Djokovic tops Shapovalov, then partners Krajinovic to seal ATP Cup win

Djokovic tops Shapovalov, then partners Krajinovic to seal ATP Cup win

In his first match of the 2021 season, the No. 1-ranked Serb beat the Canadian No. 1 in two tight sets to extend his winning streak in Australia to 21 matches. He then took the court again to lead Serbia to a 2-1 victory in the tie.

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic got his 2021 season off to a winning start on Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday, battling past Denis Shapovalov in two tight sets, 7-5, 7-5, in his first match of the ATP Cup.

For most of the match there was very little between them—though Djokovic brought up a pair of break points in Shapovalov’s second service game of the match, the two stayed on serve for the first 11 games, when the Serb shifted gears and broke for the first time to take a one-set lead.

The pattern repeated in the second set as Djokovic missed an early break chance in Shapovalov’s first service game, and the two stayed on serve until the Serb finally broke again in the last game of the match. He rifled a forehand passing shot up the line to close it out after an hour and 53 minutes.

Djokovic improved his head-to-head record against Shapovalov to 6-0 with the win.

“It’s a great opening of the season. I hope all of you that came today enjoyed it, because I certainly did,” the Serb said in his on-court interview. “It was a very close match. Playing Shapo is always a great challenge. On hard courts he’s such a dynamic, explosive player and very talented—he has a great future ahead of him, that’s for sure. And I thought we both played on a really high level today.

“I’m very pleased with how I started this season.”

Djokovic has now won 21 matches in a row in Australia, which includes 7-0 to win the 2019 Australian Open, 6-0 at the 2020 ATP Cup, 7-0 to win the 2020 Australian Open and 1-0 so far this week.

More than half of those wins—11 of 21—have come against Top 20 players.

Getty Images

Djokovic’s win also evened Serbia’s round-robin tie against Canada to 1-1, with Milos Raonic having beaten Dusan Lajovic earlier in the day, 6-3, 6-4, in a battle between the countries’ No. 2 players.

After a short break, Djokovic took the court again for the deciding doubles match, partnering with Filip Krajinovic to lead Serbia to a 2-1 victory by beating Shapovalov and Raonic, 7-5, 7-6 (4).

Meanwhile, the round-robin tie between Austria and Italy also came down to a deciding doubles match, after the two singles matches ended in upsets—first, No. 100 Dennis Novak surprised No. 17 Fabio Fognini, 6-3, 6-2, then No. 10 Matteo Berrettini took out No. 3 Dominic Thiem, 6-2, 6-4.

Italy squeaked out the tie with Berrettini and Fognini beating Novak and Thiem, 6-1, 6-4.

Berrettini's singles win over Thiem was also the biggest win of his career in terms of ranking. Before this, his best wins were three victories over No. 5s—two of which came against Thiem in 2019.