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Five Things That Matter On ATP Cup Day 5

  • Posted: Jan 04, 2022

It’s ‘win and you’re in’ time on Day 5 at the ATP Cup. Two ties feature head-to-head battles for a semi-final spot – defending champion Serbia looks to beat Spain in Group A at Ken Rosewall Arena, while Qudos Bank Arena hosts a Group D-deciding tie between Argentina and Poland.

Here are the five things that matter most ahead of Day 5 at the ATP Cup.

Spain Searches For Clean Sweep
Spain has enjoyed a perfect start to the 2022 ATP Cup with two 3-0 wins in its group ties. Only Serbia can stop Spain finishing top of Group A, and the two teams face off in the night session on Ken Rosewall Arena. Pablo Carreno Busta will hope to give his team another good start in the No. 2 singles match when he takes on Serbia’s Filip Krajinovic for the third time (1-1). “It’s very important for the first point to be up, to give the confidence to Roberto [Bautista Agut], to give the calm to Roberto”, said Carreno Busta on Monday. Spain looks to maintain its record of never having failed to progress from the group stage at the ATP Cup.

Meanwhile, Serbia looks to bounce back from the deciding-match doubles heartbreak it suffered against Chile. A 3-0 victory for Serbia will be enough for a semi-final spot, although a 2-1 Serbian win combined with a Norwegian victory over Chile would also see the 2021 champion through to the knock-out stage. Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic is set to take on Bautista Agut in the No. 1 singles match and will be hoping to be fresh after retiring with cramp in a battle of attrition against Cristian Garin on Monday. Bautista Agut holds a 4-0 ATP Head2Head lead over the Serbian, including a 7-5, 6-1 win in the 2020 ATP Cup final.

The Feel-Good Factor
Poland and Argentina are both unbeaten at the 2022 ATP Cup and face a winner-takes-all battle for the semi-final spot in Group D. The two teams have enjoyed strong camaraderie within their respective camps this week, with players speaking openly about feeding off each other’s success to keep them going under pressure. World No. 13 Diego Schwartzman emphasised this point in the aftermath of his stunning 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-3 win over World No. 4 Stefanos Tsitsipas on Monday. “I think Federico [Delbonis] gave me the confidence, going into the match 1-0 up,” said Schwartzman, “and I think it’s always very important for us. He did the same the previous match.”

Poland’s World No. 117-ranked Kamil Majchrzak believes his win over Georgian Aleksandre Bakshi on Monday will stand him in good stead when he takes on Federico Delbonis in the opening match at Qudos Bank Arena. “I was lucky to play the lefty guy [Bakshi] today, so I’ll be ready for the lefty from Argentina,” said Majchrzak. “He’s a great player, and he’s in very good shape…I’m pretty sure when it comes to the conversation about how to play, how to beat him, we will be ready.” Hubert Hurkacz, the 2021 Miami Open presented by Itau champion, meets Schwartzman in the No. 1 singles match. They share an ATP Head2Head record of 1-1, but the Pole triumphed in their only previous hard-court meeting, winning 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 at the 2020 ATP Cup group stage.

View Semi-final Scenarios

Norway Taking On Chile…And Their Fans
Norway hopes to emulate the recent exploits of its final Group A opponents Chile in securing its first 2022 ATP Cup win in the day session on Ken Rosewall Arena. Although neither team can qualify for the semi-finals, World No. 8 Casper Ruud will be hoping to notch his first win of 2022 against Chilean No. 1 singles player Cristian Garin, who leads their ATP Head2Head record 2-0. Viktor Durasovic and Alejandro Tabilo face each other for the first time at tour-level in the No. 2 singles match.

Tabilo helped the South Americans win their first ATP Cup tie on Monday, staying cool under pressure with partner Tomas Barrios Vera as they took the deciding Match Tie-break in the doubles against Serbia. “It was pretty exciting, all the fans still watching us pretty late was nice and gave us some extra motivation”, said Tabilo. Chile’s vocal support will be hoping that breaking the duck will inspire further success. “We were looking for this for a long time,” said Garin after the historic victory on Monday. “We are so happy that we got our first win.”

A Fight To The End
Greece and Georgia have both fought hard in Group D in Sydney, although neither team has a chance of qualifying for the semi-finals. World No. 570 Aleksandre Metreveli impressed in taking the first set against Hurkacz, before going down 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-1 on Monday and he now has the chance to build on that performance against Greek Michail Pervolarakis in the No. 2 singles match. The night session on Qudos Bank Arena then sees Stefanos Tsitsipas up against Nikoloz Basilashvili. The Greek holds a 2-1 ATP Head2Head lead over the Georgian, but Basilashvili won their most recent encounter, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, en route to the BNP Paribas Open final in October.

Dancing Diego the Giantkiller
Having beaten Tsitsipas on Monday, Schwartzman now faces Hurkacz as he looks to win a key point for Argentina in their bid to reach the semi-finals. Schwartzman is used to playing taller opponents, something that he spoke to about in 2020. “When I walk onto a tennis court, I don’t think about how tall I am or how much bigger my opponent is. I know there is a difference, but so what? There are reasons that I might not have made it here, but they have nothing to do with my size. My height isn’t going to change. I’m not going to wake up the size of John Isner or Ivo Karlovic.”

Being of shorter stature certainly doesn’t seem to have affected Schwartzman’s abilities on the dance floor either. He put them to good use on Monday, bringing out some wonderful pre-game karate-style dancing towards Tsitsipas. Mind games, or just a bit of fun? Either way, it seems like it worked. Watch out, Hubert…


KEN ROSEWALL ARENA start 10:00 am
Group A – Norway v Chile, Day Session
V. Durasovic (NOR) vs A. Tabilo (CHI)
C. Ruud (NOR) vs C. Garin (CHI)
Subject to change – V. Durasovic (NOR) / C. Ruud (NOR) vs T. Barrios Vera (CHI) / A. Tabilo (CHI)

Start 5:30 pm

Group A – Serbia v Spain, Night Session
F Krajinovic (SRB) vs P. Carreno Busta (ESP)

Not Before 7:00 pm

D. Lajovic (SRB) vs R. Bautista Agut (ESP)
Subject to change – N. Cacic (SRB) / M. Sabanov (SRB) vs A. Davidovich Fokina (ESP) / P. Martinez (ESP)

QUDOS BANK ARENA start 10:00 am

Group D – Poland v Argentina, Day Session
K. Majchrzak (POL) vs F. Delbonis (ARG)
H. Hurkacz (POL) vs D. Schwartzman (ARG)
Subject to change – S. Walkow (POL) / J. Zielinski (POL) vs M. Gonzalez (ARG) / A. Molteni (ARG)

Start 5:30 pm

Group D – Greece v Georgia, Night Session
M. Pervolarakis (GRE) vs A. Metreveli (GEO)

Not Before 7:00 pm

S. Tsitsipas (GRE) vs N. Basilashvili (GEO)
Subject to change – A. Thanos (GRE) / P. Tsitsipas (GRE) vs A. Bakshi (GEO) / A. Metreveli (GEO)

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Kokkinakis Off To Strong Start In Adelaide

  • Posted: Jan 04, 2022

Thanasi Kokkinakis, who has overcome a series of injuries in recent years, had reason to smile on Tuesday when he lost just five first-service points to knock out fellow Australian John Millman 6-4, 6-3 in 82 minutes at the Adelaide International 1. The 25-year-old will now face fourth-seeded American Frances Tiafoe at the Memorial Drive Tennis Centre.

In his final match of 2021, Tommy Paul captured his first ATP Tour title at the Stockholm Open. On Tuesday, the sixth-seeded American continued his winning ways with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 victory over Jiri Vesely of the Czech Republic in two hours and 17 minutes.

Competing at a career-high No. 43 in the ATP Rankings, Paul earned 25 match wins last year and now challenges Japan’s Taro Daniel, who struck 12 aces to beat #NextGenATP Italian Lorenzo Musetti 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-3 in two hours and 34 minutes.

Elsewhere, World No. 113 Egor Gerasimov started his 2022 ATP Tour season in style by knocking out fifth-seeded Hungarian Marton Fucsovics 6-3, 6-4 in 87 minutes. The Belarusian now plays Italy’s Gianluca Mager, who was a 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 victor over Argentinean qualifier Francisco Cerundolo.

Cerundolo’s younger brother, Juan Manuel Cerundolo, set up a second-round clash against top-seeded Frenchman Gael Monfils after a 6-2, 6-4 win over Australian qualifier Alex Bolt in 80 minutes. Monfils will be bidding to capture his 11th ATP Tour title this week at the ATP 250 event.

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Lajovic Relishing Team Atmosphere At ATP Cup

  • Posted: Jan 04, 2022

Dusan Lajovic is making his third ATP Cup appearance this week in Sydney for 2020 champion Serbia and is filling the void left by Novak Djokovic as the No. 1 singles player for Serbia at the 16-team event.

Ahead of his final Group A match, the World No. 33 caught up with to talk about the character of Team Serbia, his love for the ATP Cup atmosphere, Serbian nature and more.

If you could take one shot from any member of your team and add it to your game what would it be?

I would probably take Filip’s return. I think he’s returning pretty well, he’s very solid from both sides. He can attack first serve as well as the second serve. I think this is a pretty good shot that he has and if I could [have it], it would probably be a weapon in my game as well.

Who on the team would most likely be late for practice?
I think that until now nobody has been late. We have some other guys that are not here that are usually late, but in this environment right now we are all on time I would say.

‘You’re running a tight ship!’

We are!

Tell me a little bit about the personalities on the team, what stands out?
I can tell you a funny story about the twins, Ivan [Sabanov] and Matej [Sabanov]. We are a similar age and when we played as kids, usually you never wanted to play one of them because, for example Under 10 or 12 years old, if you played against one of them and you beat him, the other one would come on the court, they would hug and they would cry. So, you always felt so sad when you beat them. They’ve changed this now in professional tennis. But when we were kids, it was so funny when you played against them.

How nice is it to have the two of them with you here to enjoy this experience?
Especially for them to be part of the team, and to play this kind of event and get a feel for the atmosphere, and hopefully there will be Serbian fans to cheer for us. It’s a good experience for them and I just hope that they can have good memories looking back to it as I did, and everybody else in the team did. I hope that we’re going to have a lot of fun here and that everybody can give their best under the circumstances, and I think that if we are able to do that then the opportunities will present themselves.

What do you remember about your first tennis club in Serbia?
I remember there was also a pizza place in my first tennis club, and I enjoyed eating pizza. That was my earliest memory of the tennis club.

What are three things you love about Serbia?
The nature would come first, then hospitality, and the third one is the way of life. It’s a love-hate relationship. People are really enjoying a lot living in Serbia but, they have a lot of struggles as well. There is always conflict between being disciplined and working a lot or enjoying life a lot. So if it’s in small doses, I think it’s a very good balance. But if you enjoy too much, then it might not be as beneficial as it should be.

What is your favourite place to go in Serbia?
We’ve had a dog since a year and a half ago, it’s a Shiba Inu. We like to go to different mountains and just hike. I would recommend any of the mountains in Serbia. The mountain named Rtanj is shaped like a pyramid and it’s really nice to hike. It’s around three or four hours to the top, so I think it’s a nice hike and a great weekend escape. Then there are some bigger mountains where you can spend some ski holidays and I would recommend any of these places. Then obviously if you are in the capital, there is a lot of good food, good music, good people to enjoy. I would put these two as must-sees.

How do you find the team atmosphere and the whole experience of playing with the team?

As I mentioned many times before, playing for the team is a whole different sport. It’s a whole different angle and perspective. I think you always have that pressure that you put on yourself when you play individually, but when you play for the team and under a flag for your own country you put that extra pressure of playing for your teammates, playing for the country, playing for the people.

Maybe the people come to cheer for you and you are playing for them, but maybe it doesn’t really look that way. You just put those extra things, it can be a burden, or it can be a motivator. In 2020 it was a motivator for all of us and it went great. I think if we’re able to maintain that kind of mentality going into the matches, I think we will have great tennis and great fun on the court, which I think is the most important thing to be able to give our best once we are playing the matches.

There were so many Serbians here a couple of years ago, too. How nice was that?
Yeah, the Serbian community all around Australia is huge and especially in Sydney. Maybe also in Brisbane, but I think Sydney has the most Serbians that live here and I hope that they will come this year as well. The more, the merrier. If we have full stands it’s going to be great, and if not, still it’s going to be much better than last year because there were no fans at all. Things are going in a better way the past couple of months, and this is what we are all hoping for.

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Nadal Is Back! Joins Munar For Melbourne Doubles Win

  • Posted: Jan 04, 2022

After five months on the sidelines, Rafael Nadal made a winning return to the ATP Tour on Tuesday when he joined forces with fellow Spaniard Jaume Munar on the doubles court at the Melbourne Summer Set.

Munar and Nadal received a warm reception at Melbourne Park and they didn’t disappoint in a 6-3, 3-6, 10-4 victory over Argentines Sebastian Baez and Tomas Martin Etcheverry in 76 minutes. It was Nadal’s first match since 5 August at the Citi Open and the pair next challenges fourth seeds Andrey Golubev and Franko Skugor.

Nadal will start his 2022 ATP Tour singles campaign against American Marcos Giron or Ricardas Berankis, a Lithuanian qualifier, in the second round.


Also in Melbourne, Grigor Dimitrov and David Goffin defeated Dutchmen Matwe Middelkoop and Botic van de Zandschulp 2-6, 6-3, 10-6 on Rod Laver Arena.

At the Adelaide International 1, Steve Johnson and Yoshihito Nishioka knocked out Daniel Altmaier and Juan Pablo Varillas 6-3, 3-6, 10-3 for a second-round meeting against sixth seeds Jonathan Erlich and Andre Goransson. Elsewhere, Soonwoo Kwon and Artem Sitak defeated Roberto Carballes Baena and Laslo Djere 6-4, 1-6, 10-8. They now play third seeds Ariel Behar and Gonzalo Escobar.

Watch Tuesday Melbourne Highlights (Including Munar/Nadal Doubles)

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Medvedev, Safiullin Combine For Russia's Second Win

  • Posted: Jan 04, 2022

Daniil Medvedev and Roman Safiullin, Russia’s latest “secret weapon”, ensured that the defending champion beat Australia on Tuesday to move to 2-0 in Group B play at the ATP Cup.

Medvedev silenced the majority of supporters on the Qudos Bank Arena with his fourth straight victory over Alex De Minaur in a 6-4, 6-2 win over 80 minutes. It followed on from World No. 167 Safiullin’s gutsy 7-6(6), 6-4 victory over James Duckworth in the No. 2 singles match.

“We fight when we play for our country, to the last point,” said World No. 2 Medvedev. “I didn’t feel great prior to the match, so I took some painkillers before I came out. I’m really happy for Roman, he’s winning every match he’s played so far. I watched his match tonight from the locker room. I’ve known him since he was 10, he had a good junior career and has been unlucky with injuries.”

In the doubles match, Medvedev and Safiullin completed a 3-0 clean sweep against the host nation with a 7-6(7), 3-6, 10-6 victory over Australia’s John Peers and Luke Saville in one hour and 43 minutes. Peers and Saville had one set point chance at 6/5 in the first set tie-break, and won four straight games from 2-3 in the second set.

Russia now plays Italy on Thursday in a repeat of the 2021 ATP Cup final, while host nation Australia challenges France. Both ties will be contested on Ken Rosewall Arena.

Photo: Peter Staples/ATP Tour

For Medvedev, it was a case of see ball, hit ball in the first three games against de Minaur and it wasn’t until 3-0, 30/15 that the Russian made his first error. The first set then became tactical for De Minaur, with ferocious hitting and intricate slice play aplenty. The Australian did well to recover from 15/40 at 3-5, but Medvedev gave no let-up on first serve and closed out the 41-minute opener with an ace down the T.

Leading 5-4 in the first set, Medvedev put his foot down and won the next six games, continually pushing De Minaur to find the lines from the baseline or move swiftly up the court for low balls. At the changeovers in the Team Zone, De Minaur and former World No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt debated tactics. The 22-year-old fought hard as always, but Medvedev was simply too good on Tuesday night.

“He’s a very tactical player, in the sense of he baits you very well to go for a lot,” said De Minaur of Medvedev. “He’s obviously a very good mover with very good end-range shots. To beat him, you got to obviously be aggressive and take the net, but at the same time you don’t want to over press. I feel like I did a bit of that today, and made a couple too many unforced errors… He makes life quite difficult in that aspect and especially on this court his ball was shooting through and it was very tough to get any free points today.”

Roman Safiullin
Photo: Peter Staples/ATP Tour

Safiullin, who upset Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech on Sunday, defeated James Duckworth in just under two hours. “It was a great match for me and the match before as well. This one I would say started more or less the same, but then [I was able to] come back in the first set,” Safiullin said. “At the end I could push James a bit more and managed to win.”

Safiullin, who was the hero in his country’s 2-1 triumph against France, was once again undeterred by the moment at Qudos Bank Arena. Despite trailing for much of the first set, he battled into a tie-break, where he secured his advantage.

Duckworth fought hard in front of his home crowd, even holding his hat in his left hand as he crushed a forehand winner in the second game of the second set. But the No. 49 in the ATP Rankings was unable to triumph on his ATP Cup debut.

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Struff Weathers Isner Ace Barrage To Give Germany Early Lead

  • Posted: Jan 04, 2022

Jan-Lennard Struff has given Germany a 1-0 lead over the United States on Day 4 of ATP Cup after surviving 34 aces from John Isner to claw out a 7-6(7), 4-6, 7-5 win on Ken Rosewall Arena.

Isner had fought off all seven break points faced, including two match points, before Struff finally converted his third match point on the American’s serve after hitting a clean forehand winner deep into the ad court.

“It’s always tough against John,” Struff said. “I had played him four times before and lost four times. So I’m very happy to get the win for my team today.

“It’s not just his own serve that makes it tough. You have to focus on your own serve because if you get broken it’s very tough to come back. I was very happy how I played and competed.”

World No. 3 Alexander Zverev will now look to clinch the tie for Germany when he takes on Taylor Fritz in the No. 1 singles.

ATP Cup format sees the No. 2 singles played first, followed by the No. 1 singles and the doubles. Doubles uses no-ad scoring and a match tie-break in place of a third set.

Each country plays three matches in group play from 1-6 January across Ken Rosewall Arena and Qudos Bank Arena at Sydney Olympic Park. One team emerges from each of the four groups to contest the two semi-finals, which will be split over two days (7-8 January), with the final played 9 January.

Group C Qualifying Scenarios
No team can clinch the group by winning today’s ties. If USA and Great Britain win their ties that would set up a winner-takes-all showdown on Day 6, with the winner claiming a semi-final berth.

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Sinner Sends Italy To Lead Against France

  • Posted: Jan 04, 2022

Italy suffered a disappointing defeat on Sunday against Australia at the ATP Cup, but Jannik Sinner has helped his team bounce back on Tuesday.

The World No. 10 defeated Arthur Rinderknech 6-3, 7-6(3) to give his country a 1-0 lead against France. The Italian rallied from a break down in the second set to triumph after one hour and 37 minutes.

“It’s never easy playing against him, it was the third time already. The first set I was under control. In the second set I dropped a little bit of intensity. He is serving very well, so I was in trouble,” Sinner said in his on-court interview. “But fortunately I found a way.”

Sinner now leads the pair’s ATP Head2Head 2-1. Rinderknech defeated his younger opponent last year on clay in Lyon, and appeared primed to push for another upset in Sydney when he broke in the second set.

The Frenchman was playing aggressively and using his big serve to prevent Sinner from dominating from the baseline. But one slip allowed the Italian back on serve, which proved critical. Matteo Berrettini will now try to clinch the tie for Italy against Ugo Humbert, who upset World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev on Sunday.

“Tennis is all about trying to find solutions and today I found it, fortunately,” Sinner said. “Obviously we want to win, so we’ll try to stay focussed [as a team].”

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