Davis Cup 2021 - Novak Djokovic and Serbia's run ended by Croatia duo Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic
Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic held their nerve to beat Novak Djokovic and Filip Krajinovic 7-5 6-1 to seal a fourth Davis Cup final appearance for Croatia. Novak Djokovic’s win against Marin Cilic had sent the semi-final to a deciding rubber after Borna Gojo’s surprise win over Dusan Lajovic earlier on Friday. Stream the 2021 Davis Cup finals live and on demand on discovery+
Croatia's Mate Pavic celebrates beating Serbia's Novak Djokovic and Serbia's Filip Krajinovic during the men's doubles semi-final tennis match between Croatia and Serbia of the Davis Cup tennis tournament at the Madrid arena in Madrid on December 3, 2021
Croatia will contest a fourth Davis Cup final after Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic showed their class to beat Novak Djokovic and Filip Krajinovic 7-5 6-1 to win their semi-final against Serbia 2-1.
World number one Djokovic beat Marin Cilic in the second rubber of the day to send the semi-final to a decider after world number 279 Borna Gojo had given Croatia the initiative with a surprise win over Dusan Lajovic.
However, Olympic gold medallists Mektic and Pavic confirmed their status as the finest doubles pairing in the men’s game as they produced a masterclass to seal a spot in the final, where they will face the Russian Tennis Federation or Germany.
Mektic and Pavic were aggressive throughout and dominated the net to seal a comfortable win to move into the final for the fourth time after previous appearances in 2005, 2016 and 2018. The Croatian pair – who have won nine titles in 2021 – secured the decisive break at the end of the first set and capitalised in a drop of intensity in the second to secure a double break to progress to the final.
“It was a great win and we played a great team – Djokovic is the best player in the world,” Pavic said after the match.
Vedran Martic's team will now aim to emulate the successes of the 2005 and 2018 teams, who beat Slovakia and France respectively.
Earlier, Djokovic claimed a 19th straight win in singles at the Davis Cup as he beat Marin Cilic 6-4 6-2 to send the semi-final to a deciding doubles rubber.
The 20-time Grand Slam winner has only ever lost one Davis Cup singles match – against Olivier Rochus on clay back in 2005 – and handled a pressure situation against a fired up Cilic after Gojo had beaten Lajovic in three sets earlier in the day.
2014 US Open winner Cilic fashioned six break points in the opening set and a further two in the second, but was unable to convert against Djokovic, who has now not been broken in matches against Dennis Novak, Jan-Lennard Struff or Alexander Bublik at this year’s event.
Djokovic, contrastingly, was brutally efficient when the opportunity presented itself, sealing the decisive break in game nine of the first set from 0-40 down and securing an early double break in the second to race away from the 33-year-old Cilic and send the match to a decider.
Djokovic claims 19th straight singles win at Davis Cup with Cilic success
"It was always going to be a tough match," said Djokovic afterwards.
It was a very nervy start from both of us and we both knew the significance of the match!
Earlier, world number 279 Borna Gojo held his nerve to beat Dusan Lajovic 4-6 6-3 6-2 to give Croatia a 1-0 advantage.
The importance of this opening rubber made it a high-pressure, low quality affair as both players struggled to put together any fluid tennis, but it was 23-year-old Gojo who managed to settle better to give his country the advantage.
The tie represented the first time that the pair had met, and Gojo - buoyed perhaps by impressive results against Italy's world number 21 Lorenzo Sonego and Australia’s world number 61 Alexei Popyrin earlier in the competition - was in the ascendancy from the off and was two points away from a 5-1 advantage in the first. However, after a spectacular collapse, 17 of the final 18 points went Lajovic's way as the world number 33 gave Serbia the early initiative.
The Croatian finished the first set with 19 unforced errors to his opponent's 12, and the match remained a low-quality affair in the second. Gojo, again, was in the ascendancy early, passing on an opportunity to open up a 4-0 advantage, but, unlike the first set, he managed to capitalise on the early break to serve it out to send the match to a deciding set.
Gojo again broke early in the decider, twice, as his more experienced opponent began to churn through the unforced errors - Lajovic would finish the match with 44 - and held his nerve to see it out.
World number 279 Borna Gojo stuns Dusan Lajovic
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