Djokovic spoils Anderson’s return; Serbia defeats South Africa

Djokovic spoils Anderson’s return; Serbia defeats South Africa

Kevin Anderson impressed in his first match in six months, but Djokovic and Serbia proved too strong for South Africa.

Judging by both their passion and levels of play, Novak Djokovic and Kevin Anderson were raring to begin their respective 2020 campaigns. Playing in the ATP Cup tie on Saturday night in Brisbane, Djokovic prevailed over Anderson, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (6), as part of a Serbian sweep of South Africa.

In the opening set, the world No. 2 stormed to a 4-1 lead, overwhelming the understandably rusty South African. Slowly, but surely, Anderson began to find his range and footing, using his devastating first serve and first ball combination to keep the Serb off-balance to frustrate Djokovic. In the end, it was the Serb who emerged victorious.

“I thought it was a fantastic opening match of the season," Djokovic said. “I was really pleasantly surprised and I'm very grateful to all the fans coming out and being patient, staying all the way to the end of the match, especially Serbian guys that really showed the great passion.”

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Despite the loss, Anderson—who had been sidelined with a knee injury since Wimbledon—was pleased with the way he fought.

“Coming first match back and straight away playing Novak's obviously a little bit tough,” Anderson said. “Definitely got off to a little bit of a nervous start but I am really pleased with the way I was able to turn it around and felt [like I] pretty much went toe-to-toe from midway through the first set through the rest of the match.”

World No. 34 Dusan Lajovic avenged his September Chengdu Open loss to Lloyd Harris and scored a pivotal first-match victory over the world No. 99. 

Later, Team Serbia completed a 3-0 victory after Nikola Cacic and Viktor Troicki triumphed over Raven Klaasen and Ruan Roelofse, 6-3, 6-2.

After a day's rest, Serbia will face off against a talented French squad featuring Gael Monfils and Benoit Paire.