Spain’s Nadal secures comeback win to set up ATP Cup final against Djokovic-led Serbia

Tennis - ATP Cup - Ken Rosewall Arena, Sydney, Australia - January 11, 2020 Spain's Rafael Nadal celebrates after winning his Semi Final singles match against Australia's Alex de Minaur REUTERS/Edgar Su

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Rafael Nadal secured a come-back victory against Australia’s Alex De Minaur at the ATP Cup in Sydney on Saturday, propelling Spain into the final of the inaugural event to play the Novak Djokovic-led Serbian team.

The world’s top ranked player was ambushed early by the young Australian, who threatened to run away with the match, before the Spaniard recovered to win 4-6 7-5 6-1.

Earlier in the evening, Roberto Bautista Agut played a near flawless match to defeat a misfiring Nick Kyrgios 6-1 6-4, giving Spain an unassailable lead going into the doubles match.

The top 20-ranked De Minaur, who had previously not won a set against the Spaniard, threw his wiry frame at every shot, breaking Nadal’s serve in the first game of the match before going on to take the set.

The 20-year-old hopped into his backhands, such was his determination to throw himself forward, and launched into the air to hit his punishing forehands.

Nadal, one of the most dangerous players to serve against, remarkably did not earn a break point on the Australian’s serve until late in the second set, which he converted despite enjoying little momentum up until that point.

“He had a lot of energy, he plays with a lot of passion, sometimes a little too much,” Nadal said.

Spain has had a punishing schedule leading into the match, which included finishing the previous tie against Belgium in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Nadal reeled off four straight games at the start of the third to set up the victory as De Minaur’s error count rose, and the Spaniard found his range.

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