the Bryans to get back in the match. He closed the opening with back-to-back aces and delivered a third ace on match point.
"If you have weapons like we do - serves and big shots - you want to use them in the big moments," Zimonjic said. "You don't want to count that they're going to miss because they are great players."
For the Bryans, the loss was their second straight in Davis Cup play - joining another five-set shocker in February against Brazil. That drops their career mark to 20-4.
"Unfortunately, the last two have been heart-wrenching, but it will probably make the fire burn a little hotter next match," Bob said.
Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat