Rublev wins to give Russia 1-0 lead in Davis Cup final

MADRID (AP) — Andrey Rublev beat Borna Gojo in straight sets to give Russia a 1-0 lead over Croatia in the Davis Cup final on Sunday, leaving Daniil Medvedev with the chance to secure his country’s first title in the team event since 2006.

No. 2 Medvedev will face No. 30 Marin Cilic in the other singles match later Sunday at the Madrid Arena.

Rublev converted on his first match point to clinch a 6-4, 7-6 (5) win over Gojo, who arrived at the Davis Cup Finals as the 279th-ranked player but had won all his three matches.

It was the third consecutive victory for the fifth-ranked Rublev after a loss against Spain’s Feliciano López in the group stage.

Gojo had no break opportunities throughout the match against Rublev, who converted one of his eight to grab the first set and eventually clinch the win in the second-set tiebreaker.

Russia is seeking its third Davis Cup title after triumphs in 2002 and 2006. Croatia has also won the competition on two occasions — 2005 and 2018.

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

Croatia got past Serbia and the top-ranked Novak Djokovic in the semifinals, while Russia ousted Germany.

The Russians won a group that included defending champion Spain and Ecuador, then advanced past Sweden in the quarterfinals. Croatia won a group with Australia and Hungary, then defeated Italy in the last eight.

Russia can complete a sweep of team events after the women’s team won the Billie Jean King Cup Finals in Prague last month. The last nation to do the double was Czech Republic in 2012.

Victory would also cap a special week for captain Shamil Tarpischev, the longest-serving Davis Cup captain. He first captained in 1974, and appeared in his 100th match as captain in the semifinals against Germany.

The International Tennis Federation and the Kosmos Tennis group that is behind the competition said that next year four cities will host the group stages, with another venue — likely Abu Dhabi — hosting the knockout rounds.

Madrid was the sole host of the competition over a seven-day period in 2019. This year, Innsbruck in Austria and Turin in Italy were added as hosts over an 11-day period. The event was not played in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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