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Saturday, March 25, 2023

Davis Cup: Austria lost both games against Croatia

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After Novak, Thiem also lost the match.
Image: GEPA pictures/ Matic Klansek (GEPA pictures)
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After Dennis Novak’s planned 3: 6.5: 7 defeat against the world number 23. Borna Coric, Dominic Thiem also had to admit defeat in the second single. The ex-US Open winner lost 3:6,6:7(2) to Borna Gojo, who was 22 places behind him in front of around 2,000 fans.

This means that the dream of a second promotion to the final round of the world group after 2021 is a long way off. Davis Cup captain Jürgen Melzer’s squad now has to win both the doubles and the two outstanding singles on Sunday (from 1 p.m.) in order to turn the tables. If this does not succeed, then, as in the previous year, a game must be played against relegation from World Group I in September.

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Dennis Novak sold well in the first match. After 1:58 hours he lost to the favorite world number 23. Borna Coric after 1:58 hours with 3:6.5:7.

“You can never be satisfied with a defeat, but I can definitely take a lot of positive things with me,” Novak summed up after his first duel with Coric. “It was little things that made the difference today. A few unforced mistakes from me too many, but I knew I had to take the risk,” said the Lower Austrian, explaining his tactics.

If he went straight back onto the pitch, he wouldn’t do much differently. “I can’t blame myself much. The few unforced errors come from a player like that because he’s incredible on defense, moves inhumanly. I knew I had to go to the lines.”

A tough baseline slugfest between world No. 23 and No. 144 was the order of the day from the start. In his twelfth international match for Austria, Novak was the first player to give up the serve at 1:3. At 1: 4, the 29-year-old from Lower Austria fended off two break chances from the Croatian and then had a rebreak chance at 2: 4. But in the end, the first sentence could not be saved.

The second round was far more competitive. The serve went up to 3:3, but in the seventh game the preliminary decision threatened when Novak, who was serving, fell behind at 15:40. The father of two fended off these two and also another breakball and made it 4:3. It remained balanced until 5:5 before Novak had to give up the service to make it 5:6. That was the decision in favor of the 2022 Cincinnati winner.

For Novak, the performance against the top-25 man also meant a boost in fitness-related confidence. He feels fitter than ever. “I’ve improved tremendously in the last two or three months. I’ve lost five kilos and changed my diet.” This fitness build-up was also successful in preparation for Tenerife in cooperation with the decathlete Dominik Distelberger, Novak said.

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