Djokovic leads Serbia to victory at inaugural ATP Cup

Ruben Hill
January 12, 2020

Their match in the final of the Australian Open previous year saw Djokovic dish out an imperious straight sets thrashing, and it is a stark reality that he has now won nineteen consecutive sets against his rival on a hard court.

"So we need to find a way to fix it and we need to find a way to make a big deal with ITF and ATP to create a big World Team Cup competition, not two".

The final of the new 24-team competition went down to a deciding-doubles match after Djokovic prevailed over Rafael Nadal in the second singles tie to level proceedings between the teams. "I think that's a confusion for the spectators, and we need to be clear in our sport".

The inaugural ATP Cup saw its pool matches split between Sydney and Brisbane on the Australian east coast, and Perth on the west coast, which is where Spain was initially stationed.

The introduction of the ATP Cup to the southern hemisphere calendar has created the most gruelling and entertaining start to the Australian tennis season in memory, as the world's best male players chase prize money, ranking points and a team trophy rather than play in grand slam warm-up events. "The respect for the players should be there, and at some point I think the respect with small part of the crowd have been not there".

The two players met twice in 2019, with Djokovic prevailing in the Australian Open final and Nadal winning the Masters 1000 final in Rome.

World number two Djokovic leads the head-to-heads 28-26, including beating his arch-rival in the Australian Open final a year ago.

He broke in the next game and then again for 3-1, with Djokovic smashing his racquet as Medvedev took the set to level the match.

Full of energy, his serve was on fire and he was winning the baseline rallies, but Nadal weathered the onslaught and finally won a break point, converting to take the second set.

"I had my chances".

Nadal started to generate waves of his own as the second set played-out and none more so than the tennis he produced to claw himself back from 15-30 at 5-5 all. After a challenging opener against Kevin Anderson, he had two comfortable wins against Cristain Garin and Gael Monfils that put him and Team Serbia in the quarter-finals undefeated.

But, adopting a similarly aggressive game plan to Belgium's David Goffin, who downed Nadal on Friday night, de Minaur was outstanding, hitting victor after winner to put the 19-time major champion on the back foot.

He said the support from the Serbian community in Sydney was "off the charts". I'm really glad to have held my nerve in the end.

"I'll remember this experience for the rest of my life as definitely one of the nicest moments in my career", said Djokovic.

The super Serb has won 19 consecutive sets against the 19-time major champion on hard courts since Nadal last beat Djokovic on the surface in the 2013 US Open final. "They think it's about football or this stuff, and atmosphere in tennis is different, no?" "I don't say that because when I'm playing a tournament, I'm not thinking about the next one".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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