Jannik Sinner saved three match points in a thrilling win over world number one Novak Djokovic to pull Italy level at 1-1 against Serbia in the Davis Cup semifinals on Saturday, sending the match to the deciding doubles.
The winner will face Australia in the final on Sunday, with Djokovic and Sinner to return for the final doubles rubber.
“It was an incredible match, we were one point away from being out of this competition and we are still here,” said Sinner after the 6-2, 2-6, 7-5 win over 24-time Grand Slam winner Djokovic.
After Miomir Kecmanovic stormed back from a set down to dispatch Lorenzo Musetti 6-7 (7/9), 6-2, 6-1, Djokovic was aiming to complete the job and send Serbia into the final for the first time in a decade.
However, Sinner beat the 36-year-old for the second time in 11 days, snapping Djokovic’s run of 22 consecutive singles wins in the Davis Cup.
The world number four won the first of the trilogy in the ATP Finals group stage, but although Djokovic took the second to earn the title, Sinner delivered again in front of a full house at the Martin Carpena arena.
After an impenetrable performance in the victory over Cameron Norrie on Thursday, Djokovic created headlines by rowing with noisy British fans and then showing his fury at being asked to take a doping control test before that match.
Sinner, 22, earned the first break for a 2-1 lead after Djokovic doubled faulted and then sent a backhand volley into the net.
The Serbian started way below par and Sinner converted the second of two break points with a backhand down-the-line winner and then consolidated to fly into a 5-1 lead.
The Italian finished his superb first set with an ace, hitting 12 winners to the subdued Djokovic’s one, in only 38 minutes.
With the match seemingly under control, he let it slip, double faulting on the first break point he conceded to fall 3-1 behind.
Sinner allowed Djokovic back in and he ruthlessly capitalised, sealing the set with another break when Sinner whipped a forehand wide.
Finding the level
With his eye in, Djokovic made just three unforced errors in the second set to Sinner’s 10.
The Serbian, who has won seven titles this season including three Grand Slams, had the momentum.
Djokovic was on top in the third set with Sinner saving two break points and unable to pressure the Serb’s serve.
Sinner appeared to crack in the 10th game, sending two balls wide and then hitting the net to give up three match points, but then won five consecutive points to hold for 5-5. He then broke Djokovic and held comfortably to triumph.
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