Danill Medvedev seals Russia’s win over Germany in Davis Cup semis

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Daniil Medvedev had just put Russia into the Davis Cup final by sealing a win over Germany when he turned to the stands at the Madrid Arena and started pointing repeatedly at the hard court beneath his feet.

He was here to stay in Madrid for one more day, to lead Russia against Croatia for the most illustrious team trophy in men’s tennis.

The jeers poured down from the German fans and neutral Spaniards, but the world’s second-ranked player didn’t mind. In fact, he egged them on and defiantly stamped his foot before he pumped his fist to the Russian contingent soaking up their victory.

Medvedev said it was just his team’s way of celebrating in an imitation of other team sports like soccer where the `stay calm’ gesture has become popular. And if the crowd took it wrong, so be it.

“We have a joke on the team when we practice or play cards, I have seen football players like Cristiano (Ronaldo) do it, we say `calm, calm, calm’,” Medvedev said. “So I decided to celebrate like this and everyone started whistling… I am just really happy we managed to still be here on Sunday.”

Medvedev brushed aside Jan-Lennard Struff aside 6-4, 6-4 to seal the Russian victory on Saturday after Andrey Rublev took the lead with a 6-4, 6-0 win over Dominik Koepfer.

Croatia awaits Russia after eliminating Novak Djokovic’s Serbia on Friday. Both Russia and Croatia will be aiming for a third Davis Cup title.

“Croatia is a very strong team, it has always been at the Davis Cup,” Medvedev said. “I am not expecting anything easy, so we will have to play our best to have our chances to win.”

Medvedev reaches the final, where he should be slated to face Croatia’s No. 1 Marin Cilic, after not dropping a single set at the tournament.

With four players ranked in the top 30, Russia was favored against a German team playing without star Alexander Zverev.

The reigning U.S. Open champion had little trouble commanding his serve against Struff, and it seemed only a matter of when he could pounce on a mistake by the German.

Struff hung tight with Medvedev until he dug himself into a 0-40 hole at 4-4 in the first set. He saved two break points before sending an approach shot into the net to fall behind. Medvedev then held his serve easily to take a one-set lead.

Medvedev pressed home his advantage after going up a break at 3-2 in the second set.

The fifth-ranked Rublev had shown weakness over the past week. He lost to Spain’s 40-year-old Feliciano Lopez and had to go to three sets to beat Ecuador’s Roberto Quiroz and Swede Elias Ymer.

He needed just 50 minutes to see off Koepfer.

Rublev smashed in six aces to ease to a set advantage. Koepfer faded fast, ceding breaks in his three service games of the second set as Rublev cruised to victory.

The Russian team is officially being called RTF (Russian Tennis Federation) in the competition amid its ongoing doping suspension in international sport.

Novak Djokovic to start 2023 in Adelaide ahead of Australian Open

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MELBOURNE, Australia – Novak Djokovic will open his 2023 campaign in Adelaide as he prepares for a shot at a 10th Australian Open crown a year after having his visa revoked on the eve of his title defense.

The 21-time major winner has been granted a visa by the Australian government and has been listed to play at the Adelaide International, which starts Jan. 1.

Serbia isn’t contesting the inaugural United Cup team competition, leaving Djokovic free to play regular warmup tournaments head of the Jan. 16-29 Australian Open.

He’ll be joined in the men’s draw at Adelaide by Russians Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev, Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada and Andy Murray.

Ons Jabeur, Aryna Sabalenka will headline the women’s draw.

Immigration Minister Andrew Giles last month confirmed Djokovic had been granted a visa to compete in Australia in January. The 35-year-old Serbian had been facing a possible three-year ban after being deported last January over his stance against COVID-19 vaccination.

Djokovic has won the Australian Open a record nine times, including the last three times he played. Rafael Nadal won this year’s title in Djokovic’s absence.

Djokovic was not vaccinated against COVID-19 when he arrived in Melbourne ahead of the 2022 tournament, but Australia has since lifted strict rules for unvaccinated travelers.

Karolina Pliskova reuniting with Sascha Bajin

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Two-time Grand Slam finalist Karolina Pliskova is reuniting with coach Sascha Bajin ahead of the 2023 season.

Pliskova posted on her website and her Twitter account about the move, which comes about six months after she and Bajin stopped working together. The pair originally teamed up in November 2020.

While Bajin was her coach, Pliskova reached the final at Wimbledon in 2021 before losing to champion Ash Barty. Pliskova also was the runner-up at the 2016 U.S. Open, where she defeated Serena Williams in the semifinals before being beat by Angelique Kerber for the trophy.

After splitting from Bajin in July, Pliskova was coached by Leos Friedl. Their results together included a quarterfinal run at the U.S. Open.

Bajin has worked as a coach or hitting partner with several top tennis players, including Grand Slam title winners Williams, Naomi Osaka, Victoria Azarenka and Caroline Wozniacki.

“Thank you for having me back,” Bajin wrote on Twitter. “Let’s go get it.”

Pliskova is a 30-year-old from the Czech Republic who reached No. 1 in the WTA rankings in 2017 and finished this season at No. 31 after going 21-21 with no titles.

Her team also includes fitness specialist Jez Green and physiotherapist Martin Salvador.

Next year’s first Grand Slam tournament, the Australian Open, begins Jan. 16.