Tennis

ATP Cup | Djokovic survives Anderson test

Relieved! Novak Djokovic celebrates his hard-fought win over Kevin Anderson.

Relieved! Novak Djokovic celebrates his hard-fought win over Kevin Anderson.   | Photo Credit: PATRICK HAMILTON

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Nadal and Spain have an easy outing against Georgia

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic kick-started their build-up to the Australian Open with straight-set wins at the ATP Cup on Saturday, but World No. 4 Dominic Thiem slumped to defeat.

Top-ranked Nadal had little trouble with Georgia's Nikoloz Basilashvili, racing to a 6-3, 7-5 victory, while long-time rival Djokovic was given more of a test by South Africa's Kevin Anderson before overcoming him 7-6(5), 7-6(6).

Their wins ensured Spain and Serbia clinched their ties at the inaugural 24-nation team event, where the countries are split into six groups across Sydney, Brisbane and Perth.

France, Argentina, Croatia and Japan also began their tournament in style, winning their ties to join day one victors Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Norway, Russia and Australia.

“I'm super, super happy to be here in Perth for first time in my life. It's an amazing arena and a great crowd,” said Nadal. “It was tough first match of the season, not an easy start. But I think I played a great game.”

Earlier, his teammate Roberto Bautista Agut crushed a hapless Aleksandre Metreveli 6-0, 6-0.

Serbian superstar Djokovic needed to produce some of his best tennis to see off the big-serving Anderson, admitting it was a testing encounter.

His teammate Dusan Lajovic outlasted Lloyd Harris 3-6, 7-6 (7/4), 6-3.

Austria's Thiem forecast this week that 2020 would be the year that the vice-like hold of Djokovic, Nadal and Roger Federer on Grand Slam titles would come to an end.

Thiem, who won five titles last year, had six break points in the third set against Croatia's Borna Coric, but failed to convert any of them.

“It's really nice to beat him because at the end of last season I was not playing well and this will give me a lot of confidence,” said Coric, ranked 28 and who suffered six losses in a row in late 2019.

Fellow Croat Marin Cilic, a finalist at the 2018 Australian Open, used his experience to down Austria's Dennis Novak 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-4, and ensure Croatia won the tie in Sydney.

The most dominant win of the day came courtesy of Japan, who are without the injured Kei Nishikori but crushed Uruguay 3-0 in Perth, dropping just 15 games across their two singles and one doubles rubbers.

Yoshihito Nishioka routed higher-ranked Pablo Cuevas 6-0, 6-1 and veteran Go Soeda thrashed Martin Cuevas, Pablo's younger brother, 6-1, 6-3 before a tighter doubles encounter.

French duo Gael Monfils and Benoit Paire, both in the top 25, led their country to a 2-1 Group A win over Chile, while Argentina scraped past Poland by the same score.

But it was a struggle for the South Americans with Polish number one Hubert Hurkacz upsetting world number 14 Diego Schwartzman in three sets.

Guido Pella won the other singles before Maximo Gonzalez and Andres Molteni teamed to down Hurkacz and two-time Grand Slam winner Lukasz Kubot in the deciding doubles.

The results:

In Sydney: Group E: Argentina 2 bt Poland 1 [Guido Pella bt Kamil Majchrzak 6-2, 2-6, 6-2; bt Diego Schwartzman lost to Hubert Hurkacz 4-6, 6-2, 6-3; Maximo Gonzalez & Andres Molteni bt Hurkacz & Lubasz Kubot 6-2, 6-4.

Croatia 3 bt Austria 0 [Marin Cilic bt Dennis Novak 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-4; Borna Coric bt Dominic Thiem 7-6(4), 2-6, 6-3; Ivan Dodig & Nikola Mektic bt Oliver Marach & Jurgen Meltzer 7-6(4), 6-2.

In Brisbane: Group A: France 2 bt Chile 1 [Benoit Paire bt Nicolas Jarry 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-3; Gael Monfils bt Cristian Garin 6-3, 7-5; Nicolas Mahut & Edouard Roger-Vasselin bt Jarry & Garin 7-5, 6-2.

Serbia 3 bt South Africa 0 [Dusan Lajovic bt Lloyd Harris 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-3; Novak Djokovic bt Kevin Anderson 7-6(5), 7-6(6); Nikola Cacic & Viktor Troicki bt Raven Klaasen & Ruan Roelofse 6-3, 6-2.

In Perth: Group B: Japan 3 bt Uruguay 0 [Go Soeda bt Martin Cuevas 6-1, 6-3; Yoshihito Nishioka bt Pablo Cuevas 6-0, 6-1; Toshihide Matsui & Ben McLachlan bt Cuevas & Ariel Behar 7-6(5), 6-4].

Spain 3 bt Georgia 0 [Roberto Bautista Agut bt Aleksandre Metreveli 6-0, 6-0; Rafael Nadal bt Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-3, 7-5; Pablo Carreno Busta & Feliciano Lopez bt Aleksandre Bakshi & George Tsivadze 6-3, 6-4.

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2020 1:44:04 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/tennis/atp-cup-djokovic-survives-anderson-test/article30480393.ece

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