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Djokovic sets up tasty Sinner clash in Davis Cup semis

Djokovic sets up tasty Sinner clash in Davis Cup semis
November 24, 2023 Web Desk

MÁLAGA, Spain (AFP) - Novak Djokovic steered Serbia into the Davis Cup semi-finals as he beat Cameron Norrie 6-4, 6-4 to secure a 2-0 triumph over Great Britain on Thursday, setting up a mouth-watering clash with Italy's Jannik Sinner.

Italy defeated the Netherlands 2-1 and will face Serbia in the second semi-final on Saturday in Malaga, after last year's runners-up Australia face Finland Friday. World number one Djokovic played with his typical relentless quality and then rebuked British fans at the end of the match as they tried to down out his victory speech with drums.

After Miomir Kecmanovic edged Jack Draper 7-6 (7/2), 7-6 (8/6) in the opening singles rubber, 24-time Grand Slam winner Djokovic outclassed the resilient Norrie. Djokovic, who beat Sinner to win the ATP Finals on Sunday in Turin before flying to the Costa del Sol, celebrated his landmark 400th week at number one with a straight sets win -- before the captains agreed not to play the redundant doubles rubber.

Around 5,000 British fans outnumbered the Serbs at the sold-out Martin Carpena arena but the relentless Djokovic silenced them with his 21st consecutive Davis Cup singles victory. "Learn how to respect people, learn how to respect players, learn how to behave yourselves," Djokovic told a group of fans with a drum after, who he said had disrespected him the whole game.

'Disrespect' 

"The entire match pretty much, there was disrespect but it's something I have to be prepared for in the Davis Cup," Djokovic told reporters. "It's normal that fans step over the line and in the heat of the moment you react too and in a way show that you don't allow this kind of behaviour."

Djokovic's tennis did the talking as usual on the court, breaking to lead 3-2 in the first set and serving out, before doing so again in the first game of the second set, decisively. Djokovic said earlier this week winning the competition is one of his "greatest goals" in a year where he has lifted seven titles, including three Grand Slams.

The veteran star was part of Serbia's only Davis Cup triumph in 2010 and his country eliminated 10-time champions Britain, who faced an uphill struggle after Kecmanovic defeated Draper in two tie-breaks. Britain, without the injured Andy Murray and Dan Evans, were hoping Draper could give them a cushion.

Serbia captain Viktor Troicki selected Kecmanovic over the higher ranked Laslo Djere and the world number 55 raised his game in return. Draper staved off two set points to hold for 5-5 but unravelled in the first tie-break, double faulting twice and miscalculating a drop shot to hand the Serbian the set on a plate.

The near-flawless Kecmanovic triumphed in the second set when Draper lashed a forehand wide and then pushed a return into the net. "It was definitely very close, and just the atmosphere made it, I think, even more tense than it probably would be if it was like an ATP match or something," said the Serb.

Sinner stars 

Sinner drove Italy into the Davis Cup semi-finals, the world number four triumphing in both his singles rubber and in the decisive doubles. He dispatched Tallon Griekspoor 7-6 (7/3), 6-1 to level the tie after Botic van de Zandschulp edged Matteo Arnaldi 6-7 (6/8), 6-3, 7-6 (9/7) in the opening singles rubber.

Then Sinner and Lorenzo Sonego defeated Griekspoor and Wesley Koolhof 6-3, 6-4 to reach the semi-finals for the second year running in Malaga. The wildcard entrants last managed back-to-back Davis Cup semi-finals between 1996-98 when they qualified for three consecutively.

"We were under a lot of pressure and starting a little bit as the underdogs in this deciding doubles match but it was a huge pleasure for me to play with (Sonego), we have an incredible team," said Sinner.