ATP Cup 2020: Serbia defeat Spain to win their maiden title
What's the story?
Serbia outlasted Spain in a closely fought final of the inaugural ATP Cup in Sydney. Although, Spain managed to win the first of the three ties, Serbia was able to bounce back and win, largely thanks to a dominant display of tennis by Novak Djokovic, particularly when facing arch-rival, Rafael Nadal.
In case you didn't know
This is Serbia's second major tennis title and their first in a decade. Despite not being a huge tennis nation, historically, Serbia has proven itself as a force to be reckoned with and has produced several world-class tennis players over the last 15 years, not only Novak Djokovic.
The heart of the matter
Going into the final it was hard to say who was the favourite and the three matches demonstrated what a close affair it was. The final began with a singles match between Spain's Bautista-Agut and Serbia's Dusan Lajovic.
Although the scoreline was fairly one-sided, the first set was a rather tense affair and one got the sense that both players were aware of how important this first match was for their respective sides.
Nevertheless, after a couple of breaks of serves from both players, Bautista-Agut, who has been arguably Spain's most consistent performer during the tournament, took the set 7-5, before running away with the second 6-1, to give Spain a 1-0 lead over Serbia.
The second match was unquestionably the pinnacle of the tournament, as it saw the world number one and two battle it out in the most important game of the ATP Cup. With Serbia needing to win the match to keep their dreams alive, Novak Djokovic needed to be at his brilliant best.
And at his brilliant best he was and he floored Rafael Nadal in the first set, breaking the Spaniard's serve twice to take it 6-2. The second set was a lot closer, nevertheless, Djokovic was the superior player compared to a flatter potentially tired Nadal and he took that set 7-6(4) and subsequently the match to level the overall scores at 1-1.
Questions of Nadal's fitness were raised after his loss to Djokovic and they were promptly answered when Nadal withdrew from the doubles game due to body fatigue. This was a major blow for the Spanish and a major boost for the Serbs.
Nevertheless, the Spanish started strongly and broke the Serbian pair's serve. This would not last long, however, as Djokovic and his doubles partner, Viktor Troicki, broke back to level the first set at 3-3.
This caused a momentum shift as Serbia went on to take the first set 6-3 and then the second set 6-4, to give them not only the match but the title as well. Spain's final performance was arguably defined by Nadal's fitness, who had struggled during the knockout stages, nevertheless, this should not take away from Serbia who were the strongest side of the tournament and the deserving winners.