Russians rescue Novak Djokovic and co as Serbia survive Davis Cup scare
After Germany topped Group F ahead of Serbia, Novak Djokovic and his compatriots relied on the Russians to see them into the quarter-finals.
Serbia got their 2021 Davis Cup Finals campaign underway in strong form by sweeping Austria 3-0 in their first tie.
However, they then lost to Germany 2-1, Djokovic claiming the only rubber in singles against Jan-Lennard Struff.
When Germany then defeated Austria 2-1 to top Group F, Serbia could only advance to the last eight as one of the two best runners-up among the six groups.
For that they had to turn to the final tie of Group A between Spain and the Russian Tennis Federation.
Played in Madrid, Djokovic and his teammates had to hope that the hosts would be ousted by the Russians in front of a home crowd.
That hope was off to a bad started when tour veteran and 40-year-old Feliciano Lopez upset world number five Andrey Rublev in the first singles rubber.
World number two Daniil Medvedev then levelled the tie by defeating Pablo Carreno Busta in straight sets to bring up a deciding doubles.
A 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 come-from-behind win from Aslan Karatsev and Andrey Rublev over Feliciano Lopez and Marcel Granollers carried their nation to the quarter-finals, along with Djokovic and Team Serbia.
Serbia won their first and so far only Davis Cup crown in 2010, a triumph Djokovic was part of.
In the first newly formatted Davis Cup in 2019, Serbia fell in the quarter-finals to Russia.
This year, they will take on Kazakhstan in the last eight before either Italy or Croatia should they reach the semi-finals.
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