Rafael Nadal and sidekick Roberto Bautista Agut engineered a crushing 2-0 win for Spain on Saturday as the tennis Armada hammered under-done Georgia in an opening tie at the ATP Cup.
The Perth beatdown by the 2019 Davis Cup championship pair was clinical in its intensity.
For Nadal, it seemed like the brief off-season has been just an illusion.
“It feels like the 2019 season didn’t end yet, everything is too short,” the Spaniard said.
“But I’m super, super happy to be here in Perth for the first time in my life. Amazing experience, one of the nicest arenas that I ever played.”
Bautista Agut, a notable fast starter who won the Doha title a year ago in the first week of the 2019 campaign, needed just 71 minutes for a 6-0, 6-0 humiliation of No. 679 Aleksandre Metreveli.
The Georgian’s only career success was a Davis Cup victory last season; he is still seeking a breakthrough ATP win.
“It was a great match, one of the matches you feel well on the court,” the winner said.
“It was a great start of the season and a great start of the tournament.
The Georgian out-aced the Spanish winner 5-1, but Bautista Agut hardly let that bother him, losing only five points on serve and breaking on six of 14 chances.
“I didn’t have information about my opponent, I had some ideas, but I’d never saw him play.
“But I was focusing on my game. I knew it was important to start with a break,I was really focused at the beginning of the match.”
Nadal traded breaks with Nikolaz Basilashvili before settling into rhythm, with the ATP No. 1 prevailing 6-3, 7-5.
Basilashvili has now lost all four times he has played Nadal, including 6-1 6-0 to the Spaniard in Rome last May.
Novak Djokovic finished off a winning start for Serbia at the ATP Cup on Saturday, sending Serbia to a 2-0 winning scoreline in Brisbane against South Africa.
The world No. 2 followed up on a 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-3 opening win for teammate Dusan Lajovic over Lloyd Harris which opened the tie.
Djokovic overcame some frustration as he worked to put away 2018 Wimbledon finalist Kevin Anderson 7-6(5), 7-6(6) in a repeat of the All England club title match of two years ago.
“What a way to start the year,” Djokovic said in victory.
Anderson was playing his first match in six months after healing a knee injury and left Djokovic fuming in the opening set with linecalls in his favour which appeared to graze the line time after time.
Djokovic also had to battle other demons, with the crowd occasionally calling “out” before the point was over in the two-and-a-half hour marathon which gives him a 9-2 edge over Anderson.
Djokovic, who lost his top ATP ranking to Rafael Nadal to conclude the 2019 season less than two months ago, claimed the opening set with an ace and held his serve to take the win with an ace after a 75-minute opening struggle.
The Serb had tough going, with seven of his first eight break points going unconverted.