Madrid – Russia claimed its third Davis Cup title on Sunday after Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev both won their singles matches to defeat Croatia.
Medvedev’s 7-6 (9-7), 6-2 victory over Marin Cilic came after Rublev had prevailed 6-4, 7-6 (7-5) over Borna Gojo, giving Russia an unassailable 2-0 lead in Madrid.
Croatia’s greatest chance would have been in doubles with world No. 1 pair Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic, but they were always going to need an upset in singles play to take the tie to the final rubber.
Instead, Medvedev and Rublev, who are second and fifth, respectively, in the world rankings, made it nine wins in 10 matches for Russia’s power pair in the tournament.
“I can say that for all of us it’s very important to win here, it’s still the Davis Cup,” Medvedev said in a news conference.
“We still see Novak (Djokovic) playing. Rafa (Nadal) won it last time.
“No matter the format, the best players in the world are happy to represent their country. It’s Davis Cup and we are the winners of it. That’s the most important thing.”
Cilic and Gojo were far from overwhelmed and, with Real Madrid’s Luka Modric cheering in the crowd, they rose to the occasion in a compelling final that turned on two close tiebreaks.
Russia had not won the Davis Cup since 2006 and failed to reach a single quarterfinal between 2011 and 2018.
But Medvedev and Rublev are the leaders of a new generation of talent that could enjoy more success in the future, with Aslan Karatsev and Karen Khachanov also ranked in the top 30.
Victory for the men also completes a Russian one-two after the women’s team won the Billie Jean King Cup in Prague last month. The last country to do the double was the Czech Republic in 2012.
This was Croatia’s third Davis Cup final in five years after a 2016 defeat to Argentina and 2018 victory over France.
Russia, however, was a solid favorite and it was always going to take something special either from Cilic, the 33-year-old former U.S. Open champion, or Gojo, who is ranked 279th in the world.
Cilic had chances in the first set, including a break point on Medvedev’s second serve at 4-3. He hit the tape with an aggressive backhand return, however, and the set went to a tiebreak.
They changed over with Cilic up 4-2 after a Medvedev forehand skimmed wide, but the Russaian won four out of the next five points to create a set point on Cilic’s serve.
Cilic saved it with a courageous smash only to send a forehand approach just out to give Medvedev a second chance, which he spurned with a double fault.
A big serve down the middle gave Medvedev an 8-7 lead and this time Cilic caved to hand away the set.
With Cilic tiring and Medvedev growing in confidence, the second set was more of a stroll. Medvedev secured a break in the fourth game when a Cilic forehand popped up kindly off the net-chord before confirming victory with a second break.
Rublev’s precision from the baseline was decisive early in his match, but Gojo pushed him hard, particularly in the second set, when the Croatian led 5-4 in the tiebreak.
Yet Rublev delivered under pressure, arrowing a superb pass down the line before an inside-out forehand winner opened up match point, which he converted when a Gojo backhand drifted long.
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