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10 Takeaways From Day 3 At The ATP Cup

  • Posted: Jan 05, 2020

10 Takeaways From Day 3 At The ATP Cup

A look back at the most notable stories from Day 3 in Brisbane, Perth and Sydney

The second phase of round robin ties has begun, with 12 countries contesting their second ATP Cup fixtures on Day 3. With Final Eight qualification secured for one nation, doubles drama and a number of talking points from the innovative Team Zones, Day 3 has delivered plenty of talking points across Brisbane, Perth and Sydney.

Here are 10 of the biggest takeaways from Day 3:

1) Australia Qualifies: Team Australia became the first country to book its place in the Final Eight, leaving seven spots available for the remaining 23 contenders. The home nation recorded its second 3-0 tie victory on Sunday and will meet Team Greece in its final round robin tie.

2) No Stopping De Minaur: Alex de Minaur has found his best level at the ATP Cup. The two-time Next Gen ATP Finals runner-up has recovered from a set down in both his singles matches to beat Alexander Zverev and Denis Shapovalov, but on Day 3 he also impressed fans off the court. The 20-year-old made an impressive catch from the Team Zone during John Peers and Chris Guccione’s doubles victory.

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3) Bulgarian Success: Team Bulgaria’s dream start to the ATP Cup continued on Sunday. Following its dramatic 2-1 win against Team Great Britain, Grigor Dimitrov clinched another 2-1 success against Team Moldova. The World No. 20 beat Radu Albot 6-2, 6-3 to earn an unassailable 2-0 lead, adding to Dimitar Kuzmanov’s 6-1, 7-5 win against Alexander Cozbinov.

4) Bulgaria’s Honorary Member: When Team Bulgaria’s playing captain Dimitrov is warming up for his matches, who leads the team? The answer is Dimitrov’s new coach Christian Groh. The German, who began coaching the 28-year-old last month, has been a regular fixture in the Bulgarian Team Zone offering advice to all the players during their successful start to the ATP Cup.

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5) Germany Saves 6 M.P.: Pat Rafter Arena witnessed a doubles classic on Sunday night as Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies saved six match points to overcome Michail Pervolarakis and Stefanos Tsitsipas in a decisive doubles rubber. Tsitsipas entered the match in form after levelling the tie at 1-1 with a 6-1, 6-4 win against Alexander Zverev, but the Roland Garros titlists played fearless tennis under pressure to secure a marathon 3-6, 6-3, 17-15 triumph.

6) Brits Bounce Back: After failing to convert two match points to win a decisive doubles match against Team Bulgaria on Day 1, Joe Salisbury and Jamie Murray edged Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen 6-3, 7-6(7) to move Team Great Britain to 1-1 in Group C. In singles, Daniel Evans upset David Goffin 6-4, 6-4 after Steve Darcis opened the tie with a 6-2, 6-4 victory against Cameron Norrie.

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7) Reliable Russians: For the second straight tie, Karen Khachanov and Daniil Medvedev completed singles victories to obtain an unassailable 2-0 advantage. Khachanov withstood an impressive start from Taylor Fritz to defeat the American 3-6, 7-5, 6-1, before Medvedev broke John Isner on four occasions to win 6-3, 6-1.

8) Italy On The Board: After losing to Team Russia in its first tie, Team Italy responded with a 2-1 triumph against Team Norway. Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini overcame Day 1 doubles winners Viktor Durasovic and Casper Ruud to add to Stefano Travaglia’s 6-1, 6-1 success against Durasovic.

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9) Another Top 20 Win: Ruud followed his comeback victory against World No. 19 John Isner with an impressive 6-2, 6-2 win against World No. 12 Fognini. The 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals qualifier, who trains at the Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar, has won three of the four matches he has played at this event.

10) Best For Last: Following John Millman’s 6-4, 6-2 success against Felix Auger-Aliassime and De Minaur’s 6-7(6), 6-4, 6-2 comeback win against Shapovalov,Peers and Guccione finished Australia’s tie with a volleying masterclass at Pat Rafter Arena. Serving at 9/8 in a final-set tie-break against Auger-Aliassime and Adil Shamasdin, the Australians soaked up the pressure from their opponents with solid net play to claim the win.

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Barty to donate all her Brisbane prize money to bushfire fund

  • Posted: Jan 05, 2020

Australian world number one Ashleigh Barty will donate all of her prize money from the Brisbane International to the bushfire relief fund.

The event offers a pot of 1,434,900 Australian dollars (£763,300).

“There are a lot of bigger things going on in Australia right now that we need to take care of,” Barty said.

Five-time Grand Slam winner Maria Sharapova says she plans to donate an initial A$25,000 and asked men’s world number two Novak Djokovic to match it.

Since September, fires in Australia have killed at least 24 people, with dozens more missing, and there is a widely reported estimate that 480 million animals have died.

More than 1,200 homes have been destroyed and millions of hectares of land scorched.

Barty, 23, is the top seed in the singles at the Brisbane International and will play alongside Dutch partner Kiki Bertens in the doubles.

“It’s been really terrible, it really has. For me, this started two or three months ago,” said Barty, who won her first Grand Slam at last year’s French Open.

“We have to remember, this has been going on for a long time across our whole country.

“The first I saw of it was actually flying home from the Fed Cup final [in November], from Perth back to the east coast of Australia, and we could see some of the smoke and some of the fires from the plane. So that really hit home with me.”

  • Australia bushfires: What you need to know

Barty also says she donated A$30,000 (£15,960) to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals at the end of last year.

“Obviously the worst of it is still out there at the moment,” she added.

“Now it’s not just wildlife [that] have lost lives and lost homes, but it’s also affected Australians with their lives and their homes.”

Reigning Wimbledon champion Simona Halep, not known for hitting many aces, has also pledged her support in a novel way – by donating every time she shouts at her Australian coach, Darren Cahill, during a match.

Czech two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova is the latest player to pledge to donate money for every ace hit during the Australian summer.

Australian number two Nick Kyrgios started the initiative when he said he would donate A$200 (£106) for each ace.

Tennis Australia committed a A$100 (£53) donation for every ace served at the ATP Cup in Brisbane, Perth and Sydney.

A total of 426 were hit on the opening two days, meaning A$42,600 (£22,660) has been raised for the Australian Red Cross.

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Germans Save 6 M.P. To Hold Off Tsitsipas-Led Greece

  • Posted: Jan 05, 2020

Germans Save 6 M.P. To Hold Off Tsitsipas-Led Greece

Mies/Krawietz hold their nerve to prevail

Germans Andreas Mies/Kevin Krawietz saved six match points and overcame a partisan Greek crowd to beat Greece’s Michail Pervolarakis/Stefanos Tsitsipas and give Germany its first tie victory at the 2020 ATP Cup.

Mies/Krawietz, 2019 Nitto ATP Finals qualifiers and reigning Roland Garros champions, fell behind 0/5 in the Match Tie-break as the Greek faithful roared and waved their blue and white flags. But the Germans stepped up and saved match points at 8/9, 10/11, 11/12, 12/13, 13/14, 14/15 before winning their second match point to clinch the team win 3-6, 6-3, 17-15.

“I’m very proud how we came back and we fought hard. And Boris believed in us, the whole team was behind us all the way through and I’m so happy to win it in the end,” Mies said.

It’s an honour to be part of this team and to play these type of matches. That’s what you practise for and that’s what you play for all these years, to be in this position and to win the match like this. There’s nothing better to finish the match point in the end.”

Germany’s captain Boris Becker said the team maintained belief against all night against Greece and after its 0-3 tie defeat to Australia on Saturday.

“If it ends like this I don’t mind staying all night long here,” Becker said of the doubles match, which finished around 11:30 p.m. “A big compliment to my players here that they kept their nerves. Most other teams would have given up, and they kept their nerves, they kept fighting, they kept believing, and they played well at the end.

“The whole team, even after the 3-0 against Australia, we stuck together. We worked it yesterday, we had dinner together, and then we spoke about how we wanted to approach today, and everybody believed.”

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Earlier in singles, Tsitsipas made it five straight wins against World No. 7 Alexander Zverev 6-1, 6-4 to put Greece within one match win of its first tie victory.

I’m proud of my singles. Doubles went good as well. I’m very proud of myself the way I played and at the same time I feel disappointed. I came so close and, obviously, we’re not the favourites, but we could have been the ones that made the surprise today and we didn’t, which is such a shame,” Tsitsipas said.

“It was nuts. People loved it. We got a lot of support, more than them, and that’s what makes it more terrible.”

The reigning Nitto ATP Finals champion won 83 per cent of his first-serve points against Zverev and broke four times as the German’s struggles with double faults – 10 for the night – persisted.

“My serving isn’t back yet. Simple as that. I’m doing double faults. I’m serving 120 kilometers an hour, that’s not really going to cut it,” Zverev said.

Jan-Lennard Struff started the tie by earning his first victory of the 2020 ATP Tour season, a 6-4, 6-1 win against Pervolarakis. Struff overcame a slow start in which he fell behind a break at 2-3.

But the 29-year-old calmed his nerves and broke twice in the opening set against Pervolarakis, who went 7-8 on the ATP Challenger Tour last season.

“He was playing very aggressive and I didn’t find him keen in the first game and I told myself that 3-2 down… I said to myself, ‘I need to find a way for to go out there and to battle back now.’ And I did find a way and it was very important for me to get myself up again,” Struff said.

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It was all Struff from there as the German won nearly 70 per cent (37/55) of his service points for the match.

Struff finished 2019 as the German No. 2 for the first time and at a career-high year-end FedEx ATP Ranking of No. 35. The 6’5” right-hander fell to Aussie Nick Kyrgios in his opening match. 

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Khachanov Battles, Medvedev Almost Perfect In Team Russia Win

  • Posted: Jan 05, 2020

Khachanov Battles, Medvedev Almost Perfect In Team Russia Win

Medvedev commits just two unforced errors against Isner in Perth

Karen Khachanov and Daniil Medvedev helped Team Russia to a 2-1 victory over Team United States in Group D at the inaugural ATP Cup in Perth on Sunday night.

Khachanov battled back once again to record his second singles win in Perth for a 3-6, 7-5, 6-1 victory over Taylor Fritz in one hour and 52 minutes, while Medvedev broke down John Isner’s serve, committing just two unforced errors in a 6-3, 6-1 win over just 60 minutes at the RAC Arena.

Americans Austin Krajicek and Rajeev Ram prevented a clean sweep for Russia by winning the doubles match over Khachanov and Medvedev 6-3, 6-4 in 67 minutes.

When asked if he would tinker with the doubles team for the Norway tie on Tuesday, Russia’s captain, former World No. 1 Marat Safin, said: “I think for the moment I want them [Medvedev and Khachanov] to play as many match as they can so they get used to it for this tournament and their future careers, if they decide to play doubles at some point together.”

Regardless of the score, if Russia beats Norway on Tuesday, Russia wins Group D and travels to Sydney for the Final Eight of the ATP Cup.

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Medvedev in Perth

World No. 5 Medvedev was in excellent form in the second singles match, hitting 24 winners and committing just two unforced errors in a 60-minute victory over Isner.

“I think I played great,” said Medvedev. “To beat John with such score is a really great achievement. I knew before the match I just had to try return as much as possible. It worked out well. On my serve, I had only one tight game, missed some first serves. If not, I think the match was under my control. So I’m really happy for the team that we got the important win.

“I was really expecting some maybe three tie-breaks or something like that. I played [Reilly] Opelka last year in three tie-breaks. I played [Milos] Raonic with tie-breaks. I’m really happy that I managed to kind of read his serve, returned really well and win without a tie-break.”

Medvedev soon created opportunities to break Isner’s serve, going close in the third game of the first set. The Russian then won five straight games from 2-3 in the first set to 1-0 in the second set. Isner, who struck 33 aces in his opening match against Casper Ruud of Norway on Friday, won 14 of 27 service points and hit five aces against Medvedev, who broke at 2-1 in the second set.

“I got my ass kicked out there,” said Isner. “He did what he does well, which is make a lot of balls, that’s kind of how he was playing last year. I wasn’t even close tonight. Generally, with my game, I can keep matches close and make it depend on a few points here or there, but that wasn’t the case tonight… I didn’t quite serve as well as I needed to, there’s no doubt. I can certainly serve better.”

The 23-year-old Medvedev, who rose to a career-high No. 4 in the FedEx ATP Rankings last year, compiled a 59-21 match record in 2019, including four titles.

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Fritz got off to a quick start in the first singles match, showing great variation on his serve and a willingness to attack the net to keep Khachanov on the back foot. Khachanov, who’d won their previous match 6-2, 6-4 at the Rolex Shanghai Masters three months ago, began to work his way into the match, but Fritz’s shot-making was too strong in the 33-minute first set. At 5-3, Fritz was taken to deuce for the second consecutive game, but he held firm saving one break point.

“He started like on the 10th speed,” said Khachanov. “In the car you have only six, but he started with 10. And he was hitting everything like full power and he didn’t give me any rhythm… I think at the end of the first set I already had him, I had a break point. If I would have broken, maybe I would have even turned it around earlier.

Fritz, standing on top of his backhand and striking cleanly, broke Khachanov for a 3-2 advantage in the second set, but was immediately clawed back. Khachanov could not convert a set point on Fritz’s serve at 5-4, but his greater groundstroke depth and power led to a decider.

“I played well since the beginning, he just played more aggressive, faster, hitting to the sides and didn’t miss. I stepped in a little bit more, started to play with more trajectory to push him back a little bit from the baseline, and, in general, I think I pumped myself up to play, to increase to an even higher level. I’m really proud of that.”

Khachanov won five straight games from 5-5 in the second set to 3-0 in the third set, dragging Fritz out wide to open up the court. On Friday, Khachanov recovered from 2-5 down in the first set — and saved one set point at 3-5 — en route to a 7-5, 6-3 victory over Italian Stefano Travaglia.

“I started out like the first set-and-a-half playing just really, really well,” said Fritz. “I was stepping into everything. I felt like I couldn’t miss a backhand, was hitting it really hard and crosscourt, and then, just like anytime I kind of got a look at a forehand, I was just crushing it. It felt great. It’s definitely the kind of tennis that I like to envision myself playing and I want myself to play.”

“But as the match went on I felt like he made some adjustments in the point structuring, started moving his backhand down the line a bit more. As the balls were getting worn out, I felt it was a lot tougher for me to penetrate through. I felt like I wasn’t getting as many free points off my serve. He started serving a bit better. He just made some adjustments and I didn’t quite keep my level.”

The United States lost 1-2 to Norway in its first Group D tie in Perth on Friday. Fritz beat Viktor Durasovic in that tie.

Khachanov hit 12 aces and Fritz 11 aces, meaning $2,300 towards the Aces for Bushfire Relief initiative, going directly to the Australian Red Cross bushfire disaster relief and recovery efforts.

“I think that it’s the greatest idea that came into tennis, to support this cause, because, unfortunately this is happening in Australia, and I just wish to serve as many aces as possible to give more money from my side.”

Fritz said: “It’s great what the tournament’s doing. I think I served eight the other day, so it’s almost already $2,000 that I’ve helped contribute to this. It’s great to see that it’s finally getting some awareness outside of Australia. Worldwide, people are pitching in and doing their part.”

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Why Massu's Second-Serve Return Is Still First Class

  • Posted: Jan 05, 2020

Why Massu’s Second-Serve Return Is Still First Class

Infosys ATP Insights examines the numbers behind the Chilean’s second-serve return

Nicolas Massu’s stunning second-serve return benchmark has now stood the test of time for 16 straight seasons.

An Infosys Insights deep dive analysis from 1991-2019 into the single season record for second-serve return points won finds Massu at the top of the tree, winning an astonishing 60.68 per cent of second-serve return points in 2003. Massu, from Chile, currently coaches world No. 4, Dominic Thiem.

Massu’s dominant 2003 season included taking two ATP Tour titles in Palermo and Amersfoort. He also finished runner-up at the ATP Masters 1000 event in Rome, in addition to Bucharest and Kitzbühel. Massu’s ATP Ranking dropped as low as No. 105 in March 2003, but he finished that season strongly at No. 12. His career-best ranking of No. 9 came in early 2014.

It’s interesting that players in the current era that excel at returning second serves, such as Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Diego Schwartzman, have not yet been able to put up big enough numbers to challenge Massu’s record.

In fact, only Novak Djokovic, in 2016, features in the leading eight seasons of second-serve return points won since 1991, when statistics were first recorded in our sport.

Andre Agassi has finished the season first in second-serve return points won more than any other player on Tour, achieving the coveted honor six times. Significantly, the American is the only player besides Massu to breach the vaunted 60 per cent threshold in a season, winning 60.06 per cent in 1993. In fact, Agassi holds down second, third and fourth positions from 1991-2019.

Nadal has finished the season first in second-serve return points won five times, with the first coming in 2005, where he won 56.62 per cent of his second-serve return points. Fast forward to the 2018 season and Nadal once again finished first in this specific category, winning 56.59 per cent.

Three other Spaniard’s have also finished first in this category, with David Ferrer topping the list three times in 2006, 2007 and 2013. The other two Spaniards to lead the single season list in second-serve return points won were Alberto Berasategui in 1997 (58.36%) and Juan Carlos Ferrero in 2001 (55.31%).

The 2019 season leader was Diego Schwartzman, winning 56.05 per cent of second-serve return points. He also took top honours in 2017, winning slightly more at 56.13 per cent.

Too often we presume that players in the current decade naturally outperform players from the previous decade. Not in this case, as Massu’s record from 2003 just survived another season.

Season Leader: Second- Serve Return Points Won 1991-2019

Year Player Win Percentage
2003 N. Massu 60.68%
1993 A. Agassi 60.06%
1995 A. Agassi 59.66%
1994 A. Agassi 58.6%
2016 N. Djokovic 58.51%
1997 A. Berasategui 58.36%
1996 T. Muster 57.97%
1992 A. Agassi 57.92%
2014 N. Djokovic 57.62%
2011 N. Djokovic 57.54%
1999 A. Agassi 57.22%
2007 D. Ferrer 57.06%
2015 N. Djokovic 57.05%
1998 A. Agassi 57.03%
2009 R. Nadal 56.8%
2004 D. Nalbandian 56.66%
2005 R. Nadal 56.62%
2018 R. Nadal 56.59%
2013 D. Ferrer 56.22%
2006 D. Ferrer 56.21%
2017 D. Schwartzman 56.13%
2012 A. Murray 56.08%
2019 D. Schwartzman 56.05%
1991 P. McEnroe 55.72%
2008 R. Nadal 55.5%
2010 R. Nadal 55.35%
2001 J. Carlos Ferrero 55.31%
2000 B. Black 55.03%
2002 G. Gaudio 54.98%

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Salisbury/Murray Clinch Tie For Great Britain In Sydney

  • Posted: Jan 05, 2020

Salisbury/Murray Clinch Tie For Great Britain In Sydney

Brits overcome disappointment of Friday’s doubles defeat

Jamie Murray and Joe Salisbury were positioned to clinch Great Britain’s first tie of the ATP Cup against Bulgaria, but they let slip two match points. On Sunday evening, they missed out on two match points again. But this time, the third chance was the charm.

Murray and Salisbury defeated Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen 6-3, 7-6(7) in one hour and 32 minutes to seal Great Britain’s 2-1 win against Belgium.

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Great Britain appeared in trouble in the tie when World No. 157 and Belgian captain Steve Darcis upset Cameron Norrie in the first singles match of the night. But a splendid effort from Daniel Evans and a bounce-back effort from Murray and Salisbury spurred them to victory.

“Evo played an amazing match today. Me, personally, I don’t know how Joe felt, but I was, like, ‘I cannot let that slide.’ We had another chance at it to win a tie, and we can’t let it go again,” Murray said. “We’ve got to win that match and make his performance count for something.”

Darcis beat World No. 53 Norrie 6-2, 6-4 to give Belgium the advantage. The veteran needed more than three hours to get through his first ATP Cup match on Friday. But he needed only one hour and 12 minutes to beat Norrie.

<a href=''>Steve Darcis</a>

Darcis has announced his intention to retire after the 2020 Australian Open, but he was looking in fine form. He earned his best win by FedEx ATP Ranking since triumphing against then-World No. 50 Adrian Mannarino at an ATP Challenger Tour event in Lisbon last May.

For every question Norrie posed in the match, Darcis had an answer. The Belgian put his backhand slice to great use, keeping the lefty from being too aggressive, and waiting for the perfect time to take advantage of an opening. That also kept Norrie, who beat Bulgaria’s Dimitar Kuzmanov on Friday, from finding a rhythm from the baseline. 

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Evans looked strong in the early going against former World No. 3 Grigor Dimitrov on Friday, before the Bulgarian turned it on to win in three sets. The Brit wouldn’t let the same thing happen again on Sunday.

Evans defeated World No. 11 David Goffin 6-4, 6-4 to level the tie at 1-1. It is Evans’ first Top 20 win since eliminating then-World No. 16 Nikoloz Basilashvili at Wimbledon last year, and it sets up a deciding doubles match in Ken Rosewall Arena. 

“I felt the level was good out there, I’d say one of the highest levels I’ve played. It felt that way, and obviously it made it pretty sweet to have everyone there behind.
And in this new format, I think it’s a pretty good way to play having the seats behind in the corners,” Evans said. “It’s pretty cool. It definitely helped to get me through the match.”

The 29-year-old had never played Goffin before, and his unorthodox game style proved plenty vexing for the Belgian. Evans, who only won 57 per cent of his service points, utilised his dagger-like backhand slice much like Steve Darcis did for Belgium earlier in the evening to play the match at his pace. Only when he felt he was in an advantageous position did the Brit rip a forehand to try to take it to Goffin.

Evans successfully broke on all five of his opportunities to beat the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals runner-up after one hour and 48 minutes, leaping a few times in the air to celebrate after converting his fifth match point.

Murray and Salisbury then finished it off against an accomplished duo in Gille/Vliegen, who won three ATP Tour titles in 2019. Murray and Salisbury have both qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals separately, and they showed their level by not facing a break point against the Belgians.

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10 Things That Matter On Day 4 Of ATP Cup

  • Posted: Jan 05, 2020

10 Things That Matter On Day 4 Of ATP Cup

Groups A, B and E return to action across Brisbane, Perth and Sydney

The second phase of round robin matches comes to a close at the ATP Cup on Monday, with 12 countries aiming to boost their chances of reaching the Final Eight in Sydney.

Here are the 10 things that matter most ahead of Day 4 at the ATP Cup.

1) Final Eight Qualification: Serbia and France, who meet each other in the evening session at Pat Rafter Arena, can secure their spots at the Final Eight on Day 4. Team Serbia qualifies as Group winner if it defeats France and South Africa defeats Chile. Team France qualifies as Group Winner if it defeats Serbia and Chile defeats South Africa.

2) Building On Success: Alongside Serbia and France, Spain, Croatia, Japan and Argentina will all be hoping to boost their chances of reaching the Final Eight in Sydney by moving to 2-0 in their groups.

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3) Getting to 1-1: For the six teams that made losing starts to their ATP Cup campaigns on Day 2, their second ties provide an opportunity to move up the group tables and increase their chances of booking a Final Eight position.

4) Using Technology: With the introduction of Team Zones and Video Review at the ATP Cup, the 12 nations competing on Monday will have a unique opportunity to digest tactical information and overturn incorrect decisions. Guido Pella took advantage of the tablet device in Team Argentina’s Team Zone to look back at previous errors and create a game plan to beat Kamil Majchrzak on Day 3. In the same tie, Team Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz successfully used Video Review.

5) South Africa v Chile: Both countries will be aiming to win their first tie at the ATP Cup in Brisbane. Lloyd Harris and Nicolas Jarry will open the tie, before Kevin Anderson and Cristian Garin contest the No. 1 singles match. Both matches will be maiden ATP Head2Head encounters.

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6) Serbia v France: Depending on the result of South Africa and Chile’s tie, Serbia or France will enter Pat Rafter Arena knowing a win will confirm top spot in Group A. Benoit Paire and Dusan Lajovic open the tie, which is headlined by Novak Djokovic and Gael Monfils’ 16th ATP Head2Head clash. Despite many close encounters, Djokovic enters the crucial meeting with an unbeaten 15-0 record against the Frenchman.

7) Japan v Georgia: Following mixed fortunes on Day 2, Japan and Georgia will meet in the first tie at RAC Arena. After dropping just one game in his ATP Cup opener, Yoshihito Nishioka will meet Nikoloz Basilashvili in the No. 1 singles contest.

8) Spain v Uruguay: After a 3-0 win against Georgia, Spain will face Uruguay in the night session. World No. 1 Rafael Nadal enters his match against Pablo Cuevas with a 4-1 ATP Head2Head record. Roberto Bautista Agut faces Martin Cuevas in the first match of the tie.

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9) Croatia v Poland: Croatia will attempt to keep the momentum going against Poland, following its 3-0 victory over Austria on Day 2. Marin Cilic opens against Kamil Majchrzak, before Borna Coric faces Hurkacz. Coric, who stunned World No. 4 Dominic Thiem in his 2020 opener, owns a 1-0 ATP Head2Head record against Hurkacz.

10) Austria v Argentina: Austria will attempt to bounce back from an opening loss to Croatia against Day 2 winners Argentina. Thiem will face good friend Diego Schwartzman for the eighth time in their ATP Head2Head rivalry (Thiem leads 5-2). Following wins for Thiem in their opening three contests, three of the past four meetings between the pair have required a deciding set.

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ATP Cup: Great Britain's Cameron Norrie loses opener in must-win tie

  • Posted: Jan 05, 2020

Great Britain made the worst possible start to their must-win ATP Cup tie against Belgium as Cameron Norrie lost in straight sets to Steve Darcis.

Britain lost to Bulgaria in their opening tie of the inaugural 24-nation tournament on Saturday, and will be eliminated by another defeat.

World number 53 Norrie was beaten 6-2 6-4 by Darcis, ranked 157th.

Britain need Dan Evans to beat David Goffin to stay in the tie, before Jamie Murray and Joe Salisbury play doubles.

If British number one Evans loses to world number 11 Goffin, then Belgium will have an unassailable 2-0 lead in the best-of-three tie in Sydney, Australia.

The ATP Cup features six groups of four teams, who each play three round-robin ties in an event played across three Australian cities, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth. The six group winners, plus the best two runners-up, will progress to the quarter-finals.

If Belgium beat Britain then they will have won both of their opening two ties, as did Bulgaria following their 2-1 win over Moldova in Sunday’s day session in Sydney.

That meant a victory for 24-year-old Norrie against Belgium player-captain Darcis, 35, in the opening match of Sunday’s evening session would have given Tim Henman’s team a strong platform from which to build on in this tie.

However, he was outclassed by an inspired Darcis – who is set to retire after the upcoming Australian Open – and saw his serve broken twice in each set to lose in one hour and 12 minutes.

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Banana-Lover Millman: 'I'm A Nibbler'

  • Posted: Jan 05, 2020

Banana-Lover Millman: ‘I’m A Nibbler’

Aussie earns his first ATP Cup win on Sunday

Australians have two more reasons to be proud of Queensland’s John Millman. Firstly, the 30-year-old subbed in for an injured Nick Kyrgios (back) on Sunday morning to give the home team a 1-0 lead against Canada at the ATP Cup in Brisbane.

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, depending on which industry writes your cheque, the Aussie gave a full-throated endorsement, both on and off the court, for what Queensland’s banana industry can do for your tennis game.

In muggy conditions inside Pat Rafter Arena, Millman ran down everything against Felix Auger-Aliassime, eliciting 42 unforced errors compared to 23 winners from the #NextGenATP star. Millman’s training in his hometown of Brisbane and his nutrition, which always includes bananas, paid off for the 30-year-old.

You’re losing a lot of fluids. So being in Queensland, I love my bananas, obviously,” Millman said.

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Australia has 13,000 hectares of banana production, according to the Australian Banana Growers’ Council, and 94 per cent of it is located in the northeastern state of Queensland.

Millman’s banana-eating is so prolific, he’s received playful criticism on his technique. A video circulated late last year of Millman chowing down on the fruit. But he’s not stopping.

I’m a nibbler,” Millman said. “I don’t like massive chunks because I feel like I have to chew so much, so yeah, I nibble a banana.

There’s a video somewhere. There’s someone who was poking fun at me, that’s the Aussie way, isn’t it, a good bit of banter. If that’s one of my worst traits, then I can live with that.”

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His banana eating aside, Millman has a reputation for being one of the fittest men on the ATP Tour. He memorably outlasted Roger Federer under similar conditions to make the 2018 US Open quarter-finals.

It’s just important to go through your routines and know what works for you. I haven’t had too many problems in the past with my nutrition and how my body reacts in these conditions. You’re always going to feel it sometimes. But what you do is you control what you can control and that’s what I try to do,” Millman said on Sunday.

Hopefully, you’ve done the hard work, and you look after the nutrition side, and you do the hard work off the court, and you do your physical work, and hopefully it combines for a successful season in summer, and in some of the trickiest conditions that we play throughout the year.”

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Travaglia Gives Team Italy Early Lead In Perth

  • Posted: Jan 05, 2020

Travaglia Gives Team Italy Early Lead In Perth

Fognini looks to beat Ruud for unassailable lead

Stefano Travaglia gave Team Italy the advantage in its bid to secure a first Group D tie win on a hot Sunday in Perth at the inaugural ATP Cup.

World No. 84 Travaglia lost just two of his first-service points (15/17) against Viktor Durasovic of Team Norway in a 6-1, 6-1 victory over 57 minutes at the RAC Arena, where temperatures hit 34°C (93°F).

Fabio Fognini, whose wife, former WTA pro Flavia Pennetta, gave birth to their second child — a daughter named Farah — on 23 December, will next look to clinch the tie for Team Italy with a win over Casper Ruud, who saved two match points to overcome John Isner of Team United States on Friday. Fognini lost to World No. 5 Daniil Medvedev in three sets.

The 24-team event is being played in Brisbane, Perth and Sydney from 3-12 January, with the Final Eight beginning on Thursday in Sydney.

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“Today was different conditions than two days ago against Khachanov,” said Travaglia. “The court was faster, the balls faster and the sun was so hot… I started very well, having prepared yesterday with my captain and my coach in the strategy room. I was solid from the first point. I just tried to play my tennis, with my feet inside the court and I tried to go to the net.”

Travaglia, who lost to Team Russia’s Karen Khachanov in the first tie, dominated from the start as nerves once again affected Durasovic, who committed 16 unforced errors in the 29-minute opener. Travaglia completed the set with his fifth winner, a crosscourt forehand volley winner.

Forehand errors continued to stack up for Durasovic, two days on from his loss to Taylor Fritz of Team United States. Travaglia won seven straight games form 2-1 in the first set to 3-0 in the second set.

Team Norway defeated Team United States 2-1 in Group D on Friday, while Team Italy lost 0-3 to Team Russia

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