Unbeaten Serbia through to ATP Cup quarters

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA (AFP) – Serbian superstar Novak Djokovic said yesterday that the ATP Cup was the ideal preparation for his bid to win an eighth Australian Open crown.

Speaking after Serbia beat Chile 2-1 to remain unbeaten after the round-robin stage, Djokovic said he wasn’t fazed by having to play three top players in a row to start the season.

Djokovic made it three singles wins from three with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Cristian Garin, the world number 33, to win the tie for Serbia after Dusan Lajovic earlier beat Nicolas Jarry 6-2, 7-6 (7/2).

Jarry and Alejandro Tabilo salvaged some pride for Chile when they beat Viktor Troicki and Nikola Cacic in the doubles 6-3, 7-6 (7/2).

“I’ve never minded, to be honest, to face tough adversity from the blocks and have high-intensity matches from day one of the season,” Djokovic, a 16-time grand slam winner, said.

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic plays a shot during his match against Chile’s Cristian Garin at the ATP Cup tournament. PHOTO: AP

“I had Kevin Anderson who was playing some extraordinary tennis. I thought it was the toughest match I’ve played here in Brisbane.

“And again against (Gael) Monfils, even though it was straight sets, it was still a lot of rallies and it was quite long and exhausting.

“I really am really happy with the challenges that I’ve had in the last six, seven days here, and hopefully that can allow me to build my form for Sydney and Melbourne later.”

Serbia now travel to Sydney, where they will take on the eighth-ranked team in the quarter-finals and Djokovic said he expected to have even more support from Serbian fans there than in Brisbane.

“I’m enjoying it – I enjoy the fact that we will actually go to a different city together, travel today, practice there tomorrow, play in a different environment,” he said.

“Sydney’s got a big Serbian community, hopefully the support can be as good as it was here, even better.

“It’s a team competition, it’s how I personally treat it, and that’s how it feels for all of us, so having that journey through various places in Australia together feels like a World Cup to us a little bit.”