The Spaniard Rafael Nadal celebrated during the victory over Nikoloz Basilashvili Georgia played their ATP Cup tennis match in Perth, Australia, Saturday, January 4, 2020. (AP Photo / Trevor Collens)
Rafael Nadal, number 1 in the world, prevailed on the second day of the first ATP Cup on Saturday with a 6: 3, 7: 5 victory against Nikoloz Basilashvili against the sluggish start of his season.
The 19-time Grand Slam winner prevailed against Georgia after the ninth world champion, Roberto Bautista Agut, won 6-0 and 6-0 against Aleksandre Metreveli in 71 minutes.
Nadal was forced to take part in the competition for one hour and 49 minutes. His first goal of the season was Roger Federer's record grand slam record of 20 titles at the Australian Open later this month.
“It was a tough first match of the season. It was not an easy start, ”said Nadal. "I had some mistakes, but I was able to close them."
It was his first game since he led the Spanish Davis Cup title alongside Bautista Agut in November in his own country.
“We had great experiences playing in a team and representing our country and here we are again. We want to do our best, ”he said.
Nadal started slowly against Basilashvili and stopped in the opening game to reassure the crowd in his first game in Perth.
But he bounced back immediately and won the break with a crackling winner across the board.
Number 26 in the world, Basilashvili, who had previously been beaten by Nadal twice, was unafraid and impressively countered on the baseline to stay competitive.
However, Nadal made his move with a break in the eighth game to gain control and to win the first blood shortly thereafter.
His momentum continued when he took the lead 5-2 in the second set but couldn't play it twice before finally tackling Basilashvili's spirited challenge.
Bautista Agut has probably defeated number 679 Metreveli in the preliminary round, who played his first match on the ATP Tour.
The 26-year-old Metreveli got up and running and had the unique opportunity to get on the board early, but lost a 15-minute marathon second leg. From there it was a one-way street when Bautista Agut took command with targeted basic strikes to rattle his inconsistent opponent.
"I asked players who knew him for information because I had never seen him play before," said Bautista Agut. "I focused on my game and played a great match."
Japan also started strongly after defeating Uruguay in the previous Group B. World number 73 Yoshihito Nishioka defeated Pablo Cuevas 6-0, 6-1 in just 54 minutes.
Nishioka completed a master class on discouraged Cuevas, but was supported by his weak opponent, who failed to hit a winner during a bleak first set.
Left-handed Nishioka made number 45 in the world and took the draw after Go Soeda led Japan with a comfortable 6-1, 6-3 win over Martin Cuevas, Pablo's younger brother.
Soeda had replaced number 13 in the world, Kei Nishikori, with an elbow injury.
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