Photo : @DavisCup
Despite not being allowed to compete under their flag, Russian tennis players have had an amazing year.
International competitions have been dominated by the Russians this season so it is fitting that the year ended with another title for the world’s largest country, or technically for their tennis federation.
Here’s what you need to know:
In case you missed it: The Russians have arrived
A month after the ladies of the Russian Tennis Federation claimed the trophy at the Billie Jean King Cup, their male counterparts followed suit by winning the Davis Cup with a sweep of Croatia in the final.
The Russians were always a favourite at the Finals, being the only team that boasted not just two Top 10 players, but two Top 5 players in their lineup, and they lived up to their billing.
World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev went undefeated, winning all five of his matches in straight sets, including a title-clinching win over Marin Cilic. He was backed up by No. 5 Andrey Rublev, who despite some shaky matches early in the tournament, settled down in the late rounds and picked up straight-set wins in the semis and final.
It is Russia’s third title at the Davis Cup, all of them coming in the 21st century, but first since 2006. The Davis Cup and Billie Jean King Cup wins compliment a three-medal performance at this summer’s Olympics in Tokyo.
Croatia were a slightly surprising finalist, as they benefited from a completely unexpected performance from world No. 276 Borna Gojo, who went 3-1 in singles, including wins in the quarter and semi-finals.
Those wins proved critical as Croatian No. 1 Marin Cilic lost all his singles matches in the knockout round, but thanks to Gojo’s wins, doubles powerhouses Nikola Metkic and Mate Pavic were able to win the decisive ties.
The big upset came in the semi-finals when the Croatians took out the Novak Djokovic-led Serbians, with Gojo claiming a comeback singles win over Dusan Lajovic before Metkic and Pavic clinched the win after Cilic lost to Djokovic. The singles No. 1 was on the losing end of the decisive doubles match.
What to watch: Enjoy the offseason
The ATP Tour is officially done for the year after the Davis Cup Finals. The first event of 2022 will begin on New Year’s Day in Sydney, Australia with the ATP Cup.
However, the WTA still has one 125 event each of the next three weeks. This week, the tour passes through Angers, France for the Open Angers Arena Loire. Players in action include Daria Yastremska, Shuai Zhang, Kristina Mladenovic and Vera Zvonareva.
Under the Radar:
Last week may have been a quieter one in the tennis world, but Canada’s Katherine Sebov still made some noise on the ITF Tour by picking up the doubles title at the W25 Jablonec Nad Nisou Open in the Czech Republic.
She and Polish partner Maja Chwalinska upset the top seeds 11-9 in the match tiebreak in the quarter-finals and went on to defeat an all-Czech pair in straight sets in the final.
While the main ATP Tour is done, the Challenger Tour is still going and Steven Diez, fresh off his appearance at the Davis Cup Finals, will be competing this week Maia Open in Portugal.
On the ITF circuit, nine Canadians will be competing at the M15 and W15 events in Cancun this week.
You can follow the Canadians in action every week here.