ATP

Djokovic hurting as Germany edge out Serbia in ATP Cup, Nadal could return for Spain

By Sports Desk February 05, 2021

Novak Djokovic said it was "a tough one" to take after Serbia's hopes of retaining the ATP Cup title were ended by defeat to Germany.

The world number one scored a tense 6-7 (3-7) 6-2 7-5 victory over Alexander Zverev in their singles rubber, levelling the match after Jan-Lennard Struff beat Dusan Lajovic in three sets.

Zverev and Struff then teamed up in doubles to net a 7-6 (7-4) 5-7 10-7 win over Djokovic and Nikola Cacic.

The singles workout and win sets up the eight-time Australian Open champion well for the start of that grand slam next week, which was the consolation Djokovic could take from defeat.

Speaking about his singles clash with Zverev, Djokovic said: "It was anybody's game really. He was a set up, a couple points here and there in the beginning of the second. I just returned well when I needed to and closed out the match.

"It's never easy playing against Sascha [Zverev] when he's in form, and he's in really good form. We pushed each other to the very limit, and I'm glad that I had such a battle with him.

"It's unfortunate we lost the tie. That's what this competition is all about. It's about the team, not about winning one match, a singles match. Yeah, it's a tough one."

Germany advance to face Russia in the semi-finals on Saturday, with Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev a formidable combination awaiting them.

Spain secured a shot at Italy in the second semi-final, despite a 2-1 defeat to Greece on Friday.

The Spanish team needed just one win in the group-stage match to advance, and that predictably came as Pablo Carreno Busta, ranked 16th by the ATP, beat world number 462 Michail Pervolarakis.

His 6-3 6-4 success could not be matched by team-mate Roberto Bautista Agut, who fell to a 7-5 7-5 defeat against Stefanos Tsitsipas, while Spain retired from the doubles rubber after one game, giving Greece a 2-1 success in the tie.

It remains to be seen whether Rafael Nadal will be fit to play any part in the semi-final, with the 20-time grand slam champion having been absent so far in the campaign due to a back injury.

"He's working very hard to recover his best feelings," said Spain captain Pepe Vendrell.

"Obviously he couldn't play any matches during the week. It's a situation that we have to study. But day by day he's improving. We will see [on Saturday] if he can play."


AWAY FROM THE ATP CUP, WAWRINKA ABANDONS

In the Murray River Open, Stan Wawrinka withdrew from his quarter-final with Jeremy Chardy after beating Australian Alex Bolt in a tough three-set match earlier in the day. Corentin Moutet, Dan Evans and Felix Auger-Aliassime joined Chardy in the last-four line-up.

Evans defeated Borna Coric, who had eliminated Australian hope Nick Kyrgios in his previous match.

All ATP and WTA tournaments are being played at Melbourne Park this week.

Thursday's play was cancelled due to a COVID-19 case affecting a worker from a hotel that accommodated quarantining players, and that meant Friday's schedule was packed.

The Great Ocean Road Open also saw players needing to win two matches in a day to reach the semi-finals, with Karen Khachanov, Thiago Monteiro and the Italian pair of Jannik Sinner and Stefano Travaglia coming through.

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  • Zverev seals second Madrid title with comeback win over Berrettini Zverev seals second Madrid title with comeback win over Berrettini

    Alexander Zverev ended a three-year wait for an ATP Masters 1000 title as he rallied to beat Matteo Berrettini in the Madrid Open final on Sunday.

    The German had to do it the hard way at La Caja Magica over the past week, having previously seen off five-time winner Rafael Nadal and Dominic Thiem en route to the showpiece.

    He was in a spot of bother against his Italian opponent at the end of a gripping first set that Berrettini took in a tie-break, Zverev's efforts in coming back from 5-0 down and earning a set point ultimately for nothing.

    Berrettini eventually sealed the lead with his fourth set point but Zverev played with renewed focus at the start of the second, taking full advantage of a succession of mistakes with the score at 4-4 to force a decider.

    Zverev's greater endurance in rallies then paid dividends early in the third as he broke to go 3-2 up, and Berrettini only won one more game as the German triumphed 6-7 (10-8) 6-4 6-3 to win the tournament for a second time.

    Speaking afterwards, he said: "It is great [to win this title], especially after losing my last three finals I played at Masters 1000 events. This is definitely special and I just want to enjoy this one.

    "[Berrettini's] game style showed it all. I didn't play anybody this week that can serve 235[km/h] on clay and serve 230km/h kick serves.

    "It definitely was a different match and I am extremely happy right now."

    On competing at the Internazionali d'Italia next, he added: "Rome is also an event I like and enjoy, so I hope I can perform [in] the same way as I did here and we will see how it goes there. I feel awesome."

    This was the first time Zverev has beaten three or more top-10 players in a single competition since his ATP Finals victory in 2018.

  • Golubic clinches L'Open 35 de Saint-Malo title Golubic clinches L'Open 35 de Saint-Malo title

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    A finalist in Lyon and Monterrey in March, the world number 84 claimed a second career WTA125K singles title after a 6-1 6-3 triumph in 67 minutes.

    Golubic held her nerve at the key moments in a close contest, landing 75 per cent of first serves and saving five of six break points.

    Paolini threatened to make more of a contest in the second set after finally breaking, but the Italian dropped serve with her very next game and saw momentum slip away.

    It was Golubic's first title since defeating Jennifer Brady at this level at Indian Wells two years ago.

  • Berrettini takes downs Ruud to set up Zverev showdown in Madrid Berrettini takes downs Ruud to set up Zverev showdown in Madrid

    Matteo Berrettini will take on Alexander Zverev in the Madrid Open final on Sunday after overcoming Casper Ruud 6-4 6-4 in the last four. 

    Eighth seed Berrettini has enjoyed a superb debut tournament in the Spanish capital, the 25-year-old dropping just one set on his way to becoming the first Italian to make the Madrid Open final. 

    Berrettini, who won the Serbia Open last month, is just the third Italian ATP Masters 1000 finalist since the series was established in 1990, after Fabio Fognini and Jannik Sinner. 

    "It's a great, unbelievable feeling, especially coming from Monte Carlo where I wasn't feeling that good," Berrettini said in quotes reported by the ATP website. 

    "I won in Belgrade and now I'm in the final, so I'm really looking forward to playing against Sascha [Zverev]. I hope I enjoy it tomorrow the way I enjoyed tonight.

    "I saw him [Zverev], he's playing really good. He's solid. He moves well. For his height, he's really good. He serves well. I mean, he's in the final. He beat Rafa [Nadal] and Dominic [Thiem], probably the best players on clay.

    "It's going to be a challenging match, but I'm in the finals. I guess the best two guys are going to play each other."

    Berrettini returned supremely throughout Saturday's match, nullifying Ruud's usually potent serve, and believes his aggressive approach was key to victory.

    "My serve is my weapon, but today I think I returned a lot and I put pressure on him," Berrettini said. "I was just playing more aggressive. He's kind of like me, he likes to run around the forehand and play with spin. But I guess today I was playing better than him.

    "The other time he beat me, so it's always a great fight against him. He reached three semi-finals in a row so he was feeling confident. I guess that's why I'm maybe even more happy with my win today."

    In the earlier semi-final, Zverev followed up his famous win over home favourite and 20-time grand slam champion Rafael Nadal in the previous round by defeating Dominic Thiem.

    Austrian Thiem had won the last four meetings between the two, including in last year's Australian Open semi-final and the US Open decider, where he came from two sets down to win in an incredible fifth-set tie-break.

    However, Zverev was not to be denied this time, a 6-3 6-4 result keeping him on course for a repeat of his 2018 triumph at the event in the Spanish capital.

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