SYDNEY (Reuters) – Rafa Nadal, the world's number 1, overcame a temporary slip on his way to victory in the ATP Cup on Saturday, shortly after Australian open champion Novak Djokovic fought a tough battle against South African Kevin Anderson, who had recovered had survived.
Novak Djokovic of Serbia gestures during his solo game against Kevin Anderson of South Africa on the second day of the ATP Cup tennis tournament at the Pat Rafter Arena in Brisbane, Australia, January 4, 2020. AAP Image / Dave Hunt
The $ 15 million ATP Trophy, attended by 24 nations over ten days in Perth, Brisbane and Sydney, is a solid platform for the world's best players to prepare for this month's Australian Open, which will take place from the 20th January in Melbourne.
Nadal was broke in his first service game but found his groove immediately and another break from Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili was enough to win the opening game.
He interrupted his opponent twice to jump a 5-2 lead in the second round, but had to take two consecutive breaks under his own steam, which increased the set to 5: 5. Nadal paused again and secured a draw for his team with a 6: 3: 7: 5 win in Perth.
Djokovic, who defeated Nadal in the Australian Open final for the seventh record at Melbourne Park last year, had to go through with his 7-6 (5) 7-6 (6) win against Anderson and won the draw for Serbia in Brisbane.
33-year-old Anderson returned to court for the first time since Wimbledon and only played five tournaments in 2019 due to elbow and knee injuries.
The runner-up at Wimbledon in 2018, when he lost the final against the Serbs, fell to a 4-1 deficit in the opening set but fought back brilliantly to make up for the situation.
Djokovic soon lost control and got into a lengthy argument with the chair umpire after being denied the opportunity to challenge. At the next point, he furiously warned the crowd about disturbing a rally.
"What a start to the year," said Djokovic. “I started very well, I was 4-1 and had some breakpoints, but then Kevin increased his game.
“He was on fire this evening – I think the quality of the tennis was pretty high. I was very happy with the way I weathered the storm. "
Fourth in the world Dominic Thiem did not have a good start in preparing for the first Grand Slam of the year in two weeks when he dropped 7-6 (4) 2-6 6-3 against Borna Coric from Croatia.
Coric's victory over second place in the ATP final 2019 was enough for Croatia, when the American open champion Marin Cilic previously beat Dennis Novak 6-7 (4-6: 4-6-4).
Previously, seasoned pair Gael Monfils, who finished in the top 10 in 2019, and Benoit Paire won their individual games to help France in Brisbane against Chile.
Argentina demanded a double from Maximo Gonzalez and Andres Molteni to host the draw against Poland after Guido Pella and Hubert Hurkacz won 1-1 against Poland.
Despite the new canopy over the Ken Rosewall Arena and the air conditioning, the players in Sydney had to deal with difficult conditions in which the temperatures reached 44 degrees Celsius.
Japan, without Kei Nishikori, had an easy day in Perth when Yoshihito Nishioka and Go Soeda competed against Pablo Cuevas (Uruguay) and Martin Cuevas (Uruguay).
Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; Edited by Christian Radnedge