Novak Djokovic convincingly beat tricky French opponent Gael Monfils 6-3 6-2 and later helped Serbia win the doubles as they progressed at the inaugural ATP Cup team event in Brisbane on Monday.
Spain’s world number one Rafa Nadal was also in punishing mood ahead of this month’s Australian Open as he dismantled Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas 6-2 6-1 in Perth to seal their tie.
Roberto Bautista Agut had given the Spaniards the lead after an equally one-sided 6-1 6-2 win over Franco Roncadelli in the $15 million ATP Cup, which features 24 nations competing in Perth, Brisbane and Sydney over 10 days.
The world’s top players have assembled for the tournament and are using the event to prepare for the year’s first Grand Slam, which starts in Melbourne on Jan. 20.
Djokovic had a 15-0 head-to-head record against Monfils before Monday’s clash and, after surviving an initial onslaught from his opponent, made sure the record remained blemish free.
The Serb saved nine break points while converting the three he had against Monfils, who finished 2019 in the top 10, to square the tie after the temperamental Benoit Paire had given France the lead by overcoming Dusan Lajovic 6-2 6-7(6) 6-4.
“It was definitely one of the most humid conditions I have ever had in my career,” Djokovic said in a court-side interview. “I mean, tonight was brutal.”
“Obviously playing Gael is never easy. You are coming into the court knowing that you are going to have a lot of exchanges, a lot of rallies.” Djokovic added.
“He is a great fighter and a great friend of mine, so I wish him all the best. Tough luck today.”
Djokovic returned to court with Viktor Troicki to clinch the deciding doubles match against Nicolas Mahut and Edouard Roger-Vasselin 6-3 6-7(5) 10-3.
The 2-1 result ensured Serbia will finish as Group A winners and become the second team to qualify for the quarter-finals, after Australia booked their place as Group F winners on Sunday.