RTF's Daniil Medvedev Defeats Croatia's Marin Cilic to Win 2021 Davis Cup Finals

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVDecember 5, 2021

Russian Tennis Federation's Daniil Medvedev competes against Croatia's Marin Cilic during their Davis Cup tennis finals at Madrid Arena in Madrid, Spain, Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
AP Photo/Manu Fernandez

The Russian Tennis Federation is the 2021 Davis Cup champion.

The RTF defeated Croatia in Sunday's finals in Madrid. Andrey Rublev set the tone with a victory over Borna Gojo in the first singles match, while Daniil Medvedev outlasted Marin Cilic in the second singles match to clinch the title.

  • Andrey Rublev def. Borna Gojo; 6-4, 7-6 (5)
  • Daniil Medvedev def. Marin Cilic; 7-6 (7), 6-2

Thanks to the singles performances, the doubles match didn't have an impact on the outcome.

Davis Cup @DavisCup

2002, 2006, 2021 🏆🏆🏆<br><br>RTF are World Champions for the third time! 🎾<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/DavisCupFinals?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#DavisCupFinals</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/byRakuten?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#byRakuten</a> <a href="https://t.co/LcJjse9frn">pic.twitter.com/LcJjse9frn</a>

It was a highly anticipated showdown, with the two teams looking to move up the all-time list of Davis Cup winners. Both countries entered play with two titles, and the RTF pulled even with the Czech Republic and Germany in seventh place with a third crown.

Despite the loss, it was Croatia that entered Sunday's championship clash with plenty of momentum because of its impressive win over Serbia in the semifinals.

Croatia emerged from Group D with wins over Australia and Hungary before it advanced past Italy in the quarterfinals. Yet it was the win over the Serbian side that stood out since that meant a showdown with 20-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic.

While Djokovic defeated Cilic in one singles match, Gojo outlasted Dusan Lajovic in the other before Croatia won the doubles match with Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic beating Djokovic and Filip Krajinovic.

Yet the RTF would be no pushover after winning Group A with victories over Spain and Ecuador before wins over Sweden in the quarterfinals and Germany in the semifinals.

Rublev kept that momentum rolling right out of the gate on Sunday with impressive serving.

Davis Cup @DavisCup

First to strike ⚡️<br><br>Rublev fires a couple rockets to launch 4-3 🆙<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/DavisCupFinals?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#DavisCupFinals</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/byRakuten?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#byRakuten</a> <a href="https://t.co/cXrEciFjr6">pic.twitter.com/cXrEciFjr6</a>

Davis Cup @DavisCup

"One of the best of the entire competition" 🎇<br><br>Rublev roars to the opener 6-4 with unreal points like THIS <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/DavisCupFinals?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#DavisCupFinals</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/byRakuten?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#byRakuten</a> <a href="https://t.co/OgtsCHEqWr">pic.twitter.com/OgtsCHEqWr</a>

In fact, he didn't even allow a single breakpoint opportunity for Gojo and won a stunning 92 percent of his first-service points. That meant even one timely break could swing the match, and he earned his sole break in the first set before winning the second with a tiebreak because nobody broke serve.

The tiebreak drama continued into the second match, as Medvedev defeated Cilic in the first set using one even though nobody earned a break.

It was a similar development to the first match, with the reigning U.S. Open champion using seven aces in the first set alone and a powerful serve to grab the initial lead.

From there, Medvedev earned the first break point of the match early in the second set to create a seemingly insurmountable deficit given the way he was serving.

It turned out to be just that, and he cruised to the 7-6 (7), 6-2 victory.