Russia beats Serbia to reach Davis Cup semis


Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal both played singles and doubles on
Friday, but only the Spaniard was able to lead his team into the last
four at the Davis Cup Finals.
Nadal guided Spain to a 2-1 comeback victory over Argentina, while
Djokovic couldn’t prevent Serbia from being eliminated after a 2-1
loss to Russia.
Andy Murray didn’t play again on Friday, but Britain made the last
four by beating Germany 2-0.
Spain will make its second straight semifinal appearance after Nadal
and Marcel Granollers defeated Máximo González and Leonardo Mayer 6-4,
4-6, 6-3 in the decisive doubles match in front of a lively and vocal
crowd at the Caja Mágica centre court.
Guido Pella had defeated Pablo Carreño Busta 6-7 (3), 7-6 (4), 6-1 in
the first singles, but Nadal had kept Spain in contention with an easy
6-1, 6-2 win over Diego Schwartzman for his 27th straight Davis Cup
singles victory.
“It was a must-win match, nothing else mattered,” the top-ranked Nadal said.
Argentina, backed by a boisterous group of fans that at times made
more noise than the local Spanish crowd, was hoping to get some
payback after it was beaten at home by Spain in the 2008 Davis Cup
final, when it was heavily favoured against a Spanish team that was
without an injured Rafael Nadal. Spain also beat Argentina in the 2011
final played in Sevilla.
Argentina made the semifinals for the last time in 2016, when it won
its only Davis Cup title.
Djokovic defeated Karen Khachanov 6-3, 6-3 to even the score at 1-1,
then returned to the court about half an hour later to team with
Viktor Troicki in the decisive doubles. They had three match points
but lost to Khachanov and Andrey Rublev 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (8).
“It hurts really badly,” Djokovic said. “These kinds of matches happen
once in maybe forever. That’s it. The season is done and we’re turning
the next page.”
The Russians converted on their first match point to put the team back
in the Davis Cup semifinals for the first time since 2008.
“Both teams had a lot of chances,” said Rublev, who won the opening
singles against Filip Krajinovic 6-1, 6-2. “It was like a coin toss,
and we won this coin toss.”
Russia will next face Canada, which eliminated Australia on Thursday.
Serbia, the 2010 Davis Cup champion, was trying to return to the
semifinals for the first time since 2017, when the team lost to
eventual champion France.
After his 15th straight Davis Cup singles victory, Djokovic struggled
in the doubles, although it was Troicki who squandered most of the
chances in the tight tiebreaker, including some during the match
“I probably feel the worst ever,” Troicki said. “I never experienced
such a moment in my career, in my life. And I let my team down, and I
apologize to them.”
Djokovic, who hadn’t played in the Davis Cup since 2017, couldn’t hide
his frustration as Serbia trailed in the second set, complaining with
the umpire and hitting a ball deep into the stands after losing a
point. He also requested medical assistance on his right arm.
Serbia was trying to reach the last four for the fourth time since
winning its only Davis Cup title in 2010. It was runner-up once since
then, in 2013.
Britain advanced past Germany thanks to Kyle Edmund’s 6-3, 7-5 win
over Philipp Kohlschreiber and Daniel Evans’ 7-6 (6), 3-6, 7-6 (2)
victory over Jan-Lennard Struff.
For the second day in a row, captain Leon Smith did not play Murray
who, after a comeback victory in the first tie of the group stage,
said he was not in his best shape.
“Made the decision last night after talking to the guys,” Smith said.
“He could play, but I wouldn’t say he’s in his best condition, as he
said to you guys the other day. He says that’s how he’s feeling. So we
have to keep talking about it.”
Britain last played in the semifinals in 2016, a year after winning
its 10th title.

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