Novak Djokovic continued his hard court domination of rival Rafael Nadal, easing past the World No. 1 6-2, 7-6(4) in the final of the ATP Cup in Sydney.
Djokovic’s win, his 9th straight win over Rafa on hard courts (19 consecutive sets), leveled Serbia’s tie with Spain at 1-all.
While a tired Nadal opted out of the deciding doubles, Djokovic teamed with Viktor Troicki to defeat Nadal’s replacement Feliciano Lopez and Pablo Carreno Busta 6-3, 6-4.
In the doubles, Spain led 3-1 before Serbia took six straight games to pace the win.
“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 last 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.
“I’ve never experienced an atmosphere like this on a tennis court… You carried us to victory and we owe you a big, big thanks,” he added. “We are part of an individual sport where we play by ourselves. But even when we were playing singles it never felt like it was only you out there. You always have a team in your corner giving you strength and focus. This was the highlight of the competition, along with the support of fans and the flags.”
A dejected Nadal talked about the decision to sit for the doubles.
“I have been playing a lot of tennis the last couple of days,” Nadal said. “My teammates have been playing great yesterday. My level of energy is a little bit lower than usual, because I played long yesterday, very long before yesterday, very long in the last day,” Nadal said.
“So it’s a team decision, and we believe in our team. That’s why we had success in the past, because we were able to give the confidence to the rest of the players, and we give the confidence to Feliciano and Pablo.”
In the opening match of the tie, Roberta Bautista Agut got Spain on the board first with a 7-5, 6-1 win over Dusan Lajovic.
Djokovic then jumped out on Nadal early breaking in the opening game. Nadal had chances to break in the middle of the second, but never could get through as he finish 0-for-5 on break opportunities.
“I was trying to take away as much time as possible from him,” stated Djokovic. “I was serving very well, definitely the best serving match I had in the tournament. Just extremely satisfied with the way I performed.”
Djokovic heads to Melbourne as the clear favorite after six singles wins at the ATP Cup. Nadal, who made the final last year, goes in having lost two of his last three.
“I did the most difficult thing: changed a little bit the dynamic of the match after that first set. Happy the way that I was able to compete,” Nadal said.
“I had my chances. I was very close. Not happy with the loss, of course, but the feeling in that second set is positive.”
SUNDAY ATP CUP FINAL RESULTS
Serbia d Spain 2-1
R1: Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) d Dusan Lajovic (SRB) 75 61
R2: Novak Djokovic (SRB) d Rafael Nadal (ESP) 62 76(4)
R3: Novak Djokovic/Viktor Troicki (SRB) d Pablo Carreno Busta/Feliciano Lopez (ESP) 63 64
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