Novak Djokovic’s Serbia are out of the Davis Cup after a dramatic quarter-final loss to Russia in Madrid.
The world number two levelled the tie with an impressive 6-3 6-3 victory over Karen Khachanov in singles after Andrey Rublev had thumped Filip Krajinovic 6-1 6-2.
With the tie coming down to a deciding doubles rubber, Djokovic was subbed in to partner Viktor Troicki against Khachanov and Rublev, but it was the Russians who came out on top 6-4 4-6 7-6 (8).
There was more concern, meanwhile, about Djokovic’s troublesome right elbow.
Having tweaked it during the ATP Finals but insisted it was nothing to worry about, Djokovic winced in pain and dropped his racket after hitting a backhand at 4-2 in the second set of the doubles.
He received treatment at the next change of ends before taking a medical timeout later in the set.
The second set brought what had been a somewhat flat encounter – not helped by another underwhelming crowd – to life.
Troicki, in particular, was furious with two decisions by the umpire after erroneous line calls and argued his case vociferously.
Djokovic, meanwhile, whacked a ball angrily into the crowd after one call contributed to his serve being broken, but the Serbians won the set to level the match when Khachanov double-faulted.
With no breaks of serve in the third set, it all came down to a deciding tie-break. Serbia had three chances to clinch victory but could not take any of them, with Troicki dumping a volley horribly long on the last.
Russia were not so charitable, needing just one match point to book a semi-final date with Canada on Saturday.
Khachanov and Rublev, who have played all the rubbers between them this tournament in the absence of US Open finalist Daniil Medvedev, fell to the court in an embrace at the moment of victory, while Troicki whacked his foot in anger.