Novak Djokovic and Serbia started the last decade by winning a major international tennis tournament. And now, they’ve started the new one the same way as they claimed the inaugural ATP Cup.
After just over a week of global tennis action with the top tennis nations battling it out, Serbia — led by the World No. 2 Djokovic — came out on top against World No. 1 Rafael Nadal and Spain.
It was quite a way to get everyone ready for the new tennis season, and especially the Australian Open, which kicks off next week.
But before looking ahead to the first Grand Slam of the season, allow SBOTOP to run down all the top news items that took place during what was a successful first staging of the ATP Cup.
Serbia top Spain to win inaugural tournament
Serbia are the first-ever ATP Cup champions. The Serbs topped Spain 2-1 in the final to claim the inaugural title.
Djokovic was responsible for both of the team’s wins. After Dusan Lajovic lost to Roberto Bautista Agut, Djokovic topped Nadal in their singles matchup to level the tie. He then partnered with Viktor Troicki to defeat Pablo Carreno Busta and Feliciano Lopez in the decisive doubles match which sealed the title.
“I’ll remember this experience for the rest of my life as definitely one of the nicest moments in my career,” Djokovic said. “I’ve been very fortunate and blessed to have an amazing career the past 15 years, but playing for the team, playing for the country with some of my best friends for a long long time, you can’t match that. That’s just too special.”
Serbia went 3-0 in their Group A ties against South Africa, France, and Chile, and won seven of nine matches overall. They then swept past Canada in the quarter-finals and Russia in the semis to reach the final.
This is Serbia’s first international tournament win since they claimed the 2010 Davis Cup, where Djokovic also had a starring role.
Djokovic outduels Nadal in marquee matchup
Without a doubt, the most anticipated match of the final tie — and the tournament as a whole — was Djokovic going up against Nadal.
These two usually meet in the latter stages of tournaments, particularly in Grand Slams. And if Nadal won, Spain would clinch the title, so there were still huge stakes involved.
But Djokovic came to his country’s rescue as he produced a dominant 6-2, 7-6(4) straight-sets win to keep Serbia alive as they went on to win the title.
“I was trying to take away as much time as possible from him. I was serving very well, definitely the best serving match I had in the tournament. Just extremely satisfied with the way I performed,” Djokovic said.
Djokovic came out strong against Nadal, immediately breaking the Spaniard’s serve in the very first game. He also broke Nadal in the seventh game to take the first set with relative ease.
As expected, Nadal battled back in the second set and put up a much tougher fight. But buoyed by the strong Serbian support in Ken Rosewell Arena, Djokovic powered through to win the tiebreak and the match.
Djokovic has now won nine straight matches against Nadal on hard court and extended his head-to-head advantage over Nadal to 29-26.
Young Russians make their mark
2019 was a big year for Daniil Medvedev and Karen Khachanov, who both broke into the top 10 rankings. Medvedev, in particular, had a breakout year as he made it to the final of the US Open and also qualified for the year-end ATP Finals in London.
The two young Russians have now gotten the new year started on a positive note as they led their country all the way to a semi-final berth while making ATP Cup 2020 highlights along the way.
Russia topped Group D with a perfect 3-0 record in ties and won eight of nine matches overall. They then swept Argentina in the quarter-final round to set up a semi-final matchup with Serbia.
Unfortunately, the odds weren’t in their favour in that tie, and so it proved as Khachanov and Medvedev both lost their singles matches.
However, the fact that they went so deep in the tournament is a clear indication that Russian tennis’ future is bright with those two set to lead the way for years to come.
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