Djokovic begins ATP Cup bid in style

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    MELBOURNE. — Novak Djokovic kicked off his 2021 season in style on his favorite Rod Laver Arena court with a clinical 7-5 7-5 win over Canadian talent Denis Shapovalov in the ATP Cup on Tuesday.

    Leading Serbia’s title defense in the team-based event, Djokovic was thrilled with his form in the Group A clash, a rematch of last year’s quarterfinal against Shapovalov.

    “It’s a great opening of the season. I hope all of you who came here enjoyed it because I certainly did,” the world No. 1 told a small crowd at the stadium, soaking up boisterous cheers from Serbian fans.

    Last year the Canadian had pushed Djokovic to a third-set tiebreak but the Serb wrapped things up more quickly on Tuesday, breaking Shapovalov as he served to stay in the match.

    Himself unbroken on serve, Djokovic sealed the match with a sparkling winner, scrambling to his right to whip a curling forehand passing shot down the line.

    The win levelled the tie at 1-1 after Canada’s Milos Raonic had eased past Dusan Lajovic 6-3 6-4.

    Djokovic, who will bid for a record-extending ninth Australian Open title, will play in the decisive doubles as he looks to extend his unbeaten record in the ATP Cup to 10 matches.

    While Djokovic enjoyed a dream start, Austria’s world No. 3 Dominic Thiem slumped to a 6-2 6-4 defeat to Italy’s Matteo Berrettini in his opener.

    Blasting groundstrokes meters past the baseline, the US Open champion was broken four times in a rusty display at John Cain Arena as Berrettini dominated the clash of hard hitters.