A man who has won 16 Grand Slam titles has banked plenty of magic moments. But Novak Djokovic says his latest victory, at the first-ever ATP Cup finals, is one of the sweetest of his career.
The 32-year-old led Serbia to the title in Sydney, Australia – first by beating old adversary Rafael Nadal and then returning to mop up the decisive doubles alongside Victor Troicki.
Djokovic served out the 6-3, 6-4 victory over Pablo Carreno Busta and Feliciano Lopez of Spain in a match that stretched into the early hours of Monday morning in Australia.
“I’ll remember this experience for the rest of my life as definitely one of the nicest moments in my career,” said Djokovic.
“I’ve been very fortunate and blessed to have an amazing career the last 15 years but playing for the country with some of my best friends… you can’t match that. That’s just too special.”
Avenging last year’s defeat
At an emotional press conference last November, Troicki spoke about letting the team down after Serbia was knocked out of the Davis Cup quarterfinals by Russia.
He and Djokovic had lost the doubles that day despite holding three match points.
The new ATP Cup finals gave Troicki and his teammates a chance to quickly make amends – and go down in history as the tournament’s first-ever winners.
“I want to thank Novak for playing with me again,” said Troicki. “I remember playing with him since we were nine, 10. To share such a moment on court with him, I cannot describe it with words.
“As you said, I’ll remember it for the rest of my life.”
Fans may have been denied a blockbuster finale to remember after Nadal opted out of the doubles.
The world’s No.1-ranked player suffered yet another hard-court loss to Djokovic, going down 6-2, 7-6(4). Nadal has not beaten Djokovic on a hard court since winning the US Open in 2013.
“I have been playing a lot of tennis the last couple of days,” explained Nadal. “My level of energy is a little bit lower than usual.”
The Spaniard had also spoken about waking up very early as his body clock adjusts to the Australian time zone.
Roberto Bautista Agut had put Spain 1-0 up in the finals after an earlier win over Dusan Lajovic, but there was to be no repeat of the heroics that saw Spain lift the Davis Cup for a sixth time last November.
The ATP will donate $500,000 to wildfire relief
Following the final, the ATP announced it would be making a donation of $500,000 to the WWF’s Australian Wildlife and Nature Recovery Fund.
The money was donated by the players on the men’s tour following the wildfires that have ravaged Australia.
“Australia feels like home for us at the start of each season,” said Djokovic. “To see the damage to wildlife and nature from the bushfires has been devastating.”
Djokovic, Nadal, Roger Federer and Serena Williams are among the star players also taking part in a charity match Wednesday to raise funds for the relief efforts.