Serbia will play in the final of the first ATP Cup against Australia or Spain following a 2-0 victory over Russia at Ken Rosewall Arena in Sydney. Dusan Lajovic delivered the opening point for the Serbs before Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev produced an epic clash that world no.
2 won after two hours and 47 minutes to propel his country into the title match on Sunday. In the first rubber, Dusan Lajovic grabbed his fourth singles victory at the ATP Cup, prevailing against world no. 17 Karen Khachanov 7-5, 7-6 in an hour and 48 minutes.
After winning the title in Umag last summer, the Serb claimed only four victories by the end of the season, starting all over in 2020 and showing his abilities against the better-ranked Russian as well, dropping only 15 points on serve and never facing a break point to mount the pressure on Karen all the time.
Khachanov was there to fight but his second serve let him down in the end, suffering one break in the closing stages of the opener and failing to match the rival's pace in the second set tie break to propel Dusan over the finish line.
There was nothing to separate the competitors in the first 11 games and Karen had a massive chance to deliver a tie break, wasting no less than six game points at 5-6 before Lajovic converted the only break opportunity with a backhand down the line winner for a 7-5 in 50 minutes.
The returners were unable to reach at least a deuce in set number two and it was the Serb who played with less pressure on his back in the tie break, landing a forehand down the line winner to open a 3-0 lead and a service winner that sent him 5-0 in front.
In the eighth point, Lajovic forced an error from Khachanov to seal the deal and bring the first point for Serbia ahead of the anticipated clash between Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev. The sixth clash between two great rivals turned out to be an open war that Djokovic won 6-1, 5-7, 6-4 in almost three hours of incredible tennis on both sides, earning his fifth singles victory of the season and adding more points to his tally.
Novak won 15 points more than Daniil thanks to that opening set but had to work for every point in sets two and three, as the youngster pushed him to the limits until the very last moment for one of the best three-setters of the season that has just begun.
They both faced 11 break chances and Djokovic delivered better tennis in those crucial moments to cross the finish line first and stay on the title course. It was the tennis of the highest order from Novak in the opener, taking it in just over half an hour with breaks in games four and six after controlling the pace in the rallies and taming the rival's shots completely.
They traded breaks at the beginning of set number two, with Daniil securing another one in the fourth game after a forehand mistake from the Serb. Djokovic pulled the break back in the seventh game and reached four deuces on the return two games later, unable to make an extra step and create break opportunities.
Daniil responded with a break in game 12 thanks to a backhand down the line winner, stealing the set 7-5 after some 75 minutes and hoping for more of the same in the decider. There, Medvedev wasted game points at 2-2 and got broken after an incredible point and a volley winner from Novak who made the crowd erupting in joy.
Serving for the victory at 5-4, Novak fended off a couple of break opportunities, converting the second match point to lay on the ground and start a massive celebration with his teammates.