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Adios To The Legend Of 'Gee-Gee-El'

  • Posted: Jan 01, 2022

“Gee-Gee-El! Gee-Gee-El!” used to be a common sound at the Australian Open. Whenever Guillermo Garcia Lopez set foot in the season’s first Grand Slam in January, a group of about 15 local fans followed him wherever he went in Melbourne Park. They would chant his initials every time he played. However, those fans received some bad news for 2022; he will not be back to play in Australia. The reason? The 38-year-old Spaniard is hanging up his racket.

“After my first win at the Australian Open (v. World No. 5 Carlos Moya) in 2005, a group of Australian guys started coming to watch me train,” Garcia Lopez told “Whenever I played there were 15 people with a photo of me printed on their T-shirts. The people are very lively there and they made a lot of noise in the matches. It’s funny, because they came out of nowhere and followed me at every match.”

‘GGL, you have to come again this year.’

‘No, no, I won’t be going anymore.’

‘What do you mean?’

‘I’m retiring.’

This is how they discovered that their hero is saying adios to professional tennis. He does so with five ATP Tour titles under his belt: Kitzbühel 2009, Bangkok 2010, Casablanca 2014, Zagreb 2015 and Bucharest 2015, and with a total of 297 wins from 654 matches on Tour, allowing him to peak at No. 23 in the ATP Rankings.

Apart from the trophies, five memories from his career are eternally etched into his mind. The first of them came in 2005, 17 years ago. He was still yet to break into the Top 100 and Chennai was the first event on the schedule. Only Moya was able to stop him, beating him 4-6, 6-2, 6-7(2) in the semi-finals. A few weeks later, having come through qualifying, he would face the same opponent in the second round of the Australian Open.

“That’s where things clicked in my career. I’d had the experience of being close to beating him a few weeks before and, although it’s not the same as playing in a Grand Slam, I knew it could happen,” reveals García Lopez. “I had a good match, maybe things didn’t go so well for him, and that day I realised that I could be a professional and have a brilliant career if I continued on that path.” Garcia Lopez won 7-5, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.

“I achieved my goal of reaching the Top 100, it was the first time I’d beaten a Top 10 player and, also, it was Moya, who was a legend in our country. I thought I had achieved something very good and if I kept that up I could do great things,” the Spaniard admits of his first big win.

Garcia Lopez

Once Garcia Lopez had established himself as one of the Top 100 player in the ATP Rankings, he was consistent enough in the following years to move into the Top 50, where he would enjoy another unforgettable day. On February 3, 2006, he defeated Andre Agassi in Delray Beach, 6-4, 6-2, “I beat him on hard court and in the USA. I played great in that match.”

Then in 2009 Garcia Lopez experienced another career-defining day. In Kitzbühel, he won his first title, beating Julien Benneteau 3-6, 7-6(1), 6-3 in the final, another of his unforgettable moments. “It was incredible,” he says of a week in which he also saw off Bjorn Phau, Martín Vasallo Arguello, Victor Hanescu and Mikhail Youzhny.

But if there was one victory that catapulted him into the elite, it came in the semi-finals in Bangkok against the then World No. 1 Rafael Nadal in October 2010, 2-6, 7-6(3), 6-3. “I’d achieved one of my biggest goals, because I beat a world number one, who was also Nadal, and who had just won his first US Open,” Garcia Lopez said. “It was amazing. He was playing really well at that time.”

He made the most of the occasion by claiming his second title, beating Jarkko Nieminen 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 in the final. “It gave me huge confidence because I thought that I could aim high and that my game was much better than just the Top 50, which was where I was at the time. And in the next tournaments I had great results.” Garcia Lopez added. He strung together quarter-finals in Tokyo and at the ATP Masters 1000 event in Shanghai to end the season as the World No. 33.

“Beating Nadal means that people are more aware of you, but really the news was that he was beaten by Guillermo Garcia,” he says of his victory. However, only a few months later, on 21 February 2011, he would reach his peak in the ATP Rankings at No. 23.

At the time, he was one of 14 Spaniards in the Top 100, with nine in the Top 50; Nadal (No. 1), David Ferrer (No. 6), Fernando Verdasco (No. 9), Nicolas Almagro (No. 13), García Lopez (No. 23), Albert Montanes (No. 25), Tommy Robredo (No. 29), Juan Carlos Ferrero (No. 34) and Feliciano Lopez (No. 41).

All of them forged impressive careers in the shadow of the incomparable success of Nadal. “In Spain we’ve been lucky to have one of the best players in history. It has been very good for Spanish tennis, it’s a source of pride for the country, for the people and something for everyone to follow, but on the other hand it’s true that it has meant that others’ careers are not valued as much as they should be,” Garcia Lopez said.

Finally, among his greatest memories is a match that was not a win, but feels as if it were. It came in the second round of Wimbledon in 2005, the first time he ever faced Novak Djokovic. This is how he remembers it: “I was winning two-sets-to-love, at 5-4 and match point at 40/30. I hit a good serve, then I had a three-quarter court forehand and I played a winner across the other side. He didn’t chase it, the line judge called it in and Djokovic took off his sweatband and came to the net to shake hands. I celebrated as if I had won the match.”

To his astonishment though, the match was not over. “I realised the umpire had overruled and called it out. We went to deuce. I lost it a little bit then, he broke my serve and we went 5-5. I broke him back to go 6-5 up, and 40/0. I had three more match points. He defended them and I ended up losing 3-6, 3-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(3), 6-4. It was a match that I lost, but I count it as a win in my head.”

This is the story of the kid from La Roda who used to knock up against the wall in an empty room in his house and one day achieved his dream of becoming a professional tennis player. So goes the legend of “Gee-Gee-El”.

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Bautista Agut Is Back & Raring To Go

  • Posted: Jan 01, 2022

Roberto Bautista Agut has never been in a rush. The Spaniard, one of the most consistent players on Tour, broke into the Top 100 of the ATP Rankings at 24 years old. His journey has been a steady one, completing each phase with measured aplomb. Now, with an already-impressive career under his belt, he is looking to prolong his prowess on Tour.

The Castellon native will embark on the 2022 season having ended his professional relationship with Pepe Vendrell, his coach for the past 11 years, during which he made his way into the elite. With Vendrell by his side, Bautista Agut has produced the most impressive moments of his success-packed career: his nine ATP Tour titles, his Grand Slam semi-final [Wimbledon in 2019], winning the Davis Cup and playing at the Olympic Games, among many other milestones.

“It’s a moment you never see coming,” admits Bautista Agut to “Pepe and I have practically been one person for all this time. We were by each other’s sides for many years and I’ve enjoyed some of the best moments of my career with him in my corner. It’s a big change, especially at first. You have some well-drilled routines, you’re really used to certain things, the way you work with a person.”

Bautista Agut will start this new phase of his career with a new formula, bringing Daniel Gimeno-Traver and Tomas Carbonell into his team, who will split the weeks between them throughout the season. “I believe in a dual team. It’s a very demanding sport for just one coach and I think splitting the weeks is the best way,” he explains.

“Dani has started out very keen and excited. I have approached it with the same attitude and I feel very happy. Dani is great, a very good guy,” Bautista Agut, who is in the midst of an intense preseason in Castellon with the man from Nules, added. “We already had a good relationship off the court. Now I guess the relationship will be even stronger.”

The bond between the two Castellon men is a strong one, and Bautista Agut will be hoping that trust provides a driving force to help him maintain his best tennis in the season during which he will turn 34.

“We’ve met up quite a lot, we’ve even played each other in the odd match,” Bautista Agut recounts. “We’ve played doubles tournaments together. Dani is a player who has had a very long career. He’s someone who has a lot of experience after being a good player. He has a different background to Pepe, who has been fantastic and fundamental for my career. Dani will tell me new things, he’ll help both technically and tactically. They are both quite different. Also, I’m also going to be with Tomas this year. I’d worked with him before, we know each other and it will be important to get his advice.”

Bautista Agut is looking to get the ball rolling again after his 2021 season came to an abrupt end. When he was ready to lead out the Spanish team in the Davis Cup finals, the World No. 19 had to withdraw from the event in Madrid due to an abdominal injury that forced him to be cautious and take a step back.

“Injuries are like accidents, they happen when you least expect it,” he explains. “It was a shame, but it didn’t hold me back much. Luckily it wasn’t very serious, but a tear means you have to stop everything. I couldn’t train for 15 days, although a week after the tear I started working in the gym. Now I’ve been doing fitness and tennis for 10 days. But I’m happy and excited and keen to play next year.”

The 2022 season presents a huge challenge for Bautista Agut. The elite of the game is packed with young talent and the average age of the Top 10 at the end of the year was 25.6, the youngest since the 2009 season. What does a player like Bautista Agut, who will be celebrating his 34th birthday in April, need to maintain his place among the best players in the world?

“You have to keep the flame burning,” the Spaniard said. “Personally I think you have to nurture your passion, take care of it. After what happened at the Davis Cup I had three days of holiday then I started to work straight away. I’m not short on desire! I’m looking forward to having a good year next year and to continuing to compete at the top.”

The Spaniard, who will compete in the ATP Cup in Sydney and the Australian Open to kick off his 2022 season, is in no doubt about what he wants from the new year.

“Firstly, to have a consistent year,” says the World No. 19, who has finished the past eight seasons inside the Top 25 in the ATP Rankings. “I’d like to complete the year without any frights or injuries. My second wish is to be able to enjoy tennis and the level of my play. To come off court and feel good about myself and the standard of my game.

“To do that, you have to have a lot of desire, to be very professional, train every day with a goal. There is a key expression that I like to repeat to myself: I have to live and breathe tennis. This sport demands a lot. There has been a change of generation, there are very young people that are already at the top with a different style of tennis to that of a few years ago. Facing that is extra motivation for me. I’m happy to be there for another year and to fight for the top positions again as I have done in recent years.”

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Five Things That Matter On ATP Cup Day 2

  • Posted: Jan 01, 2022

Defending champion Russia, last year’s finalist Italy and host nation Australia all open their ATP Cup campaigns on Tuesday in Sydney. Four players — Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev, Matteo Berrettini and Jannik Sinner — in the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings will be in action.

Here are the five things that matter most ahead of Day 2 at the 2022 ATP Cup.

Medvedev Confident
Twelve months ago, Daniil Medvedev continued his rich form to win four singles matches against Diego Schwartzman, Kei Nishikori, Zverev and Berrettini to help Team Russia capture the ATP Cup crown. While the late withdrawals of Andrey Rublev and Aslan Karatsev — last year’s “secret weapon” — have dealt Russia a blow, Medvedev is confident of success ahead of the team’s first Group B tie against France. “Last year was amazing for Russian tennis in general…and I think that’s what can, again, help us a lot this week because everybody is expecting us to do well,” said Medvedev, who has an 8-1 record in ATP Cup singles matches. “Usually, I like this kind of pressure. It makes you play better.”

In the No. 1 singles match, the World No. 2, who won four ATP Tour titles in a career-best 2021 season, will be looking to avenge his 6-4, 6-3 loss to France’s Ugo Humbert at Hamburg in July 2020. Humbert will be making his ATP Cup debut for France, which boasts Arthur Rinderknech, Edouard Roger-Vasselin and Fabrice Martin. “I’m super happy to be with these guys,” said Humbert, ahead of his first match on Ken Rosewall Arena. “I saw the past editions of the ATP Cup. I really like the atmosphere of the competition.”

Zverev, Norrie Look For Immediate Impact
Zverev finished the 2021 season in style by winning 12 of his last 14 matches, including titles at the Erste Bank Open in Vienna and the Nitto ATP Finals, but on Day 2, the German comes up against another player who enjoyed a stellar year. Cameron Norrie, who rose to a career-high No. 12 in the ATP Rankings with two ATP Tour trophies from five finals, will be hoping to avenge his two losses to Zverev at Acapulco and Montreal in 2019 when Great Britain challenges Germany in Group C during the night session on the Qudos Bank Arena.

“A lot of the time last year, I was being the underdog, going out and hunting those guys,” said Norrie on Thursday. “Whereas now, I think, some of the time, it’s going to be people hunting me. The pressure only gets more, but I’m looking forward to it. [I] feel good physically and [I’m] excited to kick off the year in such a great team event.”

Zverev, who has a 4-2 record at the ATP Cup and helped Germany to the 2021 semi-finals, admitted, “The matches are difficult. I’m playing Cameron Norrie… to start the year off against the World No. 12, it can only be in this event for me. It is a great challenge. I will know exactly where I am at after the first few matches.”

Briton Daniel Evans will look to extend his perfect 2-0 ATP Head2Head record against Jan-Lennard Struff in the No. 2 singles match.

Photo: Peter Staples/ATP Tour

Italian Firepower
With two players in the Top 10 – Berrettini and Sinner – plus Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini, a doubles team that won the 2015 Australian Open trophy, it’s safe to say that Italy’s captain Vincenzo Santopadre has some serious firepower at his disposal. “Our aim is to win the title,” said Berrettini, who won three of his four singles matches to help Italy advance to the 2021 ATP Cup final. “It’s our goal to always do better than the previous experience,” said Santopadre. “So of course, we don’t have to be shy to say that we are here trying to win.”

Berrettini won’t be fazed when he plays Australia’s Alex de Minaur in Group B, during the night session. “Alex is a really tricky player, especially here in Sydney, in his home country,” said Berrettini, who beat De Minaur 6-4, 6-4 in the Cinch Championships semi-finals in June 2021. “He’s been playing his best tennis here. I think this atmosphere brings him to play his best tennis, so it’s going to be very tough match. But I like it when the atmosphere is like that. I like [when] stadiums are packed, and people are cheering for you or against you. I’m really looking forward to that match.”

Sinner, a winner of four ATP Tour titles last year, opens the tie against Australia’s James Duckworth. The pair split their two 2021 meetings, with Duckworth winning 6-3, 6-3 in Toronto and Sinner prevailing 7-6(4), 6-4 in Sofia.

Neighbours To Clash
Canada plays United States during the day session on Ken Rosewall Arena that neither team will want to lose. Felix Auger-Aliassime is not only the Canadian captain this week, but the World No. 11 will also shoulder the responsibility of facing Taylor Fritz in the No. 1 singles match. Denis Shapovalov, currently No. 14 in the ATP Rankings, will also have a first-time meeting against American John Isner.

United States captain Michael Russell, who is Fritz’s full-time coach, said, “We’re excited. We finished last year pretty strong, and we’re looking to come up against Canada Sunday and we feel good about our team. Everybody’s fired up.”

Neighbours To Clash
Canada plays United States during the day session on Ken Rosewall Arena that neither team will want to lose. Felix Auger-Aliassime is not only the Canadian captain this week, but the World No. 11 will also shoulder the responsibility of facing Taylor Fritz in the No. 1 singles match. Denis Shapovalov, currently No. 14 in the ATP Rankings, will also have a first-time meeting against American John Isner.

Doubles Deciders
The final tie on Saturday went down to the wire with Serbia’s Nikola Cacic and Filip Krajinovic beating Norwegians Viktor Durasovic and Casper Ruud 7-6(3), 6-3. On Sunday, some of the world’s best doubles players could feature. Jamie Murray and Joe Salisbury are slated to take on Kevin Krawietz and Tim Puetz when Great Britain meets Germany, while Australia’s John Peers and Luke Saville are scheduled to face Bolelli and Fognini of Italy. Throw into the mix, Rajeev Ram for the United States, which has plenty of options. Isner believes the United States has several partnership options at its disposal for the doubles match. As Isner admitted, “I think any of us [with] Raj obviously the staple, can play doubles. Physically, I don’t think it’s an issue.” Currently Fritz and Isner are down to play Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov, but Ram and Brandon Nakashima are also available for the Americans.


KEN ROSEWALL ARENA start 10:00 am
Group B – Russia v France, Day Session

R. Safiullin (RUS) vs A. Rinderknech (FRA)
D. Medvedev (RUS) vs U. Humbert (FRA)
Subject to change – D. Medvedev (RUS) / R. Safiullin (RUS) vs F. Martin (FRA) / E. Roger-Vasselin (FRA)

Start 5:30 pm

Group B – Italy v Australia, Night Session

J. Sinner (ITA) vs [WC] J. Duckworth (AUS)

Not Before 7:00 pm

M. Berrettini (ITA) vs [WC] A. de Minaur (AUS)
Subject to change – S. Bolelli (ITA) / F. Fognini (ITA) vs [WC] J. Peers (AUS) / L. Saville (AUS)

QUDOS BANK ARENA start 10:00 am

Group C – Canada v United States, Day Session

D. Shapovalov (CAN) vs J. Isner (USA)
F. Auger-Aliassime (CAN) vs T. Fritz (USA)
Subject to change – F. Auger-Aliassime (CAN) / D. Shapovalov (CAN) vs T. Fritz (USA) / J. Isner (USA)

Start 5:30 pm

Group C – Germany v Great Britain, Night Session

J. Struff (GER) vs D. Evans (GBR)

Not Before 7:00 pm

A. Zverev (GER) vs C. Norrie (GBR)
Subject to change – K. Krawietz (GER) / T. Puetz (GER) vs J. Murray (GBR) / J. Salisbury (GBR)

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Medvedev Eager To Meet 'Virtual' Teammate

  • Posted: Jan 01, 2022

Daniil Medvedev won all four of his matches to help guide Russia to ATP Cup glory in 2021 in the second edition of the event.

The World No. 2, who captured four tour-level titles in 2021, will once again lead his country at the 16-team tournament as Russia aims to retain its crown in Sydney.

Ahead of his opening match, the 25-year-old spoke to about the Russian team, his earliest tennis memories and more.

If you could take one shot from any current Russian player and add it to your game, what would it be?
It is difficult because I like my game! I want to say Andrey’s forehand, but then I would have to change my game completely and I am not sure that is good. But I would say Andrey’s forehand because it is so huge.

Who on the team would most likely be late for practice or a team dinner?
That would definitely be me. I am not sure about Evgeny [Karlovskiy] and Alexander [Shevchenko], because with Alexander we are really good virtual friends because we play a lot of PlayStation together, but it is going to be the first time I meet him in real life, so I don’t know if he is late or not. But I know I am late a lot of the time, which I don’t like, so it has to be me.

Can you describe the personality of your teammates in a few quick words?
Roman [Safiullin], is really calm. He thinks a lot, sometimes he overthinks. Evgeny is really easy going. He is the soul of the team. With Alexander, I know him only virtually, but he seems really funny and easy going and we were texting a lot in the past few days because I was helping him with his visa as he needed to get it within one or two days. He is really happy to come and is a great kid.

Tell me about your first tennis club in Russia?
There is a swimming pool in Moscow, which is quite famous and, almost like on top of the swimming pool, there was one court, carpet, and that is where I practised for the first four years from six until 10. A lot of good memories from there. Sometimes 12 guys on the same court and a lot of fun. Until I was 17, Russia has a strong winter with a lot of rain in autumn and spring and we were practising on taraflex. That is probably the fastest surface you can imagine, faster than carpet.

Which Russian players inspired you when you were growing up?
Unfortunately I didn’t see [Yevgeny] Kafelnikov play, I was too young and not that interested in tennis yet. I grew up watching mostly Marat [Safin] and Nikolay Davydenko and a little bit [Mikhail] Youzhny when I started playing juniors. They were the three biggest names I enjoyed watching and I enjoyed cheering for them in front of my TV.

Three things you love about Russia?
That is dangerous because I can’t say everything. I am really like the level of Russian food, but I am not talking about Russian cuisine itself, but about the food in general, I find it a really high level. Secondly, I really like Moscow; I am from there and really like the city. I enjoy coming back as much as I can if it doesn’t disrupt my tennis. Let’s go with the nightlife for the third one.

Where should tourists visit in Russia?
Red Square. That is easy. When you are born in a city and you have it in front of your feet, that is when you almost start forgetting about it and people will ask you, ‘are you going to Red Square’, and I don’t think I have been there for four or five years. People definitely should visit Red Square.

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Monfils, Khachanov, Cilic Learn Adelaide Draw Fate

  • Posted: Jan 01, 2022

Gael Monfils will look to capture his 11th ATP Tour title next week at the Adelaide International 1, but may need to beat the likes of Karen Khachanov, Marin Cilic and Frances Tiafoe. The ATP 250 event begins on 3 January.

Monfils, the top seed at the Memorial Drive Tennis Centre, will face Juan Manuel Cerundolo or Alex Bolt in his first match of the 2022 ATP Tour season. The charismatic French star may then face sixth seed Tommy Paul, who won the Stockholm Open title in November, or #NextGenATP star Lorenzo Musetti. Monfils beat Musetti 7-6(2), 6-4 in a hard-fought Vienna clash in October.

View Adelaide Singles & Doubles Draws

Second seed Khachanov, who last lifted a trophy at the 2018 Rolex Paris Masters, comes up against Steve Johnson or Aleksandar Vukic in the second round and also has Cilic, fifth seed Marton Fucsovics and seventh seed Laslo Djere in the bottom half of the draw. Third seed Cilic clinched the Stuttgart and St. Petersburg crowns last year and faces Thiago Monteiro or Daniel Altmaier in the Adelaide second round.

In a standout first-round encounter, John Millman will challenge fellow Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis for the first time at tour-level. The winner will play fourth seed Tiafoe.

Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo, and Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen headline the doubles field in Adelaide.

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Tsitsipas Withdraws From Hurkacz Clash At ATP Cup

  • Posted: Jan 01, 2022

Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas has withdrawn from his blockbuster showdown against Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz at the ATP Cup on Saturday evening due to a right elbow injury. Aristotelis Thanos has stepped in to face Hurkacz.

Tsitsipas withdrew from the 2021 Nitto ATP Finals a month-and-a-half ago after one match due to the same elbow injury.

“The recovery from my elbow surgery in November is on track for Melbourne and today was a precautionary step to make sure I make Melbourne,” Tsitsipas said. “We will see day by day, match by match until then.”

Tsitsipas has only withdrawn from this opening match in Group D play. Greece’s next tie will be on Monday evening against Argentina.

Poland’s Kamil Majchrzak defeated Greece’s Michail Pervolarakis 6-1, 6-4 to give his country a 1-0 lead.

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Hurkacz, Majchrzak Give Poland First Win At ATP Cup

  • Posted: Jan 01, 2022

Hubert Hurkacz and Kamil Majchrzak both helped Poland to its first Group D victory on Saturday against Greece at the ATP Cup.

Hurkacz and his coach, Craig Boynton, scrambled when news filtered through late on that Stefanos Tsitsipas, who they had prepared to face in the No. 1 singles match, was sidelined by a right elbow injury. But Hurkacz quickly settled on Qudos Bank Arena to overcome Tsitsipas’ replacement, 20-year-old Aristotelis Thanos, 6-1, 6-2 and complete a 2-0 tie win.

In the No. 2 singles match, World No. 117 Majchrzak played with confidence to defeat Michail Pervolarakis 6-1, 6-4 in 79 minutes. Hurkacz later completed a highly professional performance over Thanos, which included 10 winners in the 54-minute encounter.

“I was expecting to play Stefanos and I was preparing tactics with my coach and Marcin [Matkowski], so it was difficult when I found out,” said Hurkacz. “I’d never played him before, or seen him play. He had a big serve and fortunately I was returning quite well and put pressure on him. It’s great to be back in Sydney.”

On Tuesday, Poland faces Georgia and Greece meets Argentina. Both ties will be contested on Ken Rosewall Arena in Sydney.

Majchrzak, Team Poland
Photo: ATP Tour

Majchrzak dominated to win eight of the first nine games, before Pervolarakis started to reap dividends by changing his court position to attack the short ball. The 25-year-old won three straight games for a 3-2 lead in the second set, but regularly found himself under pressure on deep groundstrokes out wide. Majchrzak held his nerve to make a crucial breakthrough with a forehand pass at 3-3 and didn’t look back.

“It’s my first match of the year in these great conditions and it’s an honour to represent my country,” said Majchrzak. “When I can fight for my country, it gives me different emotions and feelings. It’s great to deliver this first point for Poland today. I found my rhythm from the beginning of the match. I was very consistent and I am very happy with my performance. Even the gap at the beginning of the second set, where I led 2-0 and let him back in. That was a danger moment.”

World No. 4 Tsitsipas admitted in early November, during the Rolex Paris Masters, that he had been experiencing pain for some time. He played one match at the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin, before withdrawing due to the same injury.

The ATP Cup format sees the No. 2 singles played first, followed by the No. 1 singles and doubles.

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Carreno Busta Rallies To Give Spain Early Lead

  • Posted: Jan 01, 2022

Pablo Carreno Busta rallied from sluggish starts in both sets against Alejandro Tabilo to give Spain an early 1-0 lead over Chile on Day 1 of the ATP Cup in Sydney Saturday.

The former Top 10 Spaniard used his experience to rally from 0-3 in both sets to claim a 6-4, 7-6(4) win over the left-handed World No. 139 Tabilo, who last year played just six tour-level matches (2-4 record).

“It was very difficult at the beginning of the match because he was playing unbelievable,” Carreno Busta said. “I was fighting all the time… and I ended up playing much better than I started.”

Carreno Busta, 30, who defeated Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev en route to the Tokyo Olympics bronze medal last year, claimed his 231st career win today. That stands in stark contrast to 24-year-old Tabilo’s five tour-level wins.

The victory leaves Roberto Bautista Agut with the opportunity to clinch the Tie for 2020 finalist Spain when he plays Cristian Garin in the No. 1 singles.

The ATP Cup format sees the No. 2 singles played first, followed by the No. 1 singles and doubles.

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