Russia beats Croatia to win Davis Cup after 15-year wait
Russia's 15-year wait for a Davis Cup title ended Sunday after another clutch performance from Daniil Medvedev.
Medvedev capped his amazing year with a 7-6 (7), 6-2 win over Marin Cilic in the second singles match to give Russia an insurmountable 2-0 lead over Croatia and its first Davis Cup title since 2006.
"It feels amazing," Medvedev said. "But I'm more happy for the team than for myself. We have an amazing team, amazing atmosphere. I'm happy to be part of it and bring the points we need."
It was the fifth consecutive straight-set victory in the Davis Cup for the No. 2 Medvedev, who three months ago defeated Novak Djokovic to win the U.S. Open for his first Grand Slam title.
"Pretty amazing two weeks," Medvedev said. "It's never easy to come here at the end of the season but they were some of the best weeks of my career."
Andrey Rublev earlier had beaten Borna Gojo in straight sets to put the Russians ahead at the Madrid Arena.
Russia's other Davis Cup title was in 2002. Croatia also was seeking its third title after triumphs in 2005 and 2018.
"I still can be proud with the effort," Cilic said. "We are just sorry we couldn't get one point to get the doubles guys in the court."
The doubles, where Croatia has the top-ranked pair, were not played.
Russia, which had four top-30 players on its team, completed 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 had been the Czech Republic in 2012.
The triumph also capped a special week for Russia 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 Russian team is officially being called RTF (Russian Tennis Federation) in the competition amid its ongoing doping suspension in international sport.
After a tight first set, Medvedev broke serve twice in the second against the 30th-ranked Cilic to comfortably clinch the victory.
"It was a tough match all day long," the 25-year-old Medvedev said. "The tiebreak is a matter of a few points. I made a double-fault on the set point that was probably a big mistake, but I'm happy that today it was enough to win. It was a really tough match."
Rublev had 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 Lopez 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.
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.
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.