Daniil Medvedev recovers from strange match to win Davis Cup for Russia with Andrey Rublev

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The Russian Tennis Federation has won the 2021 Davis Cup Finals after world No 2 Daniil Medvedev clinched the second and final point for his country in Sunday’s final. He defeated former world No 3 Marin Cilic 7-6(7) 6-2 in the final tie against Croatia, after compatriot Andrey Rublev had gotten the squad off to a winning start with a 6-4 7-6(5) win over Borna Gojo. The country had not won the event seen as the World Cup of men’s tennis since 2006, but the Russian Tennis Federation has now won all three major team tournaments in 2021.

The Russian Tennis Federation had been one of the favourites coming into Finals week, with two top five singles players in their arsenal.

However, they hadn’t won the prestigious event often dubbed the World Cup of men’s tennis since 2006, and were playing in their first final since 2007.

Meanwhile, Croatia were playing their third final in five years, losing to Argentina in 2016 before beating France to win the trophy in 2018.

World No 5 Andrey Rublev took on Borna Gojo in the first singles rubber, with the Croat becoming the MVP of this week’s Davis Cup Finals.

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Ranked down at world No 279, the 23-year-old had never beaten anyone inside the world’s top 75 prior to the Davis Cup Finals, and has since defeated world No 61 Alexei Popyrin in a group tie against Australia, world No 27 Lorenzo Sonego in front of an Italian crowd in Croatia’s quarter-final against Italy, and world No 33 Dusan Lajovic in Friday’s (December 3) semi-final against Team Serbia, led by Novak Djokovic.

The revelation of this week’s Finals tournament, Gojo was able to stay level with Rublev for most of the match but couldn’t repeat his heroics to defeat the 24-year-old.

The eight-time ATP title winner came through a tight two-setter 6-4 7-6(5) in an hour and 33 minutes to give the Russian team an advantage in the final and put them one match-win away from the title.

It was the turn of world No 2 Medvedev to try and win the second singles rubber for the Russian Tennis Federation, a day after his bizarre victory over Jan-Lennard Struff in the semi-final.

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During his 6-4 6-4 victory over the world No 51, the 25-year-old suffered with a nosebleed for most of the match and halted play while a set-and-a-break up to attempt to stop the bleeding.

He ended the match with blood stains on his shorts as the Spanish fans booed him, while he gestured as though he were stomping them down during his post-match celebration, and jeered the Madrid Arena crowd on further in his on-court interview, reminding them that the Russian team defeated defending champions Spain earlier in the week.

He then addressed the boos, saying: “It started in 2019 but I’m not gonna be tired to say it, people still don’t understand how to make me lose, they should support me, so it’s ok, continue, I’m gonna just win.”

Medvedev, who had not lost a match all week at the Davis Cup Finals, was pushed to the edge in an opening set that lasted an hour, saving break points before taking it 9-7 in the tiebreak.

The Russian was the first to strike in the second set, with the momentum on his side as he broke to lead 3-1 and bring his country within three games of their first Davis Cup glory in 15 years.

He then lost just one more game as he crowned the Russian Tennis Federation as the world champions, winning the match 7-6(7) 6-2 to win a third Davis Cup trophy for his country.

It caps off a stellar 2021 for Russian tennis, after Medvedev and Rublev started the season by helping their country win the ATP Cup.

The mixed doubles final at this year’s Olympics had been an all-Russian Olympic Committee affair as Andrey Rublev and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova defeated compatriots Aslan Karatsev and Elina Vesnina, with the gold and silver medals going to their country.

Karen Khachanov, also on the squad in Madrid this week, was able to win a silver medal in the singles as he lost to Alexander Zverev in the Tokyo final this summer.

The Russian players on the WTA Tour were equally as successful, finishing the season by winning the Billie Jean King Cup – the women’s tennis equivalent of the Davis Cup.

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