Novak Djokovic wins twice to lead Serbia to Davis Cup semifinals

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MADRID – Novak Djokovic won his singles and doubles matches to lead Serbia into the semifinals of the Davis Cup Finals with a 2-1 come-from-behind win over Kazakhstan.

The top-ranked Djokovic kept Serbia alive in the quarterfinal by defeating Alexander Bublik in straight sets in his singles match, then teamed up with Nikola Cacic in the deciding doubles for a 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 win over Andrey Golubev and Aleksandr Nedovyesov.

Serbia reached the last four for the first time since 2017 and will face Croatia, which got past Italy on Monday.

Serbia broke serve at 2-2 and 5-3 in the third set of the doubles to seal its fifth semifinal appearance in the team event.

Serbia made it to the last eight as one of the top two second-place finishers from the six groups. It was second to Germany in a group that also included Austria.

Serbia lost to Russia in the quarterfinals of the first edition of the Davis Cup Finals in 2019. Its only title came in 2010 in a final against France, and it was runner-up to the Czech Republic in 2013.

Djokovic had to win his singles match after Mikhail Kukushkin defeated Miomir Kecmanovic in the opener.

Djokovic broke serve once in each set against the 36th-ranked Bublik to win 6-3, 6-4 and extend his singles winning streak in the Davis Cup to 17 matches. He comfortably won his first two matches in this year’s edition of the revamped team competition.

Djokovic had 11 break points in total in the match that lasted 1 hour, 18 minutes at the Madrid Arena.

The 182nd-ranked Kukushkin needed more than three hours in his 7-6 (5), 4-6, 7-6 (11) win over No. 69 Kecmanovic. He saved four match points, including two in the decisive tiebreaker.

Kukushkin was a break up in the second set but Kecmanovic came back by winning four straight games to even the match after converting his fifth set point.

Kecmanovic got off to a fast start in the decisive set but couldn’t capitalize on his five break opportunities to take a 4-0 lead. He then squandered two match points at 5-3 before being pushed into the tiebreaker. The Serbian needed medical attention at 5-4 but was able to continue.

Kukushkin saved another pair of match points in the tiebreaker before converting his fifth opportunity to clinch the win.

“This is why we love the Davis Cup,” Kukushkin said. “I’m just honored to play for my country and get the with for Kazakhstan. It was important for us. I’m super excited.”

Kazakhstan was trying to make its first semifinal appearance after reaching the last eight six times – most recently in 2018 when it lost to Croatia. It won its group this year against Sweden and Canada, the runner-up in 2019.

Viktor Troicki is making his debut as Serbia’s captain two years after his last appearance as a player.

It was a mostly packed Madrid Arena for the quarterfinal even though host Spain didn’t make it past the group stage. The Spanish capital was the sole host of the team event in 2019, but this time Innsbruck in Austria and Turin in Italy also held matches. Madrid will host both semifinals and the final.

A new venue for next year will be unveiled on Sunday.

Dodig, Krajicek win French Open men’s doubles title, a year after squandering match points in final

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A year after squandering three match points in the final, fourth-seeded Ivan Dodig of Croatia and Austin Krajicek of the United States won the men’s doubles title at the French Open on Saturday by beating unseeded Belgians Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen 6-4, 6-1.

Unlike last year’s tension-filled final, this one was never in doubt as the Croat-American duo broke the Belgians four times, saved all three break points they faced and wrapped up the win in 1 hour, 20 minutes.

It was the 38-year-old Dodig’s third major title in men’s doubles, after winning here in 2015 and at the Australian Open in 2021 – with different partners. But it was a first Grand Slam trophy for the 32-year-old Krajicek, a former top-100 ranked singles player.

Gille and Vliegen were playing together in their first major final.

Last year, Dodig and Krajicek lost to Marcelo Arevalo and Jean-Julien Rojer after having three championship points in the second set.

At French Open, Francisco Cerundolo is mad at chair umpire over Holger Rune’s double-bounce

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PARIS – Francisco Cerundolo of Argentina was devastated about losing his French Open fourth-round match to Holger Rune of Denmark in a fifth-set tiebreaker Monday. He also was mad at chair umpire Kader Nouni for missing a double-bounce of the ball on a point that was awarded to Rune early in his 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 (10-7) victory.

They were tied at a set apiece and on serve at 2-1 for the No. 6-seeded Rune early in the third at Court Suzanne Lenglen when the point of contention happened. Cerundolo, who was serving at deuce, hit a forehand that skidded low at the baseline and quickly bounced a second time – which normally would have meant that the point was his.

But Rune went ahead and got his racket on the ball, sending it back over the net. At about the same time, No. 23 seed Cerundolo was saying “sorry” to apologize for the odd way his forehand made the ball skim across the clay. Nouni was not immediately aware of the double-bounce, thought the ball was still in play and called Cerundolo for hindrance for talking during a point. That meant Rune got the point, and when he won the next one, too, he had a service break.

“It was unbelievable, because it was a clear double-bounce. I was mad at the umpire because he has to see it,” Cerundolo said. “It’s his fault.”

In tennis, electronic line-calling is used at many tournaments to make line calls, but replays are not used to check things like double-bounces or whether a point should be lost because a player touches the net, which is not allowed.

And while Cerundolo put the onus on the official, he also thought Rune could have ceded the point because of the double-bounce.

“For sure, I wish he would have done that, because it was a big moment,” Cerundolo said.

Rune, who moved into a matchup against No. 4 Casper Ruud in the quarterfinals, said he saw a replay after the following point, and “saw it was a double bounce. But the point already happened, and he called the score. So I felt sorry.”

But, Rune added: “This is tennis. This is sports. Some umpires, they make mistakes. Some for me; some for him. That’s life.”