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Tennis 10sBalls • Serbia Rises Up Down Under, Captures Inaugural ATP Cup

By Ricky Dimon

In events like the Olympics and the World Cup, you have to wait four years in order to get another shot.

Serbia waited all of two months.

Bouncing back from 2019 Davis Cup heartbreak in November, Novak Djokovic and his Serbian side triumphed at the inaugural ATP Cup in Sydney on Sunday night. Djokovic kept his team alive with a 6-2, 7-6(4) victory over Rafael Nadal before partnering Viktor Troicki to beat Feliciano Lopez and Pablo Carreno Busta 6-3, 6-4 in a decisive doubles rubber.

“I’ll remember this experience for the rest of my life as definitely one of the nicest moments in my career,” Djokovic assured. “I’ve been very fortunate and blessed to have an amazing career the last 15 years, but playing for the team, playing for the country with some of my best friends for a long long time, you can’t match that. That’s just too special.”

It was especially sweet for the Serbs after they exited the recent Davis Cup Finals during quarterfinal action. In that tie against Russia, Djokovic and Troicki lost the deciding match 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(8) to Karen Khachanov and Andrey Rublev.

“I want to thank Novak for playing with me again,” Troicki commented. “It was a great experience like always. I remember playing with him since we were nine (or) 10. To share such a moment on the court with him, I cannot describe it with words. As [he] said, I’ll remember it for the rest of my life.”

For Spain, Nadal had played the closer role for Spain throughout this fortnight. Roberto Bautista Agut went 6-0 at the ATP, constantly putting his country in position to win without even requiring the doubles point. He was up to his usual tricks on Sunday, this time defeating Dusan Lajovic 7-5, 6-1. Nadal, however, was unable to seal the deal against Djokovic.

Citing fatigue, the world No. 1 did not come back out for doubles.

“I have been playing a lot of tennis the last couple of days,” he explained. “My teammates have been playing great yesterday. My level of energy is a little bit lower than usual, because I played long yesterday, very long before yesterday, very long in [Perth] the last day.

“So it’s a team decision, and we believe in our team. That’s why we had success in the past, because we were able to give the confidence to the rest of the players, and we give the confidence to Feliciano and Pablo.”

Against an inspired Serbian squad, Felciano and Pablo were not enough.

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.

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