Serbia dominated Great Britain in the quarter-finals of the Davis Cup in Málaga, securing a 2-0 victory on Thursday evening to advance to the semifinals.
Miomir Kecmanovic put on an impressive performance to secure the first point for Serbia in the crucial opening match between the second seeded singles players. He defeated Jack Draper in a thrilling match with scores of 7-6(2) and 7-6(6). The world’s top player, Novak Djokovic, then sealed the victory for Serbia by easily defeating Cameron Norrie 6-4, 6-4.
Although Djokovic easily secured the tie, it was not without some controversy as he engaged in multiple arguments with fans. In one instance, he blew a kiss to a British fan after the first set, but later criticized a group of British fans who were drumming loudly during his post-match interview. He expressed frustration with their lack of respect towards players and people, telling them to be quiet.
The opening encounter represented one of the biggest moments of Draper’s young career – a significant test of his ability to handle the nerves, pressure and an extremely tough opponent on a big occasion with Djokovic looming in the second match. Since the Serbia team lacks a strong doubles player, the opener was also a monumental occasion for Kecmanovic, and the Serb played inspired tennis, barely putting a foot wrong for nearly two hours.
Draper stated that he had been preparing diligently and his daily training has been going smoothly. However, he fell short in today’s match. He believes he gave his all mentally, but there were a few areas where he could have done better. He acknowledges that his opponent played well and his coach, Leon Smith, delivered a positive message reminding him that he gave it his best effort. Draper recognizes that these things happen in sports and he will continue to work hard.
Given the opportunity to select from three players within the top 50 rankings, Laslo Djere, Dusan Lajovic, and Viktor Troicki, captain of the Serbian team, decided to go with the player who was ranked the lowest. Despite being just 24 years old, Kecmanovic was a former junior No 1 and has the potential to surpass his more experienced teammates. In the face of pressure, he had just as much to demonstrate as Draper did.
Upon entering the packed Palacio de los Deportes, which was filled with 9,000 people, mostly from Britain, Draper was not intimidated by the atmosphere. He quickly served three aces in a row.
However, Kecmanovic displayed better focus and skill. With his well-rounded abilities as a baseliner and his strong physical abilities, the Serbian player was able to handle Draper’s speed and spin. He effortlessly changed direction on both sides of the court and enhanced his dominance from the baseline with accurate serving. Kecmanovic’s reliable returns immediately forced Draper to feel the heat on his own serve.
The British player persevered through many challenging and close service games in order to make it to the tie-break. However, once in the tie-break, Draper struggled and ultimately lost. Two tense double faults were detrimental as Kecmanovic maintained a strong and focused performance to win the set.
After a disappointing start, Draper bounced back and played confidently. He controlled the set and put up a strong fight during the tie-break. However, Kecmanovic remained composed and maintained his performance until the end.
Draper acknowledged that he experienced some fluctuations in his physical state, as nerves tend to do. However, he did his best to overcome them and stay in the match. Despite creating opportunities for himself, he admits that he was ultimately defeated by a superior player.
One week following his successful fourth consecutive victory at the ATP Finals, Djokovic effortlessly continued his winning streak by closing off the tie in a calm and expected manner.
In both sets, Djokovic quickly broke Norrie’s serve and faced little difficulty in winning his own service games until the end of each set. With his accurate serving, strong returns, defensive skills, and baseline control, the top-ranked player dominated over Norrie. Although Norrie put up a good fight and played well, he lacked the abilities to consistently challenge Djokovic.
Smith, the captain of Great Britain’s Davis Cup team, expressed that they thoroughly enjoyed the year.
Cameron brought to my attention last night that we should reflect on our journey to Bogota, passing through it, and then heading to Manchester. Although we were defeated in the quarter-finals, our record this year stands at four wins and one loss, which is impressive. Overall, it has been a good year.
On Saturday, Serbia and Italy will face off in the semi-finals, with the ATP Finals contenders, Djokovic and Jannik Sinner, set to compete against each other for the third time in the past 11 days.
On Thursday, Sinner maintained his impressive performance by guiding Italy to the semi-finals with a 2-1 victory against the Netherlands.