Daniil Medvedev Leads Russian Tennis Federation to Davis Cup Glory

The Davis Cup triumph caps off a 2021 filled with team success.
10:00, 06 Dec 2021

Daniil Medvedev brought an extraordinary personal and team year of success to an end by leading the Russian Tennis Federation team to Davis Cup victory over Croatia in the final in Madrid on Sunday night.

The Russians were red-hot favourites going into the showpiece, and the deal was sealed in straightforward fashion in the singles with two straight-sets wins, as first Andrey Rublev beat Borna Gojo 6-4, 7-6 (7-5) and then world No2 Medvedev saw off former US Open winner Marin Cilic 7-6 (9-7), 6-2. The doubles team of Rublev and Aslan Karatsev were, as in the 2-0 semi-final win over Sweden, not required for action with the title already secured.

That means the RTF are holders currently of both the Davis Cup title and also that for the Billie Jean King Cup for women, after Daria Kasatkina and Liudmila Samsonova got the singles wins to beat Switzerland in that final in November. Throw in the ATP Cup win earlier in the year, and there is little doubt over who is the national tennis team of 2021.

But what a year it has been for the 25-year-old Medvedev, who won all five of his singles matches in the Finals. Waging almost a one-man war to try and stop Novak Djokovic sweeping the board he won the US Open, beating the Serb in the final and becoming the first Russian since Marat Safin in 2000 to lift the trophy.

And Rublev, a year younger, has not been far behind in 2021. He won the ATP Cup together with Medvedev, attained his highest ever world ranking of No5, also won in Rotterdam as well as claiming Olympic mixed doubles gold in Tokyo with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

It does remain an uncomfortable reality that Russian players can continue to compete in high-profile competition such as this through the mechanism of their tennis federation despite the wider country being banned from international sport, but that is not the fault of those who have carried all before them in Madrid.

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It was a third Davis Cup success for the Federation or ‘those representing Russia’, as it is necessary to clumsily call them in a bid to circumvent the vagaries of the situation, following successes as Russia in 2002 and 2006.

Medvedev, who further won all 10 sets played in his five matches, said: “It feels amazing but I am more happy for the team than for myself. There is a great atmosphere among the group of players and it is wonderful to be part of it and contribute with the points we needed. It has been two of the best weeks of my career.

“Marin is a great player so it was a tough match, and in a tiebreak it can be a bit of a lottery. But luckily I did enough to win.”

There was barely a Russian supporter in the arena with those that were vastly outnumbered by the hordes of football-shirted Croatian fans, arriving in great humour after seeing off Serbia and Djokovic in the semi-finals. But Rublev and Medvedev never looked rattled by that for a split-second.

Meanwhile Great Britain are to be soared the full Davis Cup p[lay-offs lottery for 2022 having along with Serbia been handed a wildcard spot into the Finals group stages while so many others are forced to battle it out. The Russian Tennis Federation and Croatia will also be straight through after getting to this year’s final.

GB Davis Cup captain Leon Smith said: “We are delighted to be awarded as wildcard into next year’s Davis Cup Finals. All our GB players love coming together for those weeks and are keen to have another crack at the trophy in 2022.”

The likely destination for next year’s Finals is Abu Dhabi, and a deal for between three and five years was extended to have been signed and announced by now – but that has not happened to date, even if expected before long. The groups would be played in four different cities, set to be in Europe.

Enric Rojas, the CEO of Kosmos Tennis commenting on the travel ramifications, said: “The players are going to have still two days for resting and adapting. I can't see the jet lag at all because there is not that much time difference if we finally go there [Abu Dhabi].”

Australia's Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt is not a fan of the proposed move. He said last week: "If they are going and selling the soul of the Davis Cup to the Middle East, they are really killing the competition.”

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