Playing for the first time since winning his 24th Grand Slam singles title at the US Open, Novak Djokovic continued his winning ways with a 6-3, 6-4 Davis Cup win against Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina on Friday. Djokovic’s victory in Valencia clinched the tie for Serbia and secured the nation its place in the Davis Cup Final 8 in Malaga in November.
“I’m on cloud nine, as you can say, with everything the has been happening lately on the tennis court,” Djokovic said post-match, alluding to his titles in Cincinnati and at the US Open. “Obviously playing for Serbia, for my country, is something completely different. It’s a huge responsibility and pressure, but also an incredible privilege and honour.
“I’m really glad that I was able to contribute with a crucial point to qualify for Malaga with this win.”
Djokovic trailed 1-4 in the second set against Davidovich Fokina but won the final five games to secure a straight-sets victory. He was broken on the only break point he faced in the match, but made up for it by converting on three of his five break chances. Djokovic finished a strong serving day with 10 aces and an 80 per cent win rate (33/41) on first serve.
“He was playing really aggressive, taking the ball early and not giving me much time,” the Serbian said of his opponent. “It was really tough, but when it mattered, I think I came up with the goods and played some good tennis.”
The 36-year-old is seeking to lead his nation to its second Davis Cup title, having helped Serbia to its first crown in 2010 and a runner-up finish in 2013.
Laslo Djere opened the tie with a 6-4, 6-4 win against Albert Ramos-Vinolas to give Serbia a 1-0 lead against hosts Spain, who are now eliminated from contention for the Final 8. The Serbian doubles team of Nikola Cacic and Miomir Kecmanovic completed a 3-0 sweep with a 6-4, 7-6(13) win against Davidovich Fokina and Marcel Granollers.
Serbia will face Czech Republic, who are also qualified for the Final 8, on Saturday to determine who finishes first in Group C.
Finland defeats Croatia in Group D
Match wins from Otto Virtanen and Emil Ruusuvuori earned Finland victory in its Group D matchup against Croatia on Friday. With the result, Finland improves to 1-1 in the Davis Cup Finals group stage, setting up what will function as a knockout tie against the United States (also 1-1) on Saturday.
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The Netherlands, currently in first place in the group at 2-0, are now guaranteed a spot in the Final 8.
In Split, Virtanen opened Friday’s tie with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 win against Croatia’s Dino Prizmic before Ruusuvuori made it 2-0 with a 7-6(3), 6-4 win against Borna Gojo.