Britain’s thrilling triumph over France in Manchester set the stage for their first appearance in the revamped Davis Cup’s final eight.
However, their journey was cut short as Miomir Kecmanovic defeated Jack Draper 7-6 (2) 7-6 (6), and Djokovic secured a 6-4 6-4 victory over Cameron Norrie, leading Serbia to a jubilant semi-final against Italy.
With Djokovic’s formidable presence, Britain’s aspirations relied on Draper winning the initial rubber. The match started over two hours later than scheduled due to Italy and the Netherlands’ overrunning match.
The Palacio de Deportes Martin Carpena witnessed a near-capacity crowd of around 5,000 British fans, providing an authentic Davis Cup atmosphere.
Dan Evans, recovering from a calf injury, observed from the stands as Kecmanovic’s inspired performance led Serbia to success. Despite Draper’s resilience, Kecmanovic’s dominance and two tie-break victories secured Serbia’s triumph.
Draper Faces Must-Win Pressure
Djokovic has a remarkably impressive Davis Cup record and has only lost six of his 61 matches thus far this season. He has only lost once since the Wimbledon final. He has now won 21 straight matches and dropped just four sets in his singles career; the only singles match he lost in that time was during his retirement.
“That’s seemingly a must-win match for me,” said Draper. “It’s definitely a tough challenge to go out there knowing that there is a lot more pressure on me to win the match.”
“That’s the kind of pressure that, if I want to be a top player, I have to cope with and have to perform under. It’s tough not to get the win today. I gave it all I had mentally. I didn’t do a few things as well as I wanted to, but he played a great match.”
Norrie, with a challenging history against Djokovic, faced heightened pressure as he had only secured one set in their prior three encounters.
Despite enduring a tough period since the spring clay-court swing, he became Captain Leon Smith’s sole choice after Andy Murray withdrew due to a minor shoulder injury.
Norrie, though not delivering a poor performance, found himself in a firefight from being broken at 2-2 in the opening set, battling fiercely, including saving five break points at 1-3 in the second set.
Djokovic’s exceptional serving skills and composed play allowed him to secure victory. While Serbia moves closer to the trophy, Britain, needing a fresh start, faces the February qualifiers unless an unlikely wild card grants access to September’s group stage.