Djokovic leads Serbia to victory over Spain in ATP Cup final

Djokovic leads Serbia to victory over Spain in ATP Cup final
Serbia captain Nenad Zimonjic lifts the trophy as he celebrates after winning the ATP Cup alongside (from left) Viktor Troicki, Nikola Milojevic, Dusan Lajovic, Novak Djokovic and Nikola Cacic. (Reuters)
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Updated 13 January 2020

Djokovic leads Serbia to victory over Spain in ATP Cup final

Djokovic leads Serbia to victory over Spain in ATP Cup final
  • Second-ranked Djokivic had a 6-2, 7-6 (4) win over No. 1 Nadal on Sunday night

SYDNEY: Novak Djokovic beat Rafael Nadal and then went back on court within an hour and won the deciding doubles encounter to secure Serbia’s victory over Spain in the inaugural ATP Cup final.

Second-ranked Djokivic had a 6-2, 7-6 (4) win over No. 1 Nadal on Sunday night to level the final after Roberto Bautista Agut had given Spain a 1-0 lead by beating Dusan Lajovic 7-5, 6-1 in the first singles match.

After extending his lead to 29-26 in career head-to-heads with Nadal, and his supremacy over the Spaniard on hardcourts, Djokovic combined with Victor Troicki for a 6-3, 6-4 win over Pablo Carreno Busta and Feliciano Lopez.

“I’ll remember this experience for the rest of my life — it’s one of the nicest moments of my career,” Djokovic said. “I’ve been very fortunately blessed, had an amazing career over the last 15 years, but playing for a team, playing for a country with some of my best friends is just — you can’t match that. It’s too special.”

He joked in an on-court TV interview that the team would fly home to Serbia to celebrate before the Australian Open, which starts a week from Monday, but decided the party should start in Sydney.

“There’s a lot of Serbian people in Sydney,” Djokovic said. “If you want to make a celebration, we’re ready.”

Nadal, who hasn’t beaten Djokovic on a hard surface since the 2013 US Open final, withdrew from the doubles, citing fatigue, saying he had confidence in his teammate Lopez, a four-time Davis Cup champion.

“I have been playing a lot of tennis the last couple of days. My level of energy is a little bit lower than usual, because I played long yesterday, very long before yesterday, very long in (Perth),” Nadal said. “So it’s a team decision, and we believe in our team. That’s why we had success in the past.”

After playing six singles matches and two doubles matches in 10 days — on both the west and east coasts of Australia — less than two months after guiding Spain to the Davis Cup title in Madrid, Nadal urged the International Tennis Federation and the ATP to negotiate to form one world team championship.

“I think (ATP CUP) is a great competition, but at the same time — I can’t change my mind that two World Cups in one month is not real. So is not possible,” he said. “So we need to find a way to fix it and we need to find a way to make a big deal with ITF and ATP to create a big World Team Cup competition, not two. I think that’s a confusion for the spectators, and we need to be clear in our sport.”

Spain’s early lead put extra pressure on Djokovic, who has won a record seven Australian Open men’s singles titles. He hadn’t lost a singles match at the new 24-team tournament, and started like losing wasn’t a consideration.

“I started off the match, perfectly, really. Everything worked for me,” he said. “Serve got me out of trouble in the second set.”


Arteta eyes new signings as Arsenal shed fringe players

Arteta eyes new signings as Arsenal shed fringe players
Updated 22 January 2021

Arteta eyes new signings as Arsenal shed fringe players

Arteta eyes new signings as Arsenal shed fringe players

LONDON: Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta is focusing on potential signings in the January transfer window after trimming his squad but refused to be drawn on a loan move for Real Madrid’s Martin Odegaard

Sokratis Papastathopoulos was released from his contract this week, while Mesut Ozil is on the brink of a transfer to Turkish club Fenerbahce.

Sead Kolasinac and William Saliba have already left on loan deals as Arteta seeks to re-balance his squad.

The Arsenal boss, speaking ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup fourth-round match at Southampton, would not be drawn on reports linking the club with a loan move for Real’s attacking midfielder Odegaard.

But he said the focus would now turn to the entrance door rather than the exit at the Emirates.

“We are in that process now,” Arteta said on Thursday when asked if it was now time to start bringing players in.

“We have done the first part more or less and we are focusing now on the second phase.

“Obviously this market and the context makes it difficult, but we are looking at options and we will see what we can do.”

Arteta, whose team are FA Cup holders, said the departures had left his squad short in certain areas.

He said a left-back could be on the radar, with the decision to allow Kolasinac to join Schalke until the end of the season leaving him with only Kieran Tierney as a natural option.

“With the departure of Kola we are a little bit short with left-footed fullbacks at the moment,” he added.

Both Ozil and Sokratis were omitted from Arsenal’s Premier League and Europa League squads for the first half of the season.

Arteta had stressed several times he was unhappy with the bloated nature of the squad and feels the departures will help him achieve a better balance.

“We could not carry on with 31 players in the squad,” he said. “It is unmanageable. And when you have to leave some of the foreign players out, it makes it even  more difficult.

“To do it for a few weeks is OK, to do it for months and maintain the health, the ambition and the chemistry is really complicated.

“So one of the main objectives was to make some decisions about how we are going to offset that. We have done it.”