Sinner enjoys back-to-back wins over Djokovic at Davis Cup
MALAGA, Spain (AP) — Jannik Sinner secured back-to-back wins over top-ranked Novak Djokovic in the singles and doubles to lead Italy into the Davis Cup final after rallying past Serbia 2-1 on Saturday.
Miomir Kecmanovic beat Lorenzo Musetti 6-7 (7), 6-2, 6-1 to give Serbia a 1-0 lead in their semifinal showdown, and Djokovic had Serbia on the cusp of the final when he faced Sinner in the second singles match.
But the fourth-ranked Sinner saved three match points before ending Djokovic's streak of 21 straight wins in Davis Cup singles matches, 6-2, 2-6, 7-5, to pull Italy level at 1-1 with Serbia. It was the third singles meeting between the top-ranked Djokovic and Sinner in 12 days. Sinner beat Djokovic in the ATP Finals group stage last week before Djokovic beat Sinner in the final to earn a record-breaking seventh ATP Finals title.
Sinner then teamed up with Lorenzo Sonego in the doubles. They beat Djokovic and Kecmanovic 6-3, 6-4.
Italy will face Australia in Sunday's final on the same indoor hard court in southern Spain. Italy's only title was in 1976. Its last final was in 1998.
Djokovic was aiming to finish his superb season that has included three Grand Slam titles — and a record 24 overall — by leading his country to its first final in a decade. He helped Serbia win its only Davis Cup title in 2010.
Sinner's wins avenged his loss to Djokovic for the ATP Finals title just six days earlier.
Djokovic's previous singles loss in the Davis Cup was when he retired against Juan Martin del Potro in Serbia's 2011 semifinal defeat against Argentina. Djokovic's last loss in a completed singles match in the Davis Cup was in 2009.
In the first singles match, Musetti recovered from an early break to win a first-set tiebreaker. But Kecmanovic got stronger as the match went on and enjoyed a lopsided third set for his first win in three career meetings with Musetti.
In the second singles match, Sinner started strongly and won back-to-back breaks for a 4-1 lead in the first set. Djokovic then hit back by breaking Sinner twice in the second set to force a decider.
Djokovic had five break chances, including the match points, in the third set, but Sinner saved them all. Djokovic squandered his trio of match points before Sinner rallied and broke his next service game to go ahead 6-5 before serving out the match.
Sinner clinched the decisive point in doubles when he jammed Djokovic with a big serve that the Serb backhanded in the net.
During a tense moment in the doubles match, Djokovic gestured to the crowd with both hands as if asking for more when Italy's fans were shouting and jeering him. On Thursday, after helping to beat Britain, Djokovic told a section of the British fans to "shut up" and "be quiet" as they began drumming during his on-court interview.
On Thursday, Djokovic became the outright most successful Serbian player when he beat Cameron Norrie for his 44th victory in the competition.
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