Defending champions Spain loss to Russia and out of Davis Cup Finals

Defending champions Spain loss to Russia and out of Davis Cup Finals

Defending champions Spain were knocked out of the Davis Cup Finals after the Russian Tennis Federation clinched a dramatic late-night win in Madrid.

Needing a victory to reach the quarter-finals, Spanish pair Feliciano Lopez and Marcel Granollers lost 4-6 6-2 6-4 to Andrey Rublev and Aslan Karatsev.

Success in the deciding doubles meant the Russians – favourites to win the 18-team event – topped Group A.

Their win also ensured Serbia qualified as one of two best-placed runners-up.

There was a sombre mood inside the Caja Magica in the Spanish capital as the home team, without the injured Rafael Nadal, were beaten at about 00:45 local time on Monday.

The Russians, competing under the name of their federation after the nation was banned from international competition for doping violations,  are led by top-five ranked players Daniil Medvedev and Rublev.

World number five Rublev lost 2-6 6-3 6-4 to the 40-year-old Lopez in the singles before Medvedev, the world number two and US Open champion, levelled with a 6-2 7-6 (7-3) win over Pablo Carreno Busta.

Earlier on Sunday, Kazakhstan reached the last eight with a comfortable 3-0 victory over 2019 finalists Canada, while Croatia also went through at the expense of 28-time champions Australia.

Great Britain clinched their spot by fighting back to beat the Czech Republic to finish top of Group C.

Leon Smith’s team will face Group F winners Germany on Tuesday after they beat Austria later on Sunday.

Kazakhstan topped Group B after wins for Mikhail Kukushkin and Alexander Bublik in the singles, plus Andrey Golubev and Aleksandr Nedovyesov in the doubles.

They will now face Serbia, who are led by world number one Novak Djokovic and were given a helping hand by the Russians.

Croatia defeated Hungary 2-1, meaning Australia finished second in Group D and was eliminated.

Croatia, who won the title in 2018, will face Italy in the first quarter-final on Monday.

The United States was eliminated after losing to Colombia, who finished second in Group E behind Italy.

That was not enough to finish as one of the best runners-up, with Sweden already confirmed and Serbia soon to follow.

After last year’s event was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Davis Cup Finals returns for its second edition with a slightly different feel.

The 18-nation finals, self-styled as the ‘World Cup of Tennis’, was held entirely in Madrid when it launched in 2019, but this year stretches across three cities – Innsbruck and Turin joining the Spanish capital as a host.

The semi-finals and final will be held in Madrid from 3 to 5 December.

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