Novak Djokovic celebrates after winning the ATP Cup final on Sunday. AFP
Novak Djokovic swept past long-time rival Rafael Nadal in a battling display at the ATP Cup final on Sunday to lay down a marker ahead of the Australian Open.
The Serbian world number two blasted the top-ranked Spaniard off court 6-2 in the first set before a much tighter 7-6 (7/4) second set.
It left the final of the inaugural team event finely poised at 1-1 after Spain's reliable Roberto Bautista Agut caned Dusan Lajovic 7-5, 6-1.
Nadal and Djokovic were both expected back on court to play the decisive doubles rubber that will decide which country wins the 24-nation tournament.
"Every time I get to play Rafa we get to play a lot of exciting points. There were some incredible exchanges today," said Djokovic.
"I started off the match perfectly, everything worked. I'm just really glad I held my nerve in the end."
Djokovic, warming up for his bid to win an eighth Australian Open crown this month, went into the clash at Sydney's Ken Rosewall Arena leading their head-to-heads 28-26. But the statistics did not tell the full story.
The Serb had won nine of their past 12 contests and been dominant over the years on hard courts — including a comfortable win against Nadal in the Australian Open final last year.
He showed his intent immediately, breaking Nadal in the opening game when the Spaniard netted a backhand, and there was no let-up.
His driving groundstrokes and deft touches proved too much with Nadal's serve constantly under siege as Djokovic delivered a booming ace to wrap up the set.
Nadal lifted to another level in the second set and it was an intense affair, with Djokovic saving five break points in a crucial sixth game.
It went to a tiebreaker where a crunching backhand down the line from the Serb gave him the break he needed to complete the victory.
Superstars Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal said Thursday there was little point in having two men’s team tennis competitions so close together and suggested the new ATP Cup
Tennis’ innovative new team championship kicks off the men’s 2020 season on Friday, with Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic among those looking for a winning start ahead of the first
Rafael Nadal suffered an upset singles loss but made amends in the doubles to keep Spain alive at the ATP Cup Friday, with Novak Djokovic also surviving a scare before rallying
Holder Rafa Nadal will miss the French Open after failing to regain full fitness from a hip injury suffered at the Australian Open in January, the 14-times Roland Garros winner said on Thursday, adding 2024 could be the final year of his career.
Sheikh Abdullah Bin Hamad Bin Saif Al Sharqi, Chairman of the Emirates Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation, Anis Binous, Chairman of the Organising Committee, and a number of dignitaries attended the final of the three-day championship, which was held at Binous Gym.
The seventh-ranked Jabeur, a three-time Grand Slam finalist, saved her best performance of the tournament for the final and raced to victory in 78 minutes.
Chasing 346 for victory, New Zealand lost an early wicket before Ravindra (97) and Williamson (54) put on 137 to put their team on course and they achieved the target with 6.2 overs to spare in Hyderabad.