Novak Djokovic patted the left side of his chest above his heart with his right hand, wished his Serbian supporters a Merry Christmas, and told everyone else listening: “See you in Sydney.”
The seven-time Australian Open champion won his singles and doubles matches back-to-back to guide Serbia to a comeback win over France on Monday and secure a spot in the ATP Cup quarterfinals.
Djokovic saved all nine break points he faced against ninth-ranked Gael Monfils in a 6-3, 6-2 victory in the singles, leveling the match after Benoit Paire had beaten Dusan Lajovic 6-2, 6-7 (6), 6-4 in the opening match to give France a 1-0 lead.
With Pat Rafter Arena packed with flag-waving, chanting Serbs, the atmosphere for the deciding doubles encounter was like a compact soccer stadium. Djokovic needed treatment above his right elbow in the second set but overcame the pain as he combined with Viktor Troicki to beat Nicolas Mahut and Edouard Roger-Vasselin 6-3, 6-7 (5), 10-3 at 12:37 a.m. in Brisbane. Serbia leads Group A with two wins.
“We love playing for our country," Djokovic said before sending a message in his native tongue in an on-court TV interview.
It's a sentiment shared by top-ranked Rafael Nadal, who thrives in the team environment.
Weeks after leading Spain to the Davis Cup title, the traditional men's team event, Nadal is doing his best to do it again at the the ATP Cup, the newest of the international team competitions.
Nadal beat Pablo Cuevas 6-2, 6-1 to secure Spain's win in the best-of-three encounter against Uruguay in Perth ahead of the doubles. Spain now has two wins from two starts in Group B and next faces unbeaten Japan to determine first place and automatic qualification for the playoffs in Sydney.