Rafael Nadal Powers Spain Into ATP Cup Quarter-Finals
Rafael Nadal came back twice from a break down against Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka to put Spain into the ATP Cup quarter-finals in Australia.
The world number one won 7-6 (7-4) 6-4) to give Spain an unassailable 2-0 lead in the tie after Robert Bautista Agut had earlier beaten Go Soeda 6-2 6-4.
Nadal then paired up with Pablo Carreno Busta to win the doubles rubber and end Japan’s chances of a last-eight spot.
Argentina later beat Croatia to advance to the knockout stage.
Canada and Belgium sealed the two remaining quarter-final spots as the best runners-up.
The knockout stage, taking place in Sydney, begins on Thursday with Great Britain facing hosts Australia (from 23:00 GMT on Wednesday).
The ATP Cup is a new 24-nation knockout tournament that has been set up by the men’s professional tour to kick off the 2020 season.
Quarter-final line-up completed
In a winner-takes-all tie between Argentina and Croatia in Sydney, Guido Pella beat 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic 7-6 (7-1) 6-3 before Diego Schwartzman swept aside Borna Coric 6-2 6-2 to put the South Americans through to the quarter-finals.
Belgium – who were runners-up to Great Britain in Group C – clinched a place as one of the best second-placed teams, while Canada took the final spot for the knockouts.
Novak Djokovic’s Serbia, who had already qualified for the Sydney knockout stage, finished their round-robin campaign with a 2-1 win over Chile in Brisbane.
“Sydney’s got a big Serbian community, hopefully the support can be as good as it was here, even better,” said 16-time Grand Slam champion Djokovic, who beat Cristian Garin 6-3 6-3 to make it three singles victories and one doubles win so far.
France and Croatia had chances to go through but failed to take them.
France needed to beat South Africa 3-0 but lost 2-1 despite captain Gilles Simon stepping in as a late replacement for the injured Gael Monfils to beat Lloyd Harris in the opening match.
Benoit Paire failed to serve out the match twice against Kevin Anderson and had a match point saved in a 2-6 7-6 (7-1) 7-6 (7-5) loss.
Croatia meanwhile, would have gone through if they had beaten already-qualified Argentina in the doubles, but Ivan Dodig and Nikola Mektic lost to Maximo Gonzalez and Andres Molteni on a deciding tie-break.
In the tie between already eliminated Georgia and Uruguay in Group B, a fuming Pablo Cuevas packed his bag and walked off court after getting a warning from the umpire – before his opponent Nikoloz Basilashvili went after him and persuaded him to resume the match.
How the ATP Cup quarter-finals shape up
Great Britain v Australia Thurs, 9 Jan – 10am local time (Wed, 8 Jan – 23:00 GMT)
Argentina v Russia Thurs, 9 Jan – 5:30pm local time (06:30 GMT)
Serbia v Canada Fri, 10 Jan – 10am local time (Thurs, 9 Jan – 23:00 GMT)
Belgium v Spain Fri, 10 Jan – 5:30pm local time (06:30 GMT)