The defending champion Serbia had to work hard in the opening tie of this year's ATP Cup, prevailing over Canada 2-1. In the first match of the day, Milos Raonic overpowered Dusan Lajovic 6-3, 6-4 in an hour and 19 minutes, looking sharp and aggressive and hitting 26 winners and 25 unforced errors.
Milos lost only three points behind the first serve and never faced a break point, challenging Lajovic to repeat that if he wanted to stay in contention. The Serb couldn't find the right answer or a way to impose at least one tie break, suffering one break in each set to propel Milos over the edge.
Raonic earned the first break at 4-3 in the opening set and fired four winners a few minutes later to clinch the opener in style. Lajovic sprayed a forehand error at 3-3 in set number two for another setback, allowing Milos to seal the deal with an ace at 5-4.
With no room for errors, world no. 1 Novak Djokovic played well in his first match of the season to produce a hard-fought 7-5, 7-5 triumph over Denis Shapovalov in an hour and 53 minutes. Novak and Denis were the rivals at the last year's ATP Cup as well, with the Serb prevailing 4-6, 6-1, 7-6 after two hours and 40 minutes.
Serbia defeated Canada 2-1 to kick off title defense.
It was a close battle in the opening ten games of each set today as well, and Novak used his experience to grab those breaks when he needed them the most to seal the deal in straight sets.
Djokovic never faced a break point in his sixth victory over Denis in as many encounters, dropping 14 points in 12 service games and taming his strokes more efficiently to seize those two breaks and level the overall score to 1-1.
In the deciding doubles rubber, Novak Djokovic and Filip Krajinovicv ousted Denis Shapovalov and Milos Raonic 7-5, 7-6 after a thriller to cement the triumph for Serbia. The Serbs claimed 12 of the last 14 points from 5-4 down in the first set to take a big step towards the win.
The Canadians survived challenging games in sets seven and nine in set number two to reach a tie break, losing it 7-4 to propel Serbia over the finish line.