Rafael Nadal couldn't play for Spain on the ATP Cup's opening day, struggling with a minor back issue and hoping to get ready for Thursday and the clash against Stefanos Tsitsipas. Still, Spain proved too strong for Australia, as Pablo Carreno Busta and Roberto Bautista Agut led the last year's finalist towards commanding victory.
Pablo Carreno Busta defeated John Millman 6-2, 6-4 in an hour and 17 minutes, hitting 19 winners and 15 unforced errors and playing well on both serve and return. The Spaniard lost serve once and scored four breaks to control the result and push his country in front.
They traded three breaks in the middle of the opening set, and Pablo scored two to open a 4-2 gap. Carreno Busta landed a forehand down the line winner for another break in game seven and saved a break point in the next one for 6-2.
The second set saw nine comfortable holds and a break for Pablo at 2-2 following John's loose forehand. Serving for the win at 5-4, the Spaniard held with a service winner to propel Spain in front. In the second match of the day, Roberto Bautista Agut stepped in instead of Rafael Nadal and ousted Alex de Minaur 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 in two hours and 20 minutes to deliver Spain's overall victory.
Bautista Agut struggled on the second serve and lost serve four times in the opening set, working hard on the return to fix that. Today, De Minaur didn't bring his best serving package with him, playing against no less than 17 break points and suffering five breaks to finish on the losing side despite giving everything.
Carreno Busta, Bautista Agut earned Spain's victory over Australia.
The opening set offered a roller coaster ride and seven breaks in ten games, as neither could find the desired rhythm behind the initial shot. De Minaur scored three consecutive breaks for a massive 5-1 advantage and wasted a set point in the next game.
Roberto bounced back to 4-5 before the youngster grabbed his fourth break for 6-4. The Spaniard raised his level in set number two and threw five commanding holds at de Minaur, who failed to respond. The Aussie lost serve in the third game and couldn't erase the deficit in the rest of the set, allowing Bautista Agut to clinch it 6-4 and gain momentum ahead of the decider.
As in set number two, Roberto barely lost a point in his games, waiting for a chance on the return patiently and earning it in the third game when he forged the decisive lead. Serving for the victory at 5-4, the Spaniard held at 15 to move over the top and wrap up Spain's first tie.