Rafael Nadal lost a singles match for just the second time since July, and came within two points of another defeat moments after he had knocked out Spain in the ATP Cup.
But after losing 6-4, 7-6 (3) to David Goffin in singles on Friday, the world number one teamed up with Pablo Carreño Busta in the decisive doubles game against Belgium, one that was defined in a tiebreaker. The victory, achieved after 1 a.m. in Sydney, installed the brand-new Davis Cup champions in a semi-final against host Australia.
“David played a great game. It was superior. I have suffered a lot physically. A lot of humidity, ”Nadal declared. “But at the same time it is justifiable to say that we were in the worst situation for these quarter-finals because we had to travel from Perth. There is a change of three hours, different weather conditions, to face a team that has been here for 10 days ”.
“And we had very heavy conditions today, we were in the worst situation to play this series. We are super happy to have advanced in the semifinals, and tomorrow will be another day, “he added.
In the early hours, Novak Djokovic had almost the entire audience in the arena Ken Rosewell on his side, and he showed what a good host he is with his guests.
His quarter-final match against Canada’s Denis Shapovalov came to a halt at the end of the third set when a spectator needed medical attention, and Djokovic, who was 0-30 against and served to win the match, grabbed a bottle of water, went the stands and asked the crowd to pass it.
At the restart he managed to level the score 30-30, but Shapovalov beat him to serve to tie the set 5-5. The Canadian saved a break point in the next game, but the match went to a tie break after two and a half hours of play. The Serbian then took over the reins and won the first five points to complete his comeback 4-6, 6-1, 7-6 (4).
Dusan Lajovic outpointed Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-4, 6-2 earlier in the day, so Djokovic secured Serbia’s ticket to the semi-finals, where they will meet Russia, before the doubles dispute, where it was completed. his sweep 3-0.
“It was very tight, it could have turned out differently very easily. (Shapovalov) was playing excellent tennis, ”said Djokovic. “I felt, at all times, that I was playing totally at home.”
The night session was intense until the end.
Roberto Bautista Agut led Spain 1-0 by extending their winning streak in straight sets by beating 6-1, 6-4 over Kimmer Coppejans, who came to play for Belgian captain Steve Darcis at the last minute.
Nadal did not give up a single set in his three singles matches in Perth in the group stage of the new international team competition, but was never able to break the aggressive Goffin in Sydney.
The Spanish star showed fatigue in singles and in the doubles tug of war against Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen, losing the tiebreaker in the first set. The Belgians were two points away from victory with a 5-4 and Carreño Busta on serve. But the Spaniards reacted, they achieved the decisive break when the chair umpire ruled that the Vliegen raque touched the net in a volley. Spain achieved the break with that point and Nadal sealed the victory with his serve.
In the end, Nadal’s experience was key for Spain to prevail 6-7 (7), 7-5, 10-7 in doubles.
Djokovic, the player with the most Australian Open titles to his name with seven, played in Sydney for the first time in a decade after going 3-0 in singles during Serbia’s group stage in Brisbane.
“In Brisbane we had incredible support, but this is on another level,” acknowledged Djokovic. “All the Serbs came here today.”
“Sometimes they were too engaged, and Denis was rightly bothered at times, by the noises, but it was actually a Davis Cup-like atmosphere. In other words, the ATP Cup provides this type of opportunity for players to experience something that 90% of tournaments do not experience ”.
The thermometers exceeded 33 degrees Celsius (91 F) during the encounter, and the mist and absence of a breeze outside the enclosure made the atmosphere inside stifling.
Russia captain Marat Safin said his team will benefit from the extra day of rest and could win singles matches against Serbia on Saturday to qualify for the final before doubles. AP