Nadal ensures the victory of Spain in the ATP Cup; Croatia, Japan wins

Brisbane, January 6 (AP) Weeks after leading a Davis Cup title to Spain, Rafael Nadal is doing everything possible to do it again in the ATP Cup, the newest of the men's international team competitions.

Nadal, the top-ranked player, beat Pablo Cuevas 6-2, 6-1 in Perth on Monday to secure Spain's victory in the best match of three against Uruguay before the doubles.

Spain now has two victories from two starts in Group B and then faces undefeated Japan to determine first place and automatic qualification for the playoffs in Sydney.

Roberto Bautista Agut was equally ruthless when he started Spain when he beat Franco Roncadelli, 19, with no classification, 6-1, 6-2.

Nadal won his fourth title in the Davis Cup, the traditional men's team competition, in November. He said he thrives in the team environment.

The group's six winners and the two best teams in second place qualify for the quarterfinals.

Second-grader Novak Djokovic gave Serbia a chance to win a second victory when he extended his unbeaten run at tour level against Gael Monfils to 16 wins with a 6-3, 6-2 victory at Brisbane.

Benoit Paire had given France the advantage with a 6-2, 5-7 (6), 6-4 victory in his singles against Dusan Lajovic. The Group A match will now be decided by doubles.

In Sydney, Austria won victory over Argentina with victories in both individual matches. Dominic Thiem, fourth ranked, beat Diego Schwartzman 6-3, 7-6 (3) after Dennis Novak recovered from a slow start to beat Guido Pella 0-6, 6-4, 6-4.

Both countries are 1-1 in the classification of Group E, led by undefeated Croatia.

Novak, in 101st place, said some tips from Austrian captain Thomas Muster helped calm him down after the first set.

After the first set I went to a break with Thomas, I went out and changed my game a bit and defended myself, Novak said.

I think in the end I played tennis very well.

Former US Open champion UU. Marin Cilic had too much experience for Kacper Zuk, who ranks 448th, establishing Croatia's victory over Poland with a 7-6 (8), 6-4 victory.

Cilic, who has a ranking of No. 3 in his career, but fell to 38 after a shortened injury season 2019, could only convert one of his 13 break point opportunities against Zuk, who was making his debut at the tour.

Hubert Hurkacz beat Borna Coric 6-2, 6-2 to split the individual results, but Croatia's Ivan Ivan and Nikola Mektic secured the match with a 6-2, 6-1 victory in the doubles over Hurkacz and Lukasz Kubot.

If I have to choose some things that I need to do better, it's just converting break points. He had a lot of them, Cilic said.

Otherwise, I felt that the level was quite good.

Two-time Grand Slam finalist Kevin Anderson led South Africa to victory over Chile in Group A in Brisbane, keeping his team in the playoff fight despite an initial defeat against Serbia, and Japan got its second consecutive victory with the victory in both individual matches against Georgia in Perth.

Anderson, who comes from a six-month injury layoff and pushed Djokovic in two tight sets over the weekend, beat Cristian Garin 6-0, 6-3 after Lloyd Harris beat Nicolas Jarry 6-4, 6-4. South Africa's doubles combination made it a 3-0 sweep.

Anderson said the goal now was to win the final round of the group stage to get the chance to reach the quarterfinals, which begin Thursday in Sydney.

We had to win today, so we could do it, Anderson said.

Some of that is also out of our hands, already having, well, taking defeat against Serbia.

We will recover all our intensity for our match against France. Japan continued its 3-0 sweep against Uruguay with its victory over Georgia. Go Soeda beat Aleksandre Metreveli 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 and Yoshihito Nishioka bothered Nikoloz Basilashvili, number 26, 6-2, 6-3. Georgia won the doubles to make the final result 2-1. (AP) AH AH

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