Tennis News

From around the world

In Hubi Poland Trusts; Matkowski Looks To ATP Cup Experience

  • Posted: Dec 30, 2021

Two years ago, Hubert Hurkacz won all three of his singles matches at the ATP Cup, but Team Poland came unstuck in the deciding doubles match in each tie. This time around, captain Marcin Matkowski believes the squad has a better chance of recording a first win.

“The guys came on 26 December, so they have already had a few good days of practice,” said Matkowski, who retired in 2019. “We played two years ago, and we have great experience and great memories from that. We played three very close matches.

“This year, we came [to Sydney] with the thought of having better results. [It] won’t be easy, but we are confident if we are playing our best we can win [this time].”

Hurkacz, who was No. 37 in the FedEx ATP Rankings at the 2020 ATP Cup, enjoyed a career-best 2021 that included three ATP Tour crowns, including the Miami Open presented by Itau (d. Sinner). With the support of Kamil Majchrzak, Kacper Zuk, Jan Zielinski and Szymon Walkow, the World No. 9 is positive about Poland’s chances.

“It’s great to be here with the whole team,” said Hurkacz. “I mean, it’s so much fun. All of us bring, I think, great energy, and we will definitely enjoy it here and, hopefully, we’ll get many wins.”

Matkowski, who captured 17 tour-level doubles titles, added, “I think we bring a much more experienced team. Hubert said he’s playing better doubles, which obviously he is, his results show that. Besides him we have Jan and Szymon, who can help us a lot in doubles. I feel very strongly about our doubles position.

“If it’s not 2-0, [but] 1-1, I think we have a very good chance of winning a tie whoever goes on court. We are confident we can learn from our experience two years ago and obviously… it’s not a problem for Hubert to play if he’s needed in two matches.

“Obviously, from experience, I know in Australia that the fans like doubles. They always support doubles players… [and] with the ATP Cup format, doubles usually is the match that decides the tie.”

With a big Polish community in Sydney, Majchrzak and Zuk are also excited about the opportunity to represent Poland in Group D. Poland plays Greece on Saturday, Georgia on Monday and Argentina on Wednesday.

“I’m looking forward to helping my team this year,” said Majchrzak. “I’m very happy that I’m fit again and I can try to help my team and play for Poland.”

Zuk admitted that the experience of playing in 2020, helped him to rise up from No. 460 to a career-high of No. 162 over the past two years. “It gave me lots of experience and confidence,” said Zuk. “I started to play much better [and] I improved a lot. I’m happy to be here again and I will try to help to our team.”

Source link

Garin On ATP Cup: 'It Is One Of My Favourite Tournaments'

  • Posted: Dec 30, 2021

Cristian Garin revealed he has enjoyed a strong off-season as he looks to regain his best form in 2022, starting at this week’s ATP Cup in Sydney, where he will lead Team Chile.

“I have been having [a] good off-season,” Garin said in Chile’s pre-tournament press conference. “I have been practising well. I ended last season with an injury, so it took a while to recover, but last month it was so good for me. I have been practising well, playing matches, practice matches, and I have been doing well. [ I am] healthy.”

Garin will face Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut on Saturday in Group A, before playing Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic and Norway’s Casper Ruud.

The World No. 17, who has played just five matches since the US Open in September due to injury, is excited to return to competitive action as he makes his second appearance at the 16-team event.

“It’s amazing to be playing with the best players,” Garin said. “This tournament is one of my favourite tournaments. It’s amazing to represent my country and play with the best players, so I just want to improve, playing against the best.

“I think our group is very tough, but we have our chances. I think we are playing well. We are a very young team, and we know each other pretty well, so I only want to compete. I will go out there and give my best.”

Jorge Aguilar will captain Chile and is relishing the challenge in Australia, saying: “I look forward to the first tie against Spain. I think Cristian has had a very good off-season and he’s very willing to do well here. Plus, we have a very good spirit among the team, good teamwork.”

Alejandro Tabilo and Tomas Barrios Vera will support Garin in Group A, with the pair both making their debuts at the event.

“It’s a great opportunity,” Tabilo said. “I have been playing a lot at Challenger [level] and [have] been doing well. It’s a good step forward, and obviously I’m going to try to do my best. I played a few ATP [Tour tournaments] last year, so I still have a little bit [of] experience, so hopefully I can use that to play my best.”

Source link

Schwartzman: ‘Under The Flag, Everything Is Different’

  • Posted: Dec 30, 2021

Diego Schwartzman is excited for the 2022 season, especially for how he is starting it.

“It’s very nice to start the year playing the ATP Cup. It’s a team tournament, playing for Argentina,” Schwartzman said. “I think everyone here who is [on] the team wants to be here and play for Argentina. Under the flag, everything is different.”

In Sydney two years ago, there were fans from several countries waving flags in the stands to make it feel like a football match inside Ken Rosewall Arena. The national pride on the line has raised the stakes for players and fans alike since the inception of the event. Schwartzman has enjoyed the event’s atmosphere in particular and is looking forward to experiencing it again this year.

“I really like Sydney. I [played] very good matches here. Obviously [the] ATP Cup, it’s very tough, because every year the best teams in the world qualify,” Schwartzman said. “It’s going to be tough, [a] good challenge, and I think it’s the best preparation for everyone who plays before [the] Australian Open.”

Although the 29-year-old has plenty of ATP Cup experience, his country’s No. 2 singles player does not. Lefty Federico Delbonis is competing in the event for the first time.

“I am very excited to be here of course. In the past few years I skipped a couple of Davis Cup [ties]. I didn’t have the opportunity to play here, and always enjoy playing [on] a team,” Delbonis said. “And now to do it again for me is a big, big challenge and I want to do it the best as possible to try to help the team.”

Federico Delbonis
Photo Credit: Andrew Eichenholz/ATP Tour
Maximo Gonzalez and Andres Molteni played all four doubles matches for Argentina in 2020, and they are excited to represent their country again. They know they will need to be at their best in Group D, which also features Greece, Poland and Georgia.

“For sure it’s going to be a big challenge,” Molteni said. “[We are] very excited to be here.”

Regardless of their results, the Argentines promised to battle for every point. Schwartzman added that they know they are not just competing for themselves, but for their teammates and country.

“We enjoy a lot when we can share moments, playing as a team, it’s totally different than all the year,” Schwartzman said. “So every moment obviously is totally different for us, playing as a team, staying in the matches every time no matter if you lose or if you win, because you have to stay.

“It’s a team match, so every moment it’s different and we are trying always to enjoy and be ready for the team no matter if you lose or if you win.”

Source link

Tsitsipas: 'We Are Just Hungrier Than Anyone Else'

  • Posted: Dec 30, 2021

With a big Greek-Australian following in Sydney and ATP Cup experience, Stefanos Tsitsipas believes that Team Greece will make a stronger impact in Sydney.

“I have faith in my team,” said Tsitsipas, who has a 3-2 record in ATP Cup singles matches. “I think we can sort it out in two matches [and] not have to go all the way to three [in each tie]. For each and every single one of us representing Greece on an ATP Cup level just means a lot. I know there is plenty of Greek-Australians that are going to go wild watching us play.

“Greece is known to excel in team events, such as football and basketball, so it’s in our nature. We love playing team events, and that’s where we leave the best out of ourselves on court. I think we have a team of young players that are just hungrier than anyone else. That’s what makes us kind of stand out and we have so much energy starting next week.”

Captain Apostolos Tsitsipas said, “It’s going to be a beautiful experience for us… The players already have the experience, having [played in] the previous years [and] playing difficult matches. It’s always an honour to play for your country, and I’m sure a lot of Greeks are watching us.”

Petros Tsitsipas, who played two doubles matches at the ATP Cup in 2019, added, “It’s a great tournament, [a] great atmosphere. The fans are really involved with the players… It’s a great opportunity to be as a team, just enjoy and give our best.”

Greece plays Team Poland, featuring Hubert Hurkacz, in Group D on Saturday, then Diego Schwartzman-led Argentina on Monday and Georgia on Wednesday.

Michail Pervolarakis, 25, is hoping that his own participation will help him rise up the FedEx ATP Rankings in 2022.

“It’s really special for me and for the rest of the guys to be playing these events, because we don’t get to do that the rest of the year,” said World No. 399 Pervolarakis. “Our goal [is] to be playing ATP events for the whole year. Being able to start the year off playing at this high level and carry this level into my next tournaments is always a goal. I’m really excited for the experience.”

Source link

Bautista Agut Targeting More Spanish Success In Sydney

  • Posted: Dec 30, 2021

Roberto Bautista Agut and Pablo Carreno Busta are both focused on going one step better than in 2020, when they helped Team Spain reach the ATP Cup final.

Bautista Agut, who leads Spain this year in the absence of Rafael Nadal, fondly remembered the inaugural edition on Thursday, saying, “I think the ATP Cup of 2020 I think was one of the best tournaments I ever played.

“The organisation and the event was amazing. We had the chance to play the group in Perth, and then the final event here in Sydney, and Spain played very well. We reached the final. We lost in the deciding doubles, and it was a great experience.”

The 33-year-old, a nine-time ATP Tour titlist, is feeling confident and looking forward to the opportunity, starting against Chile on Saturday, before then playing Norway and Serbia in Group A.

“I think we have to be very focused in our three points,” Bautista Agut said. “Every point is 33 per cent. In my case, I feel good. I feel I [am] practising well, I did a great job at home. I think I can play a good ATP Cup. I think we have a very complete team. We are all good players, and the practise has been good.”

World No. 20 Carreno Busta, who made his ATP Cup singles debut last year, when he helped Spain advance to the semi-finals, believes strong team depth is essential for success at the 16-team event.

“In this competition there are three points, it’s very important to have good team, not just a good No. 1,” Carreno Busta said. “I think that in this case, Spain has a very good team. [A] good No. 1 [in] Roberto, but also No. 2, 3, 4, and 5 [players].

“We know the No. 2 player is very important. I have a lot of responsibility, because we know that all of the opponents have a Top 10 or similar as their No. 1 [player]. We need to win the first point to go up on the score.”

Albert Ramos-Vinolas, Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and Pedro Martinez complete Team Spain, with Martinez making his ATP Cup debut. The 24-year-old, who rose to a career-high No. 58 in the FedEx ATP Rankings last season, is looking forward to the experience.

“I’m very happy to join the Spanish team,” Martinez said. “I think we have a really strong team. Both players can beat anyone on the Tour. We also have a good chance in doubles. Let’s see how the groups are. I think we have a big chance to qualify, and I believe in the Spanish team because I think it’s very strong.”

Source link

Ruud Relishing Return To Action At ATP Cup

  • Posted: Dec 30, 2021

Casper Ruud believes Norway is in a good position to have a strong run at the 16-team ATP Cup as he looks to guide Norway out of Group A in Sydney.

Ruud enjoyed a standout 2021 season, winning five tour-level titles and becoming the first Norwegian to crack the Top 10 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. The 23-year-old is the highest-ranked player in Group A and is relishing the opportunity to return to match action.

“I have three good matches to start the year, so I’m just happy to get to play some matches again,” Ruud said in Norway’s pre-tournament press conference. “Hopefully I can bring some wins for the team. I’m not going to think too much about the pressure, but I’m coming here a better player than two years ago, so I will maybe feel some pressure.”

In the inaugural edition of ATP Cup in 2020, Norway played Italy, the United States and Russia. Despite finishing third in the group, Ruud earned two wins. The World No. 8 Ruud and No. 2 singles player Viktor Durasovic both believe they will benefit from their prior experience at this year’s event.

“We were underdogs in every match we played,” Ruud said. I was able to get two good wins in Perth, which was kind of the beginning of a good year for me.”

“[It was] definitely a lot of fun, even though it was hard to enjoy to the max, because of obviously experiencing something new,” Durasovic added. “But I had few experiences like that [at the time], so I’m hoping that those experiences can prepare me a little better this time for the challenges ahead.”

Norway begins its 2022 ATP Cup quest on Saturday against Serbia, before also facing Chile and Spain. Christian Ruud, Norway’s captain, is preparing his squad of son Casper, Durasovic, Lukas Hellum-Lilleengen, Leyton Rivera and Andreja Petrovic for a hard week.

“I think we look very much forward to coming here again and playing for the second time,” captain Ruud said. “Of course we play a strong team in the first round, but I think all the players on the Norwegian team have developed. I think we are coming here with also positive energy and I believe we can win more matches this year also.”

Before arriving in Australia, Ruud’s team was training in colder conditions in Norway, but the former World No. 39 does not feel this has hampered their preparations.

“We have been practicing indoors [in Norway] and it’s cold,” Ruud said “I think only Leyton was playing some tournaments in Doha, so all others are coming from Norway with the winter. So it’s a little bit difficult, but we have done it a couple of times now before, so the players are good at adapting to the heat and outdoors. It shouldn’t be a problem for us.”

Source link

Lajovic Relives 'Amazing Experience', Now Leads Team Serbia At ATP Cup

  • Posted: Dec 30, 2021

Dusan Lajovic says that he still gets “goose bumps” thinking about winning the inaugural ATP Cup title in 2020 with Team Serbia.

“It was personally one of the greatest feelings playing in Brisbane and here in Sydney, because Serbian community is huge in both cities, and in Australia overall,” said Lajovic. “It was [an] amazing experience, especially because we won it. I get goose bumps just thinking about it, especially now, practising here in the arena and having all of the memories come back. I think that it was great for us to win [in] the first year.”

This time in Sydney, Lajovic leads Team Serbia, which features Filip Krajinovic, Nikola Cacic, Matej Sabanov and captain Ivan Sabanov.

“We [have all been] giving our best in the past days,” said Lajovic, who will step up this year and play as the No. 1 singles player at the ATP Cup. “I’m looking forward to competing with these guys together by my side. Obviously, there are some tactical differences and pressure-wise, but at the end of the day, you’ve got to go out there, play your match and try to win.”

Krajinovic, Serbia’s No. 2 singles player at the ATP Cup, added, “It’s a good challenge. It’s never easy to open the match, but I’m very excited. I’m ready for that. I knew that I will play the first match. As Dusan says, we are already playing well so far. We have a good team [and] I’m hoping that we’re going to do well here.”

Without the services of World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, World No. 33 Lajovic realises that Team Serbia won’t be in the spotlight as much, which the players are hoping to take advantage of.

“It’s never the same when you don’t have the No. 1 in your team,” said Lajovic. “Obviously, when Novak is in the team, the expectations get much higher. Then everybody is put in the spotlight… and [he is] trying to push the whole team. Right now, maybe, we are on the sidelines a little bit, and it could be good for us. It could be bad. We’ll see.”

View Schedule

Serbia begins its 2022 ATP Cup campaign against Team Norway on Saturday, then faces Chile on Monday and Spain on Wednesday. With each tie featuring two singles matches and a doubles match, Nikola Cacic recognises the importance of the doubles match.

“Doubles is very important at ATP Cup,” said Cacic. “So we are here also practising some doubles [as it] could be possible that doubles decides the winner… We have a few good players here. Matej has now broken into the Top 100 [of the FedEx ATP Doubles Rankings], and also Dusan and Filip can play good doubles.”

Sabanov added, “I’m very excited, of course. I’m also very honoured to be in this team, and I will do my best to help the team to win some matches. I think we can do some good things here.”

Source link