2020 in Review: Novak Djokovic downs Rafael Nadal, as Serbia wins title



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2020 in Review: Novak Djokovic downs Rafael Nadal, as Serbia wins title

Serbia claimed the inaugural ATP Cup crown in January, beating Spain 2-1 in Sydney. Roberto Bautista Agut defeated Dusan Lajovic 7-5, 6-1 in an hour and 37 minutes in the opening encounter, putting Spain in the driving seat ahead of the match of the tournament.

Bautista Agut did everything right during those ten days, scoring six straight-sets wins over lower-ranked opponents and allowing Nadal to compete with less stress in more challenging encounters. Roberto served at 75% and got broken twice from five chances offered to the Serb once he was already miles in front.

Dusan delivered a fantastic performance against Karen Khachanov a day before but couldn't repeat that, giving away more than half of the points behind the initial shot and suffering five breaks from ten opportunities to propel the Spaniard over the finish line.

Playing against each other for the 55th time on the Tour, Novak Djokovic scored the 29th victory over world no. 1 and the ninth straight on the hard courts to keep Serbia alive. Novak scored a 6-2, 7-6 triumph in an hour and 55 minutes, delivering the sixth straight victory at the beginning of the season and reducing the deficit to Nadal ahead of the Australian Open.

Djokovic dominated in the first set before Nadal responded in the second, staying in touch with the Serb and missing a chance to break him at 3-2 and move in front. Firing 12 aces, Novak lost only 14 points in ten service games, repelling those five break chances and stealing Nadal's serve twice in the opener for the best possible start.

Rafa served better in the second set and followed Novak's pace after erasing two late break points, only to fall in the tie break and send Novak over the top, losing all the matches against the Serb on hard after the US Open 2013!

Firing from all cylinders, Novak converted the third break chance in the first game when Nadal's slice found the net, cementing the break with a service winner after deuce in game two and creating more damage on the return at 3-1.

Serbia defeated Spain 2-1 at the inaugural ATP Cup to win the title.

Battling for every point, Rafa fended off two break chances to remain within one break deficit before Novak landed another deep return carried him towards a 5-2 lead.

Serving for the set, the Serb blasted four service winners to take it 6-2 after 39 minutes, hoping for more of the same in the rest of the clash. Raising his level in set number two, Rafa lost only three points in the opening three service games and earned five break opportunities in the sixth game that could have given him momentum.

Producing bold and brave hitting, Djokovic repelled them all to remain on the positive side of the scoreboard, serving well by the end of the set and having a chance to seal the deal in the 11th game when Nadal played against two break chances.

With his back pushed against the wall, Rafa fired two winners to get out of jail and reach a tie break, moving 3-2 up there with a backhand down the line winner. Djokovic responded with two winners that pushed him 4-3 in front and gained another mini-break with a backhand down the line winner in the ninth point.

Nadal sprayed a backhand slice error to face two match points, netting a forehand in the next point to hand the victory to Novak ahead of the deciding doubles encounter. Novak was back on the court soon after that with Viktor Troicki, beating Pablo Carreno Busta and Feliciano Lopez 6-3, 6-4 in an hour and 15 minutes to overcome the deficit and put Serbia's name on that beautiful trophy.

Novak lost serve in the first game after a terrible error from Troicki at the net, with Lopez sending the Spaniards 2-0 up after a hold at love. The Serbs started to play much better after that, barely losing a point on serve by the end of the set and breaking Lopez in game six to level the score at 3-3.

Serving a 3-4, Carreno Busta suffered a break after a backhand mistake, with Novak holding at love to secure the opener for Serbia. Carried by this momentum, the Serbs broke Lopez at the beginning of the second set and saved a break chance in game six following a booming serve from Novak to remain in front and move closer to the finish line.

Serving for the victory and the title in game ten, Djokovic held at love to seal the deal and start a massive celebration with his teammates, writing history as the first ATP Cup champions.