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By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Saturday, November 25, 2023


Jannik Sinner saved three match points sparking a three-game surge in shocking Novak Djokovic 2-6, 6-2, 7-5 to level Italy with Serbia in the Davis Cup semifinals.

Photo credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty

Teetering on the edge of elimination, Jannik Sinner stared down triple match point—and a fiercely focused world No. 1 across the net.

A defiant Sinner stormed back for a stunning roll reversal.

Djokovic to Detractors: Pipe Down

Sinner saved three match points sparking a three-game surge shocking Novak Djokovic 2-6, 6-2, 7-5 to level Italy with Serbia, 1-1, in the best-of-three-match Davis Cup semifinals.

Djokovic and Sinner will square off again in the decisive doubles with a trip to tomorrow's Davis Cup final on the line.

A calm Sinner slashed seven of his 12 aces in the final set, fighting off three break points in rallying from love-40 down to level the decisive set at 5-all.

An energized Sinner asserted his authority breaking Djokovic for 6-5 before serving out his third career win over a reigning world No. 1.

The 22-year-old Sinner was streak snapper for the second time this month ending Djokovic’s 21-match Davis Cup winning streak 11 days after he snapped the Serbian’s 19-match winning streak.

Sinner raises his 2023 record to 63-15, including a 19-2 mark indoors, in one of the most crucial comebacks of his career.

“I don’t know [how I won],” Sinner said. “It was a rollercoaster. I started off really well, second set he played much better than me and third set, I tried to serve really well and also on the match points down, I served well, except the first one, and happy to be still in competition, no.

“We were one point away from being out. Now, we have deciding doubles. We have to check who’s going to play and obviously we will give our best shot against them so let’s see what’s coming.”

Embraced by Italian teammates, Sinner’s remarkable resurgence sets up a decisive doubles match with a spot in tomorrow’s Davis Cup final on the line against Australia.

Djokovic and Miomir Kecmanovic will face Sinner and Lorenzo Sonego in the decisive doubles match.

It is Sinner’s second win in the last 11 days over world No. 1 Djokovic.

Tennis lovers, we have a rivalry—and Italy has a shot at history aiming for its first Davis Cup final since 1998.

On November 14th, Sinner slammed down a smash punctuating a thrilling 7-5, 6-7(5), 7-6(2) Turin triumph over Djokovic snapping the Serbian superstar's 19-match winning streak and scoring his second career victory over a world No. 1 at the ATP Finals.

Last Sunday, Djokovic avenged that defeat demolishing Sinner 6-3, 6-3 to capture his record seventh ATP Finals championship.

Earlier today, emerging Serbian hero Miomir Kecmanovic showed grit under severe pressure subduing Lorenzo Musetti 6-7(7), 6-2, 6-1 to stake Serbia to a 1-0 lead.

“Definitely found my best tennis when it mattered the most,” Kecmanovic said. “So I’m really proud of that. I’m really happy that I was happy to help my country again and hopefully we can get through to Sunday.”

World No. 55 Kecmanovic failed to serve out the opening set at 5-4, but shook off that disappointment and played with poise and determination. Kecmanovic reeled off nine games in a row against the Italian, who was hobbled by a left leg injury at the start of the third set.

“I'm happy for him, because he showed really a great level and really a great consistency till the end,” Musetti said. “Unfortunately at the beginning of the third set, I felt something. Of course was impacting my game mentally and physically.

“So I start to move slower and serve slower, so of course Miomir took advantage of it. That was pretty easy for him finishing the match.”

The Kecmanovic comeback win set the stage for the third Djokovic vs. Sinner showdown in the last 11 days.

Playing for your country in the Davis Cup cauldron can put even the most experienced champions to the burn test.

Seeing Sinner move closer to the baseline to return, Djokovic tried to hit a bigger second serve but double faulted to face a break point. When the No. 1 bumped a volley into net, Sinner scored the early break for a 2-1 lead 13 minutes into the second singles match of the day.

Driving the ball deep, Sinner used the fast surface speed to his advantage, confirming at 30 for 3-1.

Continuing to alter his return positioning, Sinner was giving Djokovic different looks in earning break points in the fifth game. Djokovic tried slicing a second serve wide, but Sinner smacked a backhand return winner down the line breaking with a bolt for 4-1.

The 22-year-old Sinner was playing off the front foot striking clean, crisp combinations charging to a 5-1 lead after 29 minutes.

An assertive Sinner was hammering drives on the rise. Sinner slammed successive backhand winners—one down the line and the other crosscourt—then zapped his third ace out wide capping a love hold to seize a one-set lead.

The 24-time Grand Slam champion looked befuddled by the 37-minute blitz reset in the second set.

To that point, Djokovic was calm and self-contained in the face of the barrage. Finding his backhand, Djokovic worked that wing beautifully to earn break point in the fourth game. A stressed Sinner tried going big on a second serve but double-faulted away the break and a 3-1 lead.

A dialed in Djokovic cruised through the confirmation hold for 4-1.

Navigating a tight deuce hold, Djokovic swept a crosscourt forehand winner for game point then pumped an ace off the edge of the service line. That sequence helped the Serbian superstar stretch his lead to 5-2 with a clenched fist.

Coaxing an errant inside-out forehand from Sinner, Djokovic broke to snatch the second set and force a decider after 80 minutes.

At that point, Djokovic seemed to have all the momentum, but a spirited Sinner simply refused to yield at crunch time.

In a punishing second game that popped with superb shotmaking and spiking tension, Sinner saved a break point with a serve winner wide.

Emboldened, Sinner stung successive aces down the middle holding to level after two games.

Facing break point at 3-4, Sinner showed no fear, streaming forward to tomahawk a forehand drive volley and deny it.

The 22-year-old Italian dug in for a hard-fought hold to level after eight games as some Italian fans stood raising carrots in tribute to their No. 1.

Sharp serving and shrewd anticipation carried Djokovic over the finish line.

Moving to cover the line before Sinner sent his forehand that direction, Djokovic darted a backhand pass that the Italian could not handle for triple match point.

Sinner saved the first match point with a clenched fist and erased the second by whipping a wide serve.

On the third match point, Sinner attacked behind a diagonal forehand and bumped a forehand volley winner. Sinner cranked his 11th ace storming back from the edge of elimination to level the set, 5-5.

That stirring stand sparked Sinner and rattled Djokovic, who put a drive into net to face a break point in the following game.

Djokovic tried the surprise serve-and-volley, but Sinner wasn’t fooled. The Italian lined up his forehand and flashed the precise pass down the line breaking with a leap toward his teammates with a 6-5 lead in hand.

In a rousing reversal, Sinner slashed his 12th ace down the T for double match point.

When Djokovic’s final return sailed, Sinner bellowed in triumph after a pulsating two hour, 32-minute victory.

Kecmanovic served for the opening set at 5-4, but Musetti broke back then saved break points holding for 6-5.

Scrambling all over the court, Musetti produce some magical shotmaking to take the tiebreaker and steal a set that had seemed to be in Serbia’s grasp.

It was an extremely tough set,” Kecmanovic said. “I thought we both played well and it came to just one or two points. So it’s a positive thing for me that I was able to reset and play the way I did.”

Defending brilliantly, Kecmanovic ran down everything in some side-to-side sprints forcing Musetti to play one final volley that the Italian netted. Kecmanovic broke for a 4-2 second-set lead.

The Serbian stood tall during a tense seventh game, drawing a running forehand error to confirm the break for 5-2.

A fired-up Kecmanovic exuded confidence drawing a floated forehand and netted backhand to break again and snatch the second set. Kecmanovic reeled off four games in a row to force a final set after one hour, 53 minutes of play.

A flagging Musetti wasn’t getting the same lift from his legs on serve and wasn’t as quick coming out of the corners chasing Kecmanovic drives.

Carrying that momentum into the decider, Kecmanovic cleverly held the ball on his strings, waited for Musetti to move then shoveled a backhand pass down the line breaking for a 2-0 third-set lead.

At that point, the Italian seemed to be struggling with a left leg issue.

A weary Musetti wasn’t covering the court as quickly. Kecmanovic spun a backhand winner capping a love hold to go up 3-0.

The 27th-ranked Musetti took treatment for the leg issue while down love-4.

Nothing could stop Kecmanovic from the finish line. Kecmanovic cranked a forehand winner down the line then tosses his Dunlop racquet aside and fell flat on his back in elation at a two hour, 24-minute victory.


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