Berlin, 12 January 2020 (dpa/MIA) – Serbia beat Spain 2-1 to win the inaugural ATP Cup in Sydney on Sunday after Novak Djokovic claimed consecutive victories in singles and a deciding doubles tie.
The reigning Davis Cup champions Spain were ahead in the series following Roberto Bautista-Agut’s opening 7-5, 6-1 success against Dusan Lajovic.
World number two Djokovic then maintained his unbeaten streak at the event by dispatching number one rival Rafael Nadal 6-2, 7-6 (7-4) to level the tie and guarantee 750 singles ranking points for himself.
In the deciding doubles, Djokovic returned to pair up with Viktor Troicki, and together, they crowned Serbia as the first ATP Cup champions with a 6-3, 6-4 triumph over Spaniards Pablo Carreno Busta and Feliciano Lopez.
“I’ll remember this experience for the rest of my life,” said Djokovic in an on-court interview. “I’ve been very fortunate and blessed to have an amazing career in 15 years but playing for my country, my friends, you can’t match that, it’s too special.”
The 16-time grand slam winner added the victory was a “huge team effort,” but it was left to him to keep the tie alive against Nadal after Serbia had fallen behind.
Djokovic broke Nadal’s serve twice to surge 5-1 ahead en route to serving out the first set with three straight aces.
“Every time I play Rafa, we get to play a lot of exciting points,” Djokovic said. “We had some incredible exchanges.”
Nadal piled the pressure on Djokovic in the second set, but he could not take advantage of the five break points he had against his number two rival.
“I had my chances, I was very close,” said the 19-time major winner Nadal.
“(I’m) not happy with the loss, of course, but happy (with) the way I compete.”
Djokovic missed two break points at 5-5, which would have allowed him to serve for the match, but he sealed victory in the tie-break.
A punishing backhand pass helped him create a 6-4 gap before Nadal conceded defeat with a netted return after one hour and 55 minutes.
Nadal was supposed to return with Pablo Carreno Busta against Viktor Troicki and Djokovic in the doubles but was replaced by Feliciano Lopez.
Nadal has had a tough journey to the final with matches finishing into the early hours of the morning, particularly against Belgium in the quarter-finals, where he played for almost five hours in two successive matches.
“It’s a team decision, and we believe in our team. That’s why we had success in the past,” said Nadal.
“My level of energy is a little bit lower than usual, because I played long yesterday, very long before yesterday, very long in [Perth] the last day.”
In the deciding doubles, Djokovic and Troicki earned the first break to go 5-3 up before securing the first set lead.
“I want to thank Novak for playing with me again,” Troicki said.
“We’ve been playing together since we were nine. This is a special moment for me to share this court with him.”
The Serbians broke again early in the second for a 2-0 lead, and that would be enough to collect the trophy as Djokovic delivered the final serve, which Carreno Busta netted to confirm Serbia as the champions.
The match finished just after 1 a.m., and in victory, Djokovic invited his fellow Serbians and local Australians to celebrate.
“The crowd has been amazing tonight. There is a lot of people here in Sydney. If you guys are still up, we are ready to party!”