Tennis

Novak Djokovic helps Serbia knock Japan out of Davis Cup

Kyodo

Japan bowed out of the Davis Cup Finals on Wednesday, going down to Serbia a day after opening its Group A campaign with a loss to France.

Filip Krajinovic beat Yuichi Sugita 6-2, 6-4 in the opening singles rubber at Madrid’s La Caja Magica before world No. 2 Novak Djokovic dispatched Yoshihito Nishioka 6-1, 6-2.

Nishioka on Tuesday beat France’s Gael Monfils 7-5, 6-2 to level the tie at 1-1 following Yasutaka Uchiyama’s 6-2, 6-1 loss to Jo-Wilfriend Tsonga. But the French pair of Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut overcame Japan’s Ben McLachlan and Uchiyama 6-7, 6-4, 7-5 in the doubles rubber to claim a 2-1 victory.

The Nov. 18-24 Davis Cup Finals are being held for the first time as a season-ending event with 18 teams competing in six round-robin groups.

The six group winners will advance to the quarterfinals, along with the two runners-up with the best scores.

In other matches Andy Murray defeated Tallon Griekspoor 6-7 (7-9), 6-4, 7-6 (7-5) on after trailing 4-1 in the third set and 4-1 in the decisive tiebreaker, giving his team a 1-0 lead in the Group E series.

“I’ve found a way to win matches many times in my career when I’ve not been playing well,” Murray said. “You can draw on that a little bit. I came up with some really good defensive shots at the end of the tiebreak and found a way to win.”

The United States failed to advance despite beating Italy 2-1 after a doubles match that ended past 4 a.m. local time in Madrid, the second latest finish in tennis history.

Sam Querrey and Jack Sock defeated Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini 7-6 (7-4), 6-7 (2-7), 6-4, but it wasn’t enough to send the Americans to the quarterfinals as one of the two-best second-place finishers. Only Lleyton Hewitt’s victory over Marcos Baghdatis at the 2008 Australian Open finished later, past 4:30 a.m. local time.

Murray had not played in the Davis Cup since 2016, when Britain lost to Argentina in the semifinals. In October, the three-time Grand Slam champion won his first title since undergoing hip surgery in January.

“I wasn’t feeling in the best shape coming in, and it showed a little bit in the match,” Murray said. “It is about finding a way to win, and I did that today. And I’m proud of myself because it would have been easy to have lost that.”