Novak Djokovic’s winning streak at the ATP Cup ended as Serbia were dumped out of the competition by Germany while Rafael Nadal was again sidelined by a back injury.
The 34-year-old missed Spain’s opening victory over Australia and the delay of their second match against Greece by a day to Friday was still not sufficient for Nadal to take part.
Spain captain Pepe Vendrell said: “He’s working very hard to recover his best feelings. Obviously he couldn’t play any matches during the week. It’s a situation that we have to study. But day by day he’s improving. We will see tomorrow if he can play.”
Spain had another injury worry with Pablo Carreno Busta also feeling his back and pulling out after one game of the doubles rubber, handing victory in the tie to Greece.
But Spain were already guaranteed a place in the semi-finals courtesy of Carreno Busta’s 6-3 6-4 victory over Michail Pervolarakis. Stefanos Tsitsipas defeated Roberto Bautista Agut 7-5 7-5 in the battle of the number ones.
Djokovic won every singles and doubles match he contested as Serbia claimed the inaugural title last year and he maintained that record with a 6-7 (3) 6-2 7-5 victory over Alexander Zverev in the singles.
But Jan-Lennard Struff defeated Dusan Lajovic 3-6 6-3 6-4 and the German pair claimed the doubles against Djokovic and Nikola Cacic 7-6 (4) 5-7 10-7.
Djokovic served consecutive double faults in the deciding tie-break, and he said: “It’s unfortunate we lost the tie. That’s what this competition is all about. It’s about the team, not about winning one match. It’s a tough one.”
The world number one now has two days off to prepare for the Australian Open but that was little consolation, with Djokovic adding: “I am upset that we lost. That’s all I can say. I’m not thinking about the Australian Open or how many days I have left.”
Germany will play Russia in the semi-finals while Spain take on Italy.