ATP Cup 2021: Rafael Nadal Withdraws from Tuesday's Game Against Team Australia

Rafael Nadal pulled out hours before his match

In a brief statement, the 34-year-old said: "Hi all, we have decided with Team Spain and my team to not play today the first match of the ATP Cup here in Melbourne since I have a stiff lower back".

Spain will be a strong contender for every point as undefeated Roberto Bautista Agut reprises the No. 2 singles player role, and seasoned stars Pablo Carreno Busta and Marcel Granollers wait in the wings in doubles.

Nadal played an exhibition match in Adelaide on Friday, beating Austrian world number three Dominic Thiem 7-5 6-4.

Earlier, Australian Open champion Djokovic got his season off to a ideal start with a battling win over hot-shot Denis Shapovalov in the ATP Cup but world No. 3 Thiem crashed to defeat.

Serbia fans chanted and waved their national flag as Djokovic beat Denis Shapovalov 7-5, 7-5 to force a deciding doubles match, then combined with Filip Krajinovic for a 7-5, 7-6 (4) win over Milos Raonic and Shapovalov.

"I'm really happy for my performance", he said on court.

At Rod Laver Arena, the main show court at Melbourne Park where he has won a record eight Australian Open titles, he had plenty of energy to feed off.

Spain were runners-up to Serbia in the final of last year's inaugural ATP Cup.

Berrettini was thrilled to take down Thiem in the Group C tie and put Italy back on level terms with Austria at 1-1 after Dennis Novak romped past Fabio Fognini 6-3 6-2 in the morning.

Nadal had been expected to spearhead Spanish ambitions in the tournament, his main warm-up for the Australian Open before pulling out at late notice with a back problem. "This is the best way to kickstart the season, playing for your country". The Managor Bull will play its first official match of 2021 against tough competition Alex de Minor 9 a.m.

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