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.

Related items

  • Federer hopes Djokovic, Nadal and Murray 'can keep playing forever' Federer hopes Djokovic, Nadal and Murray 'can keep playing forever'

    Roger Federer expressed his hopes for former rivals Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray to "keep playing forever", insisting the ATP Tour is "better with them".

    Federer called time on his glittering career in 2022, while the other three - who between them formed tennis' 'big four' - appear not to be far away from joining him in retirement.

    Nadal, who will miss Wimbledon to focus on his "last Olympics", and Murray are expected to hang up their racquets this year, with the latter revealing in February that he does not "plan on playing much past this summer".

    Meanwhile, 24-time major winner Djokovic is also likely be absent from the grass-court major, having undergone knee surgery following his withdrawal from the French Open last week. 

    Now in their late 30s, all three players are certainly at the twilight of their remarkable careers.

    But Federer, who says the quartet all now "get on super well" after years of rivalry, hopes they are not finished just yet.

    "I really don't think there are any words of advice that I can give him," he told BBC Sport. "Retirement is so deeply personal. When you take that decision, everybody is in a completely different circumstance.

    "We've gone through similar things, but I'm too far away to give advice. If [Andy] called me up, I'd be happy to answer some questions. He's had this massive hip issue and what he is doing is inspirational.

    "I hope Andy, like Rafa and Novak, can keep playing forever, like a fan. The tour is better with them. I was watching Roland-Garros last week, and I was like: 'Wow, they're so good - I used to do that too!'

    "It's tricky sometimes and there’s definitely moments when you don't like a certain opponent, but then you like him so much. It's important to remember this as a player - it is just tennis and, in the end, we can be normal.

    "You see us being super friendly with each other after the rivalry, and we get on super well."

  • Raducanu cruises into Nottingham Open quarter-finals after dominant Snigur win Raducanu cruises into Nottingham Open quarter-finals after dominant Snigur win

    Emma Raducanu cruised into the quarter-finals of the Nottingham Open with a straight-sets victory over Daria Snigur on Thursday.

    After making her return from injury in the previous round, Raducanu made light work of the match, winning 6-2, 6-2 as her preparation for Wimbledon continued.

    Despite a bright start from Snigur, which saw her break the Briton's serve in the opening game, she could not hold off Raducanu's challenge as she reeled off six games in a row to win the first set.

    With her confidence back, Raducanu secured two breaks in the second set to ease through and will face Francesca Jones or Ashlyn Krueger in the next round.

    Data Debrief: Raducanu easing back to full threat

    After a slightly shaky first round against Ena Shibahara, Raducanu looked a confident figure on the court as she dispatched Snigur.

    Her serve proved a highlight as she served 11 aces in the second set, and had a 70 per cent win rate on her first serve throughout the match.

  • Top seed Pegula out of Libema Open as De Minaur progresses Top seed Pegula out of Libema Open as De Minaur progresses

    Top seed Jessica Pegula bowed out of the Libema Open following a three-set defeat by Aleksandra Krunic in s'Hertogenbosch.

    The world number five was ousted 7-6 (7-3) 6-7 (3-7) 6-4 by the 2018 winner of this event, who claimed the fifth top-10 victory of her career and advanced to the quarter-finals.

    Now ranked 400th in the world, Krunic recovered from an earlier break in the opening set to force a tie-break, in which she won five straight points to draw first blood.

    The Serbian also cancelled out a break before heading into another tie-break, but Pegula reeled off five points on the spin this time to level.

    The American was appearing in her first tournament since April, having missed the European clay-court season with a rib injury.

    However, she saw two break-point opportunities go begging in the opening game of the deciding set, and Krunic crucially broke in game three before holding out for an impressive victory. 

    Later on, Alex de Minaur booked his place in the quarter-finals of the competition after a straight-sets victory over Zizou Bergs. 

    The world number nine had to work for his victory over the Belgian, overcoming his opponent 7-5 6-4 to earn his first triumph on a grass court this year. 

    Bergs matched his opponent in the opening exchanges, but the Australian would eventually prevail, winning a break-point and following up without dropping a point in the final game. 

    De Minaur would again endure a difficult set to confirm the victory as Bergs threatened to level the encounter, but the number one seed again showed his class, finishing the contest in style. 

    De Minaur will face either Roberto Bautista Agut or Milos Raonic in the next round.

    Data Debrief: Krunic rekindles special memories as de Minaur earns maiden grass win

    Krunic will forever have an affinity with s-Hertogenbosch, where she won her only career WTA title six years ago.

    And the 31-year-old claimed an impressive scalp here to reach her first WTA quarter-final since 2022 - and first on grass since that 2018 triumph.

    De Minaur impressed once again, winning 86 per cent of his first serve points against the Belgian. 

    Their meeting in s-Hertogenbosch was the first between the pair, with De Minaur able to overcome his quarter-final defeat to Alexander Zverev at the French Open. 

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.