First ATP Cup tournament
By Roger Childs
The measure of national men’s tennis supremacy has traditionally been the Davis Cup which has been played for over 100 years. There are four single matches and a doubles and it is played over several months of the year. The start of 2020 has seen a new contest between nations — the inaugural Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) Cup with just the two single followed by the doubles.
All the top men’s players are in Australia for the first grand slam of the year in Melbourne later in the month, as well as lead-up tournaments in Sydney, Perth, Brisbane, Hobart and Auckland. So it was highly convenient to have the ATP Cup in the first fortnight of January based across the Tasman.
A highly successful tournament
24 teams from different countries have played in Perth, Sydney and Brisbane and there have been good crowds with plenty of enthusiastic nationalist support from the fans. The final was played last night on Sydney’s Ken Rosewall Arena between Spain and Serbia, with the second singles matching up the world’s two top players Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
Australian fans had high hopes for the combination of a well behaved Nick Kyrgios and Alex De Minaur to guide the home team through to the final. They played Britain in the quarter finals and the tie hung on the doubles result. It was all decided in the tie break which is won by the first combination to get two points ahead once one team reaches reaches 7. Jamie Murray – Andy’s younger brother — should have won it for the UK, but put an easy return over the baseline. In the end the Australians prevailed 16-14. However they couldn’t get past Spain in the semis as Nadal and Roberto Bautista Agut won the two singles comfortably.
In the other semi-final Russia was the favourite against Serbia as the match between Daniil Medvedev and Djokovic was expected to be evenly fought, but the more highly ranked Karen Khachanov was expected to beat the Serbian number two, Dusan Lajovic, comfortably. However the Serb, who is built like a number eight rugby player, played brilliantly to win in two sets while Djokovic beat Medvedev in three.
Serbia wins the final
Lajovic couldn’t reproduce his excellent form in the final and Spain’s Bautista Agut won the second set 6-1 after a close 7-5 in the first. World number one Rafael Nadal dropped his first serve against Novak Djokovic who was serving brilliantly and playing superb ground strokes. He took Nadal’s fourth service game then served four aces to win the first set 6-2. The second set went to 6-6 before Djokovic sealed the match 7-5 in the breaker. Serbia then won the doubles to win the first ATP Cup.
The new tournament is here to stay as it has proved very popular with the players, fans and commentators. It’s a great way to start the year of men’s tennis.