Djokovic inspires Serbia to ATP Cup quarters

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA (AFP) – A near-perfect Novak Djokovic (pic below) won both his singles and doubles rubbers as Serbia beat France 2-1 to reach the quarter-finals of the inaugural ATP Cup team event in Brisbane on Monday night.

After Benoit Paire beat Dusan Lajovic to give France a 1-0 lead, Djokovic overpowered Gael Monfils in straight sets then teamed with Viktor Troicki to beat Nicolas Mahut and Edouard Roger-Vasselin 6-3, 6-7 (5/7), 10-3 in a spirited and emotional doubles clash.

The win, combined with South Africa’s earlier defeat of Chile, means Serbia are assured of topping Group A with one round remaining.

Djokovic was in superb touch to level the tie following Lajovic’s three-set loss to Paire in the opening rubber.

He had beaten Monfils in all 15 previous meetings and that perfect record never looked in danger as he dominated the Frenchman from the outset.

Djokovic put relentless pressure on Monfils’ serve throughout, breaking him three times in a 6-3, 6-2 victory.

Djokovic said both he and Monfils had been affected by the humidity on Pat Rafter Arena.

“It was definitely some of the most humid conditions I’ve ever had in my career. I mean tonight was brutal,” he said.

“Obviously playing Gael is never easy. You come into the court knowing you are going to have a lot of exchanges, a lot of rallies. He’s a great fighter.”

As the Frenchman began to show the effects of the humidity, Djokovic stepped up the pressure and eased to victory in 90 minutes in front of hundreds of chanting Serbian fans.

Paire was forced to overcome both his opponent and his emotions in his 6-2, 6-7 (6/8), 6-4 win.