Not even Novak Djokovic playing back-to-back could help Serbia avoid losing to Germany in the Davis Cup finals group phase on Saturday.
After Djokovic helped Serbia pull even at 1-1 by beating Jan-Lennard Struff, the world’s top-ranked male player immediately joined Nikola Cacic in doubles. But German pair Tim Puetz and Kevin Krawietz showed more mettle in a tight 7-6, 3-6, 7-6 victory to take the decider and the victory 2-1.
“It’s a great performance to beat the team who have the world No. 1,” Germany captain Michael Kohlmann said. “Before the tie, we all thought that we had a good chance. We really believed it and it paid off.”
Serbia could still go through to the quarterfinals, which will include two runners-up to go with the six group winners. But Germany can seal its spot as the Group F winner with a victory over Austria, which Serbia has already beaten.
Djokovic defeated Struff 6-2, 6-4 in the Serb’s 50th Davis Cup match. After a short break, he was back out there for the doubles that lasted more than two hours.
“We will have to wait until tomorrow and see (if we advance),” Serbia captain Viktor Troicki said. “Filip had a tough one, and in doubles, what can I say after this match? A 7-6 loss in the third (set), and we had a lot of chances. I am still proud of my team. It wasn’t our day in the end. I hope we still have a chance.”
Italy became the first team to book its spot in the final eight after it beat Colombia to take two points from Group E, which it also shares with the United States.
Second-ranked Daniil Medvedev helped Russia beat Ecuador, setting up a clash with Spain to decide which will go through as group winner.
Medvedev eased past Emilio Gómez 6-0, 6-2 after breaking his serve five times to give Russia an insurmountable 2-0 lead.
“I wanted to keep it clean from the first to the last point of the match and I am happy to bring the point to the team,” the U.S. Open champion said.
Fifth-ranked Andrey Rublev started the tie with a more difficult than expected 6-3, 4-6, 6-1 win over Roberto Quiroz. Rublev returned to help Aslan Karatsev prevail 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 in doubles over Gonzalo Escobar and Diego Hidalgo.
Russia and defending champion Spain have one point in Group A, which is being played in Madrid. They will meet in the Spanish capital on Sunday with expectations of a good crowd.
Britain, Australia and Kazakhstan also won their ties on Saturday.
The 12th-ranked Norrie overcame a dozen aces by Rinderknech after breaking his serve twice. Evans broke Mannarino’s serve three times.
Britain and France have one point in Group C. Britain plays the pointless Czech Republic, which already lost to France, on Sunday with the chance to seal its spot in the quarterfinals.
Kazakhstan can clinch its sixth quarterfinals appearance if it beats Canada, which has already lost to Sweden.
Australia staved off elimination after coming from behind to top Hungary 2-1 in Turin.
Australia, a 28-time winner, has one point from two ties in Group D. Croatia has one point before playing Hungary, which has zero.
“It was a war of attrition (for de Minaur),” captain Lleyton Hewitt said. “In doubles our boys were in control, but you never know in doubles. But I think we really deserved it.”