Serbia and Kazakhstan faced off Wednesday in Madrid with a spot in the Davis Cup semifinals on the line. In the end, World No. 1 Novak Djokovic led Serbia to a 2-1 quarterfinal victory.
Serbia is looking for its second victory in this tournament after previously winning in 2010. Kazakhstan has already matched its best Davis Cup finish. It previously reached the quarterfinals five times, most recently in 2018.
Croatia and Germany have already clinched a berth in the semifinal round. Croatia will face Serbia, while Germany awaits the winner of the Russian Tennis Federation vs. Sweden winner.
Serbia vs. Kazakhstan Results
Mikhail Kukushkin (KAZ) def. Miomir Kecmanovic (SER): 7-6 (5), 4-6, 7-6
Novak Djokovic (SER) def. Alexander Bublik (KAZ): 6-3, 6-4
Nikola Cacic/Novak Djokovic (SER) def. Andrey Golubev/Aleksandr Nedovyesov (KAZ): 6-2, 2-6, 6-3
2021 Davis Cup Schedule
Dec. 2 (Quarterfinal): Russian Tennis Federation vs. Sweden
Dec. 3 (Semifinal): Croatia vs. Serbia
Dec. 4 (Semifinal): Germany vs. Russian Tennis Federation/Sweden winner
Dec. 5 (Final): Semifinal Winner No. 1 vs. Semifinal Winner No. 2
Mikhail Kukushkin came up clutch for the Kazakhstan team again on Wednesday. He prevailed in a three-set thriller over Miomir Kecmanovic that took three hours to complete.
Kecmanovic had four match-point opportunities in the third set, but he was unable to take advantage of any of them. Kukushkin's return game was on point to keep him alive when it seemed like he was on the verge of defeat.
Davis Cup @DavisCup
Back from the brink 🤯🇰🇿<br><br>Two match points erased in style <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/DavisCupFinals?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#DavisCupFinals</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/byRakuten?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#byRakuten</a> <a href="https://t.co/ZCgzoM9RKw">pic.twitter.com/ZCgzoM9RKw</a>
Kukushkin also made great use of his first serves. The 33-year-old won 64 of 95 first-serve opportunities in the match. He has now won each of his past two singles matches after falling to Sweden's Elias Ymer in group play.
Trailing 1-0 in the match standings, Serbia got back on track thanks to the efforts of Novak Djokovic. The world's top-ranked player made quick work of Alexander Bublik. He only lost seven games in the two sets combined and finished the match in 77 minutes.
Bublik did show some fight with an overpowering serve that helped him rack up 11 aces. But his inability to consistently place the ball where he needed to also led him to commit seven double-faults.
The second set was tense for Djokovic early, as he was clinging to a 4-3 lead on serve. He won four consecutive points to win his fifth game and put the match away his next time on serve.
Djokovic has now won 18 consecutive Davis Cup singles matches dating back to 2010.
Serbia needed more from him on Wednesday, however, with the score knotted at one following the two singles matches.
Djokovic paired with Nikola Cacic in a doubles match against Andrey Golubev and Aleksandr Nedovyesov, with the winner sending their country onto the semifinals.
Serbia won the final five games of the first set after breaking Kazakhstan twice for a 6-2 victory.
However, a major turning point in the second set went Kazakhstan's way as Golubev and Nedovyesov won a break point on their fourth opportunity in the fourth game to go up 3-1. Their supporters made their presence known.
Davis Cup @DavisCup
Turning it up 🥁<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/DavisCupFinals?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#DavisCupFinals</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/byRakuten?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#byRakuten</a> <a href="https://t.co/6IJXz4Trnz">pic.twitter.com/6IJXz4Trnz</a>
Kazakhstan broke Serbia once more to close the set with its own 6-2 victory.
The third set was all Serbia, who scored 16-of-20 points when it was serving in the third set.
Kazakhstan struggled to keep pace, and Serbia took a 3-2 lead after winning a break point.
Kazakhstan persevered and later held off two break (and match) points while serving down 5-3, but Serbia emerged victorious on its third break-point try.
Davis Cup @DavisCup
🇷🇸 IDEMO 🇷🇸<br><br>Serbia clinches a fifth Davis Cup semi-final, finishing off Kazakhstan 6-2, 2-6, 6-3.<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/DavisCupFinals?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#DavisCupFinals</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/byRakuten?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#byRakuten</a> <a href="https://t.co/ZzcmuHI1pL">pic.twitter.com/ZzcmuHI1pL</a>
Serbia and Croatia will now face off on Friday in Madrid. Marin Cilic headlines the Croatian team, which defeated Austria and Hungary in group play before beating Italy in the quarterfinals.