The World No. 1 and World No. 2 lead their countries into the inaugural ATP Cup final, with both men eager to lift the trophy alongside their countrymen for the first time. Nadal and Djokovic will meet for the 55th time in their ATP Head2Head series (Djokovic leads 28-26) in the tie’s second match, when one player will be able to clinch the title for their team.
“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 has been impressed by the form of his great rival in the build up to their latest encounter. Djokovic owns a perfect 6-0 record at the ATP Cup so far, which includes singles victories against Top 15 stars Daniil Medvedev, Gael Monfils and Denis Shapovalov.
“[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.”
After contesting two matches against Belgium and rallying from a set down to beat Alex de Minaur, Nadal has spent more than six and a half hours on court since arriving in Sydney.
“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”.
The opening tie of the contest will feature Roberto Bautista Agut and Dusan Lajovic. Top 10 star Bautista Agut enters the contest in top form, having won five matches at this event for the loss of just 19 games.
Lajovic also enters the final with confidence, following his straight-sets victory against Karen Khachanov. The World No. 34, who owns a 4-1 record at this event, will be aiming to record his first win against Bautista Agut in their fourth ATP Head2Head clash. If Lajovic can break new ground, he will hand Djokovic the opportunity to capture the title for Serbia against Nadal.
“I want to give [Dusan] a huge credit for what he has done in this competition so far. He’s won all of his matches except one, and the one he lost was in tight three sets,” said Djokovic.
“His level is getting higher and higher as the competition progresses, which is so good to see [from] him. As a friend and someone that has followed his development for many years, to see him playing this well is fantastic.”
Following the two singles encounters, Nadal and Djokovic will both return to the court in what could prove to be a winner-takes-all doubles contest.
Nadal will partner Pablo Carreno Busta in the final match of the tournament. The Spaniards own a 2-0 record as a pair in this event, which includes a tie-deciding Match Tie-break victory against Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen of Belgium in the quarter-finals.
Djokovic will join forces with Viktor Troicki, who has secured wins in four of his five matches at the ATP Cup. Djokovic and Troicki have also triumphed in a pivotal doubles contest en route to the final, defeating Nicolas Mahut and Edouard Roger-Vasselin of France in a Match Tie-break to secure a 2-1 victory for Serbia in Group A.
With Nadal and Djokovic adding another chapter to their famous rivalry, Spain and Serbia are one tie away from writing the first entry in the ATP Cup history book.
The inaugural ATP Cup champions are ready to be crowned.