The Russian tennis federation (RTF) team has won the Davis Cup title for the first time since 2006 after beating Croatia in Sunday’s final in Madrid.
The heavily fancied Russian team clinched an unassailable 2-0 lead after Danill Medvedev defeated former US Open champion Marin Cilic in straight sets, 7-6 (9-7) 6-2, in the second singles match of the tie.
Andrey Rublev had set Russia on their way earlier in the day with a hard-fought victory in his singles match against gutsy 23-year-old Croatian Borna Gojo, 6-4 7-6 (7-5).
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">The moment <a href="https://twitter.com/DaniilMedwed?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@DaniilMedwed</a> defeated Cilic 7-6(7) 6-2 to clinch a third Davis Cup title for RTF ⚪️🔵🔴<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/DavisCupFinals?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#DavisCupFinals</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/byRakuten?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#byRakuten</a> <a href="https://t.co/yX6rrIQm4x">pic.twitter.com/yX6rrIQm4x</a></p>— Davis Cup (@DavisCup) <a href="https://twitter.com/DavisCup/status/1467565039570014209?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">December 5, 2021</a></blockquote>
The results meant a doubles match was not required as Russia took the title home for the first time since they defeated Argentina on home soil in Moscow 15 years ago.
Sunday’s final in Spain was the first time a Russian team had reached this stage of the tournament – which is the most prestigious in men’s international team tennis – since they faced off against the USA in 2007 in Portland.
Russia have now won the Davis Cup three times in the tournament’s illustrious history, with their other titles coming in 2002 against France in Paris as well as their Moscow triumph in 2006.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">2002, 2006, 2021 🏆🏆🏆<br><br>RTF are World Champions for the third time! 🎾<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/DavisCupFinals?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#DavisCupFinals</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/byRakuten?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#byRakuten</a> <a href="https://t.co/LcJjse9frn">pic.twitter.com/LcJjse9frn</a></p>— Davis Cup (@DavisCup) <a href="https://twitter.com/DavisCup/status/1467563167576477707?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">December 5, 2021</a></blockquote>
RUSSIAN MEN’S TENNIS ON THE UP
With Medvedev and Rublev in their ranks – who are rated second and fifth in the world respectively – the Russian team were among the strong favorites heading into this year’s 18-nation Davis Cup Finals, where they were formally competing under the banner of the national tennis federation due to ongoing WADA sanctions.
Alongside Medvedev and Rublev were Karen Khachanov and Aslan Karatsev, both top-30 players who played their part in the doubles matches on the way to the title.
<blockquote> <span><strong>Read more</strong></span> <figure> <img src="https://cdni.rt.com/files/2021.12/thumbnail/61ab95c085f5405a997e0ba2.jpg" alt="Daniil Medvedev needed treatment for a nosebleed but helped the Russian team book a spot in the Davis Cup final. © AFP" /> <figcaption><a href="/sport/542221-medvedev-nosebleed-fans-davis-cup/">WATCH: Bloodied Medvedev has perfect response to crowd boos as Russia reach Davis Cup final</a></figcaption> </figure> </blockquote>
En route to the decisive tie of the tournament, the RTF quartet had beaten Ecuador and then hosts and defending champions Spain during the round-robin stage, as well as Sweden in the quarter-finals before overcoming Germany in the semi-finals on Saturday.
Croatia, the 2018 champions, had beaten Novak Djokovic’s Serbia in their semi-final but were unable to match the impressive Medvedev and Rublev in the Spanish capital.
The result capped a strong year for Russian men’s tennis as Medvedev, 25, won the US Open in September, becoming the first male star from his country to win a Grand Slam title for 16 years.
Compatriot Rublev, 24, ends the year at a career-high ranking of world number five and also scooped Olympic gold in Tokyo in the mixed doubles alongside Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, where they beat compatriots Karatsev and Elena Vesnina in the final.
The Russian men’s team featuring Medvedev, Rublev, Karatsev and Evgeny Donskoy also won the 2021 ATP Cup held in February in Melbourne.
RUSSIAN KINGS AND QUEENS HOLD COURT
Russia now holds the most prestigious international team titles in both men’s and women’s tennis, after Sunday’s success in Spain followed the triumph in the Billie Jean King Cup (formerly known as the Fed Cup) by female Russian stars in November.
READ MORE: Russian female tennis stars hail ‘unbelievable’ cup win (VIDEO)