Djokovic leads Serbia into ATP Cup finals

Murray Wenzel and Michael Ramsey
Novak Djokovic has levelled Serbia's ATP Cup tie with France, beating Gael Monfils

Novak Djokovic says his passion needs no explanation after inspiring Serbia into the ATP Cup finals with a thrilling win over France sealed on his nation's traditional Christmas Day.

The world No.2, eyeing an eighth Australian Open title later this month, was impressive in a 6-3 6-2 win over world No.9 Gael Monfils to level the tie 1-1 in Brisbane on Monday night.

But it was the decisive doubles rubber that was the highlight, Djokovic partnering Viktor Troicki to beat Nicolas Mahut and Edouard Roger-Vasselin 6-3 6-7 (7-5) 10-3 in an electric battle that stretched well beyond midnight.

The victory takes Serbia to 2-0 in the inaugural teams tournament and a lock for Sydney's quarter-finals - joining unbeaten Australia - ahead of Wednesday's final group clash with Chile in Brisbane.

Upset when judged on review to have encroached and hit the ball for a winner before it crossed the net, Djokovic's outburst midway through the second set fired up both camps in the doubles decider.

They traded sublime volleys in the games that followed, France saving break points before winning the second-set tie-break.

Djokovic was the steady head in the match tie-break though as Serbia edged ahead 6-3 and cruised home on a night that eventually became the morning of Serbia's Orthodox Christmas Day.

"You can see it on the court, I don't need to talk about it too much," he said.

"I really show my emotion because I really care about playing for Serbia and being in a team with my friends.

"I grew up with Viktor, played so many doubles matches together."

Their victory also soothed the pair's soul after a tight doubles loss to Russia in the Davis Cup quarter-finals that Troicki labelled one of the toughest of his career.

"You saw the atmosphere, the Serbian people, I didn't expect so many of them and being on Christmas Day with us, post-midnight it was amazing and we want to thank them," he said.

"It did feel like playing at home."

Davis Cup champions Spain reinforced their standing as the team to beat after world No.1 Rafael Nadal piloted his nation to a 3-0 whitewash of Uruguay in Perth.

Nadal crushed world No.45 Pablo Cuevas 6-2 6-1 and Roberto Bautista Agut needed less than an hour to see off unranked 19-year-old Franco Roncadelli in a 6-1 6-2 romp.

Nadal had been scheduled to also play in the doubles but was rested, with Pablo Carreno Busta and Feliciano Lopez going on to defeat Ariel Behar and Juan Martin Fumeaux 6-1 3-6 (10-3).

The 19-time grand slam champion was pleased with what he described as an improved performance after his 6-3 7-5 win over Georgia's world No.26 Nikoloz Basilashvili on Saturday.

"I think I played against two good players and I was able to win in straight sets," Nadal said.

"That helps. That means that I am doing things more or less well and after tomorrow, another opportunity."

Spain will look to secure a finals berth on Wednesday when they meet Japan, who won their tie against Georgia to move to 2-0 in Group B.