ATP Cup Day 9 Notes

Novak Djokovic has not had the best of times versus the tour’s Next Gen the last few years with losses to Khachanov in Paris-Bercy ’18, Sascha Zverev at Rome ’17 and WTF ’18, Tsitsipas at Canada ’18, and to Daniil Medvedev at Monte Carlo and Cincy ’19.

Against Medvedev at the ATP Cup, Djokovic looked like he was going to put the pretenders in their place, winning it 6-1. The Russian got an early break in set 2 for 3-1, but Djokovic broke back.

The match then took on the mood of a real contest, the rallies long, both players biding their time, waiting for just the right ball to do something with.

That closely contested nearly 80 minute long second set came to a head when, serving at 5-6, a Djokovic double fault gifted Medvedev with a break point. Medvedev took it, picking up a Djokovic volley and hitting it for a backhand winner.

In the third, a rally to draw admiration from even the most seasoned of tennis watchers earned Djokovic a break for 3-2.

Serving at 5-4, Medvedev had his chance to really make this match one of those all time classics, holding break points, the first at 30-40 after drawing Djokovic in with a drop shot and then passing him. Djokovic saved it, standing inside the baseline and dictating play to force an error on the run.

An error from Djokovic moving inside the court and netting the ball gave Medvedev his second break point. This time Djokovic saved it at the net, the two trading exchanges up there before the world No.2 got the better of his rival. A failed attempt at a drop shot from the Russian and Djokovic had match point. Medvedev saved it with a back hand down the line winner.

Djokovic went on to save another break point with aggressive play and an ace earned him his second match point. Djokovic stayed aggressive and won it with a forehand down the line forcing an error.

Serbia, thanks to Djokovic’s win and Dusan Lajovic’s measured and focused win over Karen Khachanov will face Spain in the final.

Rafa Nadal needed an opening down a set versus Alex de Minaur and involved in a tight second. de Minaur was not giving him anything, hitting the ball flat and making the match all about him.

The Nadal opening came with de Minaur serving to stay in the second set at 5-6, 30-30. de Minaur stayed back in a long rally when he was mid court and in control only to be pushed back by the Nadal forehand which dictated the rally and forced an error. On set point, the Nadal forehand once again came into its own and he had the second set.

Nadal rode this second wind taking the third set 6-1.

With Roberto Bautista Agut dismissing Nick Kyrgios, Spain were through to the final.

The ATP Cup cannot brag too much about bringing us Nadal and Djokovic the week before the AO. Doha did this already back in 2016, not that it was anything special, the Serbian dropping just three games.

The ATP Cup has delivered, however, a final which not only pits the world No.1 and 2, Nadal and Djokovic, against one another, but also serves up, for singles fans, Bautista Agut versus Lajovic, which will be a great match to watch.

Nadal versus Djokovic may not be such a pleasure. Nadal has not won a set off Djokovic in 8 hard court meetings. It’s always worth watching their matches just in case we do get a match, but the chances are this match could be one of the more forgettable of this ATP Cup, which is not as insulting as it sounds considering the great quality contests we’ve had this last 9 days, two of which we saw this semi-final day.

Grade: B+. Had the de Minaur Nadal third set been a contest, this could have gotten an A.

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Christian Deverille

Christian Deverille is a tennis writer with a diploma in Freelance Sports Writing from the London School of Journalism. He loves all things tennis, most of all the Federer and del Potro forehands.

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