Spain Opens ATP Cup Title Bid With Win Over Australia

Pablo Carreno Busta (photo: ATP Cup)

STARNBERG, February 2, 2021

Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from Spain’s opening match against Australia on Tuesday at the ATP Cup in Melbourne due to a bad back. This was announced by the World No. 2 via Twitter.

Nadal’s fellow team members Roberto Bautista Agut and Pablo Carreno Busta, however, did not let Spain feel the absence of the 20-time Grand Slam champion, beating Alex de Minaur and John Millman in their respective singles matches to settle the tie.

“Everybody knows that to have Rafa on the team is a pleasure. It’s a privilege to be in the team with him. We can learn a lot of things staying around him. He has been fighting 20 years in a row and we are there to complete the team, to be there and to fight. I think Pablo and I today did a great job,” said Bautista Agut, who defeated de Minaur 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 in two hours and 20 minutes.

“Obviously it’s very important to us to win the first match… Rafa couldn’t play, so I am here to try to help my team,” said Carreno Busta after his 6-2, 6-4 victory over Millman. “Obviously the first match of the season is always difficult, but I think that I played really a good match, feeling very comfortable on court, so [I am] happy for the victory. Of course now, [we need to] continue fighting, because they play at home and they’re a really good team.”

Serbia defeats Canada 2-1

Novak Djokovic kicked off his season in style with a 7-5, 7-5 win over Denis Shapovalov on Rod Laver Arena before returning to lead Serbia to a doubles victory alongside Filip Krajinovic over Canada that secured their ATP Cup opener 2-1 in Group A.

“Filip Krajinovic was the key,” said Djokovic. “The way he played today is phenomenal. He came out [with] very solid returning. He found his serve, great rhythm. [He] just played some really key shots in the second set when we needed it the most.”

While Djokovic, now unbeaten in 10 ATP Cup matches, enjoyed a great start Down Under, World No. 3 Dominic Thiem of Austria slumped to a 6-2, 6-4 defeat to Italy’s Matteo Berrettini in his first match.

There was more joy for Berrettini as he returned for doubles duty teaming-up with Fabio Fognini to trounce Thiem and Dennis Novak 6-1, 6-4 and claim a 2-1 victory for Italy in Group C.

In the evening session, World No. 4 Daniil Medvedev and World No. 8 Andrey Rublev also won their singles matches to help Russia to a 2-1 victory over Argentina in Group D.

Medvedev edged past World No. 9 Diego Schwartzman 7-5, 6-3 after Rublev cruised past Guido Pella 6-1, 6-2 in 60 minutes.