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Djokovic Not Enough For Serbia as Croatia Advances to Davis Cup Final Against Russia

Nikola Mektic (2-L) and Mate Pavic (L) of Croatia are congratulated by Novak Djokovic (2-R) and Filip Krajinovic (R) of Serbia following their doubles tennis match at the semi final Davis Cup tie between Serbia and Croatia held at Madrid Arena tennis complex in Madrid, central Spain, 03 December 2021. EPA-EFE/Emilio Naranjo.

By Ricky Dimon

It will be Croatia vs. Russia in the championship match of the Davis Cup Finals after they earned respective semifinal victories on Friday and Saturday.

Croatia kicked off the semis by beating Serbia 2-1. Knowing that the Serbs were heavy favorites in the second singles rubber with Novak Djokovic and the Croats had the edge in doubles with Mate Pavic and Nikola Mektic, the crucial rubber was the opener between Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic and Croatia’s Borna Gojo. Although Gojo let the first set slip away, the former college star at Wake Forest recovered for a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory.

“In the first set I was up 4-2 40-0 — I was in control,” Gojo noted. “I slipped in that game there. I got down on myself a little bit, but then the captain and the team and the fans picked me back up. Obviously Davis Cup is a special competition where the pressure is bigger on everyone and I managed to play some of my best tennis here at this tournament. I’m very happy that I managed to get those big wins ranking wise, but for me it’s more important that I managed to get the point for the team.”

As expected, Djokovic leveled the tie with a 6-4, 6-2 defeat of Marin Cilic before Mektic and Pavic won the clincher 7-5, 6-1 over Djokovic and Filip Krajinovic.

Mate Pavic of Croatia reacts during the doubles tennis match against Novak Djokovic and Filip Krajinovic of Serbia during the semi final Davis Cup tie between Serbia and Croatia held at Madrid Arena tennis complex in Madrid, central Spain, 03 December 2021. EPA-EFE/JUANJO MARTIN

“[Djokovic] was showing that he was No. 1 in the world in singles,” Mektic reflected. “But luckily we didn’t play that sport; we played the sport with four people. We’re so happy.”

“It was a great win,” Pavic assured. “We played a tough team. Obviously Novak is the best player in the world. We managed to do it. From the group stages to the quarters to the semis, Borna and Marin played great matches. We’re super happy…and we’re ready now for the final.”

Up next for Croatia is high-powered Russia, which swept Germany 2-0 in the second semifinal on Saturday.

Andrey Rublev got things underway by playing far and away his best match of the competition, erasing Dominik Koepfer 6-4, 6-0 in 49 minutes. Medvedev quickly wrapped things up with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Jan-Lennard Struff.

Russia, which began the year with a triumph at the ATP Cup, is looking for its third Davis Cup title overall and first since 2006. The Russians have not played in the final since 2007, when they succumbed to the United States. Croatia has also won it twice–most recently in 2018.

Sunday’s singles rubbers are expected to be Rublev vs. Gojo and Medvedev vs. Cilic.

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.