Top 3 ATP players in January 2020
The inaugural ATP Cup was the new addition to the first month of the 2020 tennis calendar which had three ATP 250 events culminating with the first Grand Slam of the year - the Australian Open.
The ATP Cup featured 24 teams in six groups of four teams where each team played the other in a 'tie' consisting of 2 singles and 1 doubles. The 6 group winners and the 2 best runner-up teams then squared up for the quarter-finals, semi-finals, and the final where a Novak Djokovic inspired Serbia downed Rafael Nadal's Spain.
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Besides the ATP Cup, the month saw ATP 250 tournaments in Doha, Auckland, and Adelaide in the lead up to the Australian Open where defending champion Novak Djokovic lifted a record-extending 8th title at the tournament to return to the top of the world rankings.
On that note, let us have a look at the 3 top performers in the first month of action in the 2020 ATP calendar.
#3 Roberto Bautista Agut | 8 wins in 9 matches
In a dazzling start to the 2020 season, Roberto Bautista Agut outshone his illustrious compatriot Rafael Nadal by winning all 6 of his singles matches, without dropping a set, at the inaugural ATP Cup.
Despite Bautista Agut's heroics, Spain came up short against a Novak Djokovic-inspired Serbia in the final where Serbia won one singles tie (Djokovic beat Nadal) and the doubles to become the first winners of the newest team competition on the tennis calendar.
The Spaniard arrived at the Australian Open, where he made his maiden Grand Slam quarter-final (losing to Stefanos Tsitsipas) last year, full of confidence. Bautista Agut opened his campaign with a straight-set win over compatriot Feliciano Lopez before dropping a set against American Michael Mmoh in the next round.
But there would be no repeat run to the quarter-finals, as one of the form guys on tour came unstuck in the third round against 2018 finalist Marin Cilic. Despite taking the first set in a tie-break, the Spaniard won a combined 4 games in the next two sets before winning the fourth to force a decider where his comeback came to an end.
#2 Andrei Rublev | 11 wins in 12 matches
The first month of the 2020 season saw young Russian Andrei Rublev doubling his singles title tally.
Rublev won 4 matches in Doha without dropping a set to win his 3rd career singles title before winning the Adelaide title to become the first player since Dominic Hrbaty (2004) to win 2 titles in the opening 2 weeks of a season.
At the Australian Open, Rublev beat Christopher O'Connel and Yuichi Sugita respectively in the first two rounds to become the first player to reach 10 wins in the season. A four-set win over David Goffin helped Rublev make his first 4th round appearance at the Australian Open where a straight-set defeat to eventual semifinalist Alexander Zverev ended his perfect start to the season.
#1 Novak Djokovic | 13 wins in 13 matches
The Serb won all his 6 singles and both doubles matches as Serbia beat Spain to lift the inaugural ATP Cup.
Djokovic then turned his attention to the Australian Open. The Serb dropped a set in the first round against German Jan-Lennard Struff before beating Roger Federer in the pair's 50th career meeting to reach a record-extending 8th Australian Open final.
Despite taking the opening set against first-time Australian Open finalist Dominic Thiem, Djokovic found himself trailing 2 sets to 1. Refusing to yield his Melbourne turf without a fight, the Serb did not lose serve in the remainder of the match to become the first player since Mats Wilander in 1988 to win the Australian Open title from 2 sets to 1 down in the final.
In the process, the Serb extended his unbeaten start to the season to 13-0, win streak in Australian Open semis and finals to 16-0, joined Nadal (12 at Roland Garros) and Federer (8 at Wimbledon) as the only players to win 8 titles at a major, and returned to the top of the world rankings as top-seed Nadal fell in the quarter-finals.