ATP Cup 2020: The player of the tournament is a complete surprise
The inaugural ATP Cup finished today with Serbia defeating Spain in an exciting final 2-1, to win their first title since the 2010 Davis Cup. Whilst the results tell us that Serbia were the best overall team, does that necessarily mean the player of the tournament played for them?
This article will argue that it the player of the tournament was, in fact, Spain's Roberto Bautista-Agut. Though Spain was unable to defeat Serbia in the final, it was to no fault of Bautista-Agut, who went undefeated throughout the whole tournament.
Though it would be easy to say Novak Djokovic was the player of the tournament or even Rafael Nadal, that would undermine how important Bautista-Agut was form the Spaniards. The world number 10 played Spain's initial singles match in every tie they played and won every one of them without dropping a single set. In the group stages, he dropped just 9 games over his 3 matches and just 16 games throughout the entire knockout stages, where he faced tougher opponents, including the likes of Australian Nick Kyrgios.
It must be noted that due to his matches being the first of each tie, Bautista-Agut always played under significant pressure. Moreover, due to his victories, Rafael Nadal always began his matches knowing that even if he lost, Spain still had a doubles match to fall back on. Furthermore, whilst Bautista-Agut wasn't the most talented or highest-ranked player to compete in the ATP Cup he was undoubtedly the most consistent player of the tournament and didn't drop a single set throughout his 6 matches.
Per the rules of the tournament, the highest-ranked players of each nation face-off in the second game and the lower-ranked player's face-off in the first match of each tie. In light of this, one could argue the likes of Nadal and Djokovic faced tougher players in their singles matches than Bautista-Agut did. However, when one relativises the three players in accordance to their rankings, as the top 2 players in the world they should be expected to beat everyone else.
This wasn't the case for Nadal, however, who struggled throughout the knockout stages and even lost to David Goffin in the quarter-finals. Though Djokovic won all of his matches, he was pushed to 3 sets on more than one occasion throughout the knockouts.
As aforementioned, Bautista-Agut wasn't troubled in the same way despite facing equally as challenging opponents when one relativises it to his ranking and skill-level. Spain probably wouldn't have reached the final had it not been for Bautista-Agut giving them a lead in every tie and it is not on his fault that they were unable to win the final against Serbia.
Although there were several better players than Bautista-Agut in the ATP Cup, none were as consistent or important to their nations than he was for Spain and for that reason he firmly deserves to be hailed as the player of the tournament.
Modified 12 Jan 2020, 22:55 IST