Novak Djokovic could not prevent Serbia missing out on the Davis Cup final after he and Filip Krajinovic lost in the decisive doubles against Croatia.
Djokovic beat former US Open champion Marin Cilic in the singles, levelling the semi-final tie after Croatia’s Borna Gojo won against Dusan Lajovic.
Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic, the world number ones, put Croatia into the final with a 7-5 6-1 win in Madrid.
Croatia will play either the Russian Tennis Federation or Germany on Sunday.
With the expertise of Mektic and Pavic proving crucial against the two Serb singles players, Djokovic said it illustrated the need for his nation to find a strong doubles pairing if they are to win the Davis Cup for a second time.
“We definitely need to improve our doubles part of the team.
We need to have a doubles team that is constantly playing together,” said Djokovic, who was instrumental in Serbia’s 2010 win.
“Otherwise it’s going to be a Mount Everest for us to climb every time we play like this.
Croatia won the first singles rubber when world number 279 Gojo fought back to win 4-6 6-3 6-2 against Lajovic, stretching his 100% record to three victories in a dream Davis Cup Finals for the 23-year-old.
Djokovic levelled the best-of-three tie by earning his 19th consecutive Davis Cup singles victory, fighting off eight break points against Cilic before winning 6-4 6-2.
That teed up a intriguing doubles match which featured the world’s best pairing and its leading singles player.
Mektic and Pavic, who won the Wimbledon and Olympic titles in a dominant 2021 season, had won all three of their Finals matches in straight sets and again showed their quality to do the same against the Serbs.
Davis Cup: Novak Djokovic and Serbia lose to Croatia in Madrid