ATP Cup: Germany knock off defending champions Serbia

Germany won the deciding doubles match to knock off defending champions Serbia in the ATP Cup

Alexander Zverev and Jan-Lennard Struff won the doubles tie to help Germany knock off defending champions Serbia in the ATP Cup

Alexander Zverev bounced back after a tough singles defeat to World No. 1 Novak Djokovic on Friday to send Germany into the ATP Cup semi-finals for the first time.

The World No. 7 partnered Jan-Lennard Struff to victory in the deciding doubles rubber against Djokovic and Nikola Cacic 7-6(4), 5-7, 10-7.

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Struff was Germany’s hero, having earlier won the No. 2 singles against Dusan Lajovic, before teaming with Zverev to seal the tie for Germany 2-1, knocking out the defending champion.

Germany advances to face Russia, the Group D winner, in Saturday’s semi-finals, with the final to be played Sunday. Team Russia is led by the double threat of Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev, who are both ranked inside the Top 10 in the ATP Rankings.

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“Obviously, [Russia is a] great team. Daniil Medvedev [is in] great shape. Rublev [is in] very good shape. But we too are also in good shape, so [it is] going to be [a] very interesting, intense tie and I hope we can beat them,” said Germany captain Mischa Zverev.

In a dramatic doubles, the Germans won six straight points from 2/4 down in the Match Tie-break, freezing out Djokovic at every opportunity and directing as much traffic as possible to the more inexperienced Cacic.

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In last year’s ATP Cup final, Djokovic backed up from his singles win over Rafael Nadal to partner Viktor Troicki in the deciding doubles, which earned Serbia the inaugural title.

Spain through despite defeat

Pablo Carreno Busta guaranteed Spain’s spot in the ATP Cup semi-finals on Friday with a 6-3, 6-4 win against Greece’s Michail Pervolarakis.

World No. 2 Rafael Nadal, who led Spain to last year’s championship match against Serbia, has not yet competed in this edition due to a stiff lower back. But Spain has battled on with two of the Top 20 players: World No. 16 Carreno Busta and World No. 13 Roberto Bautista Agut.

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Carreno Busta has stepped up well for his country, winning both of his singles matches — he also defeated Australian John Millman on Tuesday — in straight sets. The Spaniard broke in his first return game of the match, and he never looked back.

Stefanos Tsitsipas, the 2019 ATP Finals champion, kept Greece’s hopes alive in the tie by defeating Bautista Agut 7-5, 7-5.

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Tsitsipas and Markos Kalovelonis returned to John Cain Arena to take on Carreno Busta and Marcel Granollers to decide the tie. But after Greece won the first game, Spain retired due to an injury to Carreno Busta. That gave Greece its first tie victory.

Spain will take on Italy in the semi-finals. Matteo Berrettini has spearheaded Italy’s challenge, winning both his singles matches so far. He defeated World No. 3 Dominic Thiem 6-2, 6-4 in the opening contest against Austria and downed France’s Gael Monfils 6-4, 6-4 in the second tie.