Djokovic sends Serbia into Davis Cup semi against Italy

AFP

Novak Djokovic steered Serbia into the Davis Cup semi-finals with a straightforward 6-4 6-4 win over Britain's Cameron Norrie to give his team a winning 2-0 lead on Thursday.

The 36-year-old world number one, looking to complete a remarkable year by helping his country win the Davis Cup for the second time, outclassed Norrie to become his country's most successful Davis Cup player.

Serbia will face Italy on Saturday after Jannik Sinner inspired his team to a comeback win over the Netherlands, the world number four winning his singles and a decisive doubles.

Britain, missing the injured Andy Murray and Dan Evans, had banked on Jack Draper winning the opening singles against Serbia's Miomir Kecmanovic and their strong doubles partnership of Joe Salisbury and Neal Skupski.

But world number 55 Kecmanovic produced a brilliant performance to beat Draper 7-6(2) 7-6(6) in a fierce battle.

Norrie then needed to overcome record 24-times Grand Slam champion Djokovic for the first time in his career to keep the tie alive.

That never looked likely, however, as Djokovic, who won three of the year's four Grand Slam titles and last week's ATP Finals for a record seventh time, dissected the world number 18.

A single break of serve was enough for Djokovic in the opening set, the Serb silencing the raucous British fans with the clinical brilliance of his tennis.

Norrie dropped serve early in the second set but hung on grimly as he attempted to stall Djokovic's march.

ACE FLURRY

It was futile in the end, though, as Djokovic wrapped it up with a flurry of aces to keep Serbia on course for a repeat of their 2010 triumph when Djokovic and his teammates famously shaved off their hair after victory over France in the final.

Djokovic lost his cool with Britain's fans as they tried to drown out his post-match interview, telling them to "shut up and show some respect".

"It's always a great emotion to play for your country even if after a long season you are feeling it in the legs," he added.

He now has a record 44 wins for Serbia in the competition, surpassing Nenad Zimonjic.

Neither Kecmanovic or Djokovic faced a single break point.

Earlier, in the Martin Carpena Arena which has seen big crowds for Final Eight, Italy kept alive their hopes of a first Davis Cup title since 1976.

The Dutch moved ahead as Botic van de Zandschulp won a titanic tussle against Matteo Arnaldi 6-7(6) 6-3 7-6(7).

But the in-form Sinner, beaten by Djokovic in the ATP Finals in Turin on Sunday, beat Tallon Griekspoor 7-6(3) 6-1 to send the tie to a deciding doubles.

Sinner teamed up with Lorenzo Sonego to beat Griekspoor and Wesley Koolhof 6-3 6-4 as Italy reached back-to-back semi-finals in the men's team competition.

"It means a lot to me," Sinner said. "But more importantly we're through to the semi-finals. It's the first time I can experience this."

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