ATP Cup Day 10 Final Notes
Finals are often the least impressive days of tournaments and so it was on the final day of the ATP Cup.
The highlight, for many singles fans, was a single set played between Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal. There was much hype for this match, but those who knew that Djokovic had won their last 8 hard court matches, and had not dropped a set, had little expectation.
When Djokovic won the first set 6-2, another routine win for the Serbian seemed incoming. Nadal mixed up his routine, though, going for some serve and volley plays. He even got three break points at 3-2, but the Serbian won five points in a row to put that break bid to rest.
While Nadal was successful in taking Djokovic to a tiebreak, saving break points at 5-5, what he did not do successfully enough throughout the match was move inside the court for both returns and rallies, and that is what he will need to change if he is going to have any chance of doing better than a tiebreak set versus Djokovic on hard. Nadal needs his forehand down the line to work versus Djokovic and taking the ball feet beyond the baseline does not allow him to play that shot aggressively.
On hard courts, with Nadal and Djokovic, the ATP have a tough situation. Hard courts are the most played on courts on the tour, but if every time Nadal and Djokovic meet on them, the tour’s big One Vs Two matches on that surface is not really a rivalry but more a mismatch.
The ATP Cup format meant it did not matter too much in deciding the outcome of the tie. Djokovic’s win leveled the tie at 1-1 after Bautista-Agut’s straight sets defeat of Dusan Lajovic. And while the doubles tie did not deliver a thrilling finale, the Serbian win was a crowd pleaser. The Sydney crowd were overwhelmingly in favor of the Serbs, to such degrees Djokovic said he had never played with such support.
Grade: C-. Most tournaments don’t get it right come finals day. So much luck is involved in producing a fitting end to an event. The ATP Cup did get at least a competitive set of hard court tennis out of Nadal and Djokovic and the atmosphere could be felt through the TV screen. Still, the final was underwhelming.
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