ATP Cup 2020: Cuevas next for Rafael Nadal after winning tough opener

Rafael Nadal (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)
Rafael Nadal (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images) /

Rafael Nadal did not have it all his own way but ATP Cup favorites Spain still recorded a 3-0 win over Georgia in their first tie, with Uruguay up next.

Spain did exactly what was expected of them by beating Georgia 3-0 in their first ATP Cup match, but Rafael Nadal knew he had been given a stern examination by Nikoloz Basilashvili.

Next up for Nadal is a match against veteran Pablo Cuevas and he will be hoping to have an easier time of it when Spain take on Uruguay after eventually getting the job done against Basilashvili.

The world number one won 6-3 7-5 in one hour and 49 minutes but acknowledged afterwards he had made mistakes.

Nadal lost his serve in the first game of the match and later gave Georgia hope as Basilashvili broke twice more to recover from 5-2 down and level the second set.

Nadal, Djokovic and the best players taking part. light. ATP Cup

From there, Rafael Nadal steadied the ship with a key break at 5-5 before this time serving it out.

It was much easier for his teammate Roberto Bautista Agut, who thrashed world number 679 Aleksandre Metreveli 6-0 6-0, with Georgia’s lack of depth ruthlessly exposed. Spain also won the doubles in straight sets.

Tougher tests will follow in the knockout stages, assuming the Davis Cup winners get there with round-robin matches against Uruguay and Japan still to come.

Nadal said after his win that he had found his opening encounter of 2020 to be difficult.

"“It’s a tough first match of the season, of course. Nikoloz is a great player with great victories on Tour, so yeah not an easy start.“It’s true I had the match under control 6-3 5-2 with a double break but then he played some good games and I had some mistakes.“You have a couple of mistakes against a player like him and you are in trouble. Luckily I played a good game in the 5-5 game and was able to close the match.”"

Spain captain Francisco Roig believes a hard match where lessons can be learned is not always the worst thing.

He added: “Rafa had the chance against a very tough opponent like Basilashvili, who always kills the ball. I think after five, six games, he was in control of the game. Then, as he said, he had the match in his hands. Pity he missed a volley, it could have been 6-3 6-2.

“At the end, well, it would have been better to win easy, but also, when you have these situations, it gives you a little bit more experience on these days.”

More. What should Nadal's 2020 goal be?. light

Nadal and Spain will not be overly daunted by their next tie in Perth against Uruguay.

Uruguay’s number one player Cuevas is ranked down at 45 in the world and was thrashed by 6-0 6-1 by Yoshihito Nishioka as Japan won 3-0 in the other Group B contest.

Nishioka is only playing as the number one for Japan because Kei Nishikori withdrew due to injury.

Cuevas has a career win over Nadal to his name but that came on clay, with the Spaniard winning the last two matches on hard courts.

Rafael Nadal came into the competition in supreme form and can be expected to step it up a gear after adapting to the conditions and coming through a good battle with world number 26 Basilashvili.

ATP Cup. Predictions and best matchups. light

Novak Djokovic had an even more difficult first ATP Cup match than Nadal, beating Kevin Anderson in two close tie-breaks as Serbia won 3-0 against South Africa.

France beat Chile 2-1, Argentina got the better of Poland by the same margin and Croatia recorded an impressive 3-0 win over Austria.

Next. Seven ATP Tour predictions for 2020. dark

As part of Croatia’s victory, Borna Coric caused an upset by beating world number four Dominic Thiem in three sets.