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An Australian Open preview? Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic set up blockbuster clash at ATP Cup final

World No.1 Rafael Nadal and No.2 Novak Djokovic are set up for a blockbuster finale at the Ken Rosewall Arena for the inaugural ATP Cup, just a week before the year's first Grand Slam - the Australian Open 2020.

Aratrick Mondal Aratrick Mondal
New Delhi Published on: January 12, 2020 8:30 IST
It's Nadal vs Djokovic at ATP Cup 2020 final
Image Source : GETTY IMAGES

It's Nadal vs Djokovic at ATP Cup 2020 final

Tennis fans all around the world and more so the Sydney crowd couldn't have asked for more. World No.1 Rafael Nadal and No.2 Novak Djokovic are set up for a blockbuster finale at the Ken Rosewall Arena for the inaugural ATP Cup, just a week before the year's first Grand Slam - the Australian Open 2020.

A year back, the two stalwarts were up against each other in the land Down Under, at Melbourne Park, for the Australian Open final. And it was the Serb who took home the trophy, a record seventh title in Australian Open and his then 15th career slam, defeating Nadal 6–3, 6–2, 6–3 in one of their most lopsided battles. 

Less than 365 days later, the two gear up for the summit clash at the ATP Cup 2020 finale where both Nadal and Djokovic guided their countries to the finale. While Nadal weathered an early barrage before beating young Alex de Minaur 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 to clinch Spain's semifinal win against Australia, Djokovic overcame Daniil Medvedev 6-1, 5-7, 6-4 to secure Serbia's win against Russia in the semis. 

Nadal vs Djokovic stats

- The two will be meeting for the 15th straight year and for the 55th time in ATP circuit with the Serb leading the rivalry 28-26, comprising eight straight wins on hard courts. Meanwhile, Djokovic also lead 7-1 against Nadal when he is ranked No.2 and the Spaniard is the world no.1. But in doubles, Nadal leads 2-0 against Djokovic.

- Djokovic is 6-0 in ATP Cup singles matches so far and dropped a set only twice - against Denis Shapovalov and Medvedev. And three of his wins were against top-15 players. 

- Nadal is 5-1 in ATP Cup singles matches, having lost to David Goffin of Belgium in straight sets in the quarters. Goffin was the only top-15 ranked player that Nadal faced. The Spaniard has dropped a set thrice - another against De Minaur. 

“It's going to be a super tough final against Serbia,” said Nadal. “Novak likes to play here and Serbia has a great team and is playing very well. But Roberto played an amazing match this afternoon and we have a good team, so we are ready for it.”

Nadal also complemented the Serb for his impressive week and his unbeaten run and wants to play at the highest level to have his chances against Djokovic. 

“[It is going to] be a tough match for me, of course. He has been playing some great matches this week,” said Nadal. “But here I am. I think I finished with positive energy [against De Minaur]. I know I have to be ready to play at my highest level to have my chance [against Djokovic]. I need something else, and I'm looking for it.”

“Physically, I guess he is a little ahead of me. Djokovic plays on a surface that is perhaps his favourite,” said Nadal. “I know I have a complicated game, but if I play at my best level I hope to have my chances. Then, we have other matches in the tie that can help us achieve something important”.

Besides Nadal, Spain also have Roberto Bautista Agut who has scripted an unbeaten run in the singles category in ATP Cup and will be up against Dusan Lajovic, who heads into the final following a straight-set win against Karen Khachanov. However, Lajovic is 4-1 at the event and will only be looking for his first win against Bautista Augt in four meetings. 

Prediction

Spain will be counting on Bautista Augt's unbeaten campaign to take the early lead in the battle. This will certainly ease the pressure off Nadal, but Djokovic thrives under such circumstances. Hence, it will all boil down to the doubles where Nadal will pair with partner Pablo Carreno Busta, who are 2-0 in the event. Meanwhile, Djokovic will pair with Viktor Troicki, who has a 4-1 record at ATP Cup so far. Moreover, Spain are 4-0 at the event in doubles while Serbia are 4-1. 

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