Novak Djokovic helps Serbia beat Austria in Davis Cup finals | Tennis News

Top-ranked Novak Djokovic took victory for Serbia, Feliciano Lopez, 40, gave defending champion Spain a good start, and a young Italian team surpassed the 32-time United States champions in the Davis Cup final on Friday.

Djokovic beat Dennis Novak 6-3, 6-2 to give Serbia a 2-0 lead over host Austria in Innsbruck after Dusan Lajovic defeated Gerald Melzer in straight sets to open the best-of-three series in Group F. The victory continued Djokovic’s winning streak in the Davis Cup singles matches at 15.

“It’s great to play for Serbia again,” said Djokovic, who helped his country win the Davis Cup in 2010 but more recently failed to win a medal in singles or mixed doubles. at the Tokyo Olympics. “It’s been a long year but you still find motivation to play for your country.”

Djokovic won seven straight 3-3 games in the first set to take control. “I’m really happy with the way I finished the game today,” he said.

Djokovic was also expected to play in a potentially decisive doubles match, but was later replaced by Nikola Cacic after winning his singles match. Lopez gave Spain an early lead over Ecuador in Group A with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Roberto Quiroz at home in Madrid. Then Pablo Carreno Busta beat Emilio Gomez 5-7, 6-3, 7-6 (5).

Lopez was plunged into singles action when Carlos Alcaraz had to be pulled from the squad after testing positive for coronavirus on Thursday as Spain was already without injured Rafael Nadal and Roberto Bautista Agut.

The United States, meanwhile, had a rough start against host Italy in Turin. Lorenzo Sonego beat Reilly Opelka 6-3, 7-6 (4) in his hometown in Group E, then Jannik Sinner dominated against John Isner 6-2, 6-0. Rajeev Ram and Jack Sock beat Fabio Fognini and Lorenzo Musetti in doubles 7-6 (5), 6-2 to bring the final score to 2-1. Still, for an Italian team without its best player Matteo Berrettini – who is injured – it was quite a start.

“There were a lot of firsts today: Sonego and Sinner made their Davis Cup debuts, I made my debut as a captain, Musetti also made his debut and played with Fognini for the first time” said Italian captain Filippo Volandri. “But this is only the first step.”

Each match on the indoor hard courts is a best-of-three series comprising two singles matches and one doubles match. The six group winners as well as the two second-place teams with the best records based on sets and matches will advance to the quarter-finals. The semi-finals and the final will be played in Madrid.

Lopez, who was once ranked 12th, fell outside the top 100 in both singles and doubles. His career has lasted so long that he has already started his post-playing career, having been appointed tournament director of the Madrid Open.

“I still have a passion for the game. It’s obvious,” said Lopez. “I was waiting for an opportunity like this. I didn’t expect to play but a lot has happened this week… I ended up playing a great game.

The big-serving Opelka double faulted to give Sonego the only break of their game, then made a few more errors in the tie-breaker as the Italian closed the game with a volley winner on his first match point. Isner, who is also one of the biggest servers on tour, has only served twice against Sinner, 20, a new top 10.

“I can’t remember a game I lost so easily,” Isner said. “This might be the first time… I wasn’t getting free points. It made it very difficult for me. He was blocked. He hits the ball extremely well and has a lot of confidence … Even though I played at my best, I don’t know if I could have beaten him today.

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