By Dave Lindsay
World number one Novak Djokovic has given Serbia a one rubber to nil lead in the Hyundai Hopman Cup 2013 final with a hard-fought straight-sets victory over Spain’s Fernando Verdasco.
Djokovic was forced to battle every step of the way by the flashy left-hander and his class shone through, taking the match 6-3 7-5.
“It’s difficult to play against any player if he hits the winners from both sides, he was very aggressive, and serving over 200km you know consistently well so ah it was very hard for me to come back to the match,” said Djokovic.
The Serb targeted Verdasco’s forehand early in the match and it paid dividends claiming a break of serve in the fourth game.
His serve was also a feature in the first set, conceding only four points in five service games.
The longer rallies tended to go the way of Djokovic as he remained patient and displayed his usual desperation to chase every ball down.
Verdasco battled to hold serve in the opening game of the second set, saving two break points, as the match appeared to be slipping away from him.
However, the world No.24 then stepped up the power on his groundstrokes and found some chinks in Djokovic’s armour and secured an immediate break of serve.
In the early stages of the second set Verdasco reeled off winners from both wings and had all of the momentum when leading 3-0.
As expected Djokovic steadied to hold his next service game and then applied the pressure to Verdasco’s serve to break back and have the set back in the balance.
The three-time Australian Open champion served his way out of trouble in a lengthy sixth game, producing powerful serves when needed to level the set at 3-3.
Unforced errors from the racquet of Verdasco left him facing break points in the ninth game of the set before he too rattled off a couple of serves in excess of 200 kph to keep his nose in front.
Again the Spaniard found himself in trouble in his next service game and on this occasion it was all too much as he made forehand errors to hand a critical break of serve to Djokovic who confidently served out the match.
“It feels like we’re playing in a grand slam so you know I’m really delighted to be in Perth once again and hopefully Ana can bring the trophy to Serbia.”
Ana Ivanovic now has the opportunity to secure Serbia’s first Hyundai Hopman Cup when she meets Anabel Medina Garrigues.