Rafa sidelined, workforce Djokovic wins to open ATP Cup defence

Melbourne, February 2

Rafael Nadal didn’t make it for Spain’s ATP Cup opener because of a sore back, deciding it wasn’t worth the risk a week ahead of the Australian Open.

Novak Djokovic did double-time for defending champions Serbia, meanwhile, winning singles and doubles matches today to ensure a 2-1 comeback win over Canada.

Djokovic was in his element on Rod Laver Arena while Serbia’s fans chanted and waved their national flag. He beat Denis Shapovalov 7-5 7-5 to force a deciding doubles match, then combined with Filip Krajinovic for a 7-5, 7-6 (4) win over the Canadian pair. The large and loud band of Serbia supporters was a feature of Djokovic and his team’s win in the inaugural ATP Cup last year, which culminated with a victory over Nadal and Spain.

“It’s a pleasure to see them in such big numbers. Whenever they can, they show up,” Djokovic said.

The second-ranked Nadal posted a statement on Twitter before his scheduled night match against Australia’s Alex de Minaur saying he had a stiff lower back and “hopefully I’ll be better for Thursday.” Spain didn’t miss a beat, with Pablo Carreno Busta and Roberto Bautista Agut winning their singles matches to secure a win over Australia in Group B.

Divij progresses; Ankita, Bopanna knocked out

India’s Divij Sharan and Slovakia’s Igor Zelenay and progressed to the next round of the Murray River Open with a 4-6 6-3 10-8 win over Argentina’s Guillermo Duran and Spain’s Albert Ramos Vinolas. However, it was curtains for Rohan Bopanna and Ankita Raina. Bopanna and Denmark’s Frederik Nielsen lost 4-6 3-6 to Australia’s James Duckworth and Marc Polmans.

Ankita and her Dutch partner Rosalie Van Der Hoek lost 2-6 6-7(2) to Japan’s Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara. — Agencies

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