Rublev and Khachanov clinch dramatic doubles victory over Djokovic and Troicki in Madrid
Andrey Rublev and Karen Khachanov saved three match points to claim a dramatic doubles victory over Novak Djokovic and Viktor Troicki to send Russia into the semi-finals of the Davis Cup by Rakuten Madrid Finals on Friday.
After Rublev and Djokovic cancelled each others’ singles wins earlier in the day, it all came down to a doubles decider that had all the ingredients of a true blockbuster. In a two-hour 13-minute tug of war, Rublev and Khachanov came out victorious 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(8) to secure a first semi-final appearance for Russia since 2008.
“That was a typical Davis cup match, deciding match in doubles where both countries gave their best, we were really fighting until the end, that’s the only way to win a match like that,” said Khachanov, who had lost 6-3, 6-3 to Djokovic in his singles earlier on Caja Magica’s Centre Court.
“We maybe got lucky in some points at the end, so there is only one winner. We feel really bad for the Serbian team but on the other side really happy that Russia qualified for the semis after a while.”
Rublev produced a stunning performance in his 6-1, 6-2 singles win over Filip Krajinovic to start the day, and was still in beast mode when he returned to the court for the doubles alongside Khachanov.
The Russian twosome made the Paris Masters final together a few weeks ago, and were 1-1 this week heading into the quarter-finals. They dug deep to take down a team like Serbia that is spearheaded by world No. 2 Djokovic and were asked if they fancy their chances against Canada in the semi-finals.
“I don’t know, it’s a tough question. We are not even thinking about it yet. We are just really happy with what happened now; you saw what happened in the tiebreak,” said a breathless Rublev.
“Both teams deserved to win and we were a little bit luckier. It’s an amazing feeling but we feel so bad for Serbia because they completely deserve to be here. We’ll see, Canada is going to be tough. They were first in their group and they won yesterday against a tough country like Australia, but we’ll do our best and see what happens.”
That was a typical Davis cup match, deciding match in doubles where both countries gave their best, we were really fighting until the end, that’s the only way to win a match like that
Djokovic replaced Janko Tipsarevic in the doubles line-up, playing alongside Viktor Troicki for the first time since Miami last year. The duo go way back, and first teamed up 16 years ago at a junior tournament in Italy, which they won, as young teens, defeating the likes of Fabio Fognini and Simone Bolelli en route.
The Serbs were the first to break, as Khachanov dropped serve to surrender to a 1-3 deficit but Rublev was still in beast mode and helped his partner recover. The Russian pair took the next four games to lead 5-3. Rublev comfortably served out the opening set but Serbia once again, broke and opened up a 4-1 gap in the second.
Rublev and Khachanov managed to get the break back but it didn’t come without drama as Djokovic lost his cool on a wrong correction from the chair umpire and also needed medical treatment for his right elbow, at times looking visibly in pain and unable to hold his racquet properly.
That didn’t stop the Serbs from creating break point opportunities as Khachanov was serving to stay in the second set at 4-5. The Russian saved two of them with aces, but double-faulted on the third as Djokovic and Troicki took the match to a decider.
Russia had two opportunities to break in the fifth game of the final set but both slipped away as the match continued on serve.
From 0-30 down, Rublev recovered remarkably to hold for 5-5 and it all came down to the tiebreak.
The Serbs twice climbed back from a mini-break down, before inching ahead 4-3 to take the lead for the first time in the breaker. A Djokovic return earned Serbia a first match point but Troicki couldn’t pull off the serve-and-volley attempt and they were back at 6-6.
A Djokovic volley winner got them a second match point but a ridiculous backhand volley from Rublev kept the Russians alive once again. Khachanov missed a backhand to face a third match point but a Troicki mistake proved costly and they went to 8-8. A long backhand from Djokovic handed Russia a first match point and Rublev found the big serve he needed to vault his side into the semi-finals.
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