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Preview: Canada, Spain Set For Thrilling ATP Cup Final

  • Posted: Jan 08, 2022

The ATP Cup final may well come down to fine margins on Sunday, with the four singles players on show — Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov, and Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut and Pablo Carreno Busta — all inside the Top 20 of the ATP Rankings. It will be a case of Canada’s shot-makers against Spanish consistency as the third edition reaches a thrilling conclusion on Ken Rosewall Arena in Sydney.

Canada started off the week with four straight losses, but such is the ability of long-time friends Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov to knit together, not to mention a little help from Great Britain in winning a Match Tie-break in the deciding doubles match against the United States on Thursday, that the team avoided elimination and grew from strength to strength.

“We all know how close we were from being eliminated,” said Auger-Aliassime. “Thank you to Team Great Britain. They made us stay alive and we played a good one against Germany… [Today] we really brought the best energy we could in the doubles [against Russia]. We lifted ourselves, especially in the tie-break [and] I’m really happy we’re through.”

Shapovalov also feels his bond with Auger-Aliassime is strong, saying, “I think [that] Felix and [I] do a really good job of lifting each other up… I think it’s awesome to kind of have that chemistry with Felix. I think it’s definitely taken us a long way.”

Of course, Auger-Aliassime has taken his captaincy responsibilities seriously and, having recorded the biggest win of his career over Germany’s Alexander Zverev on Thursday, the Canadian will fancy his chances against Bautista Agut in the No. 1 singles match, which will be their fourth ATP Head2Head meeting.

“He’s always a tough opponent,” said Auger-Aliassime. “He’s been so consistent throughout his career. His level rarely drops, so I’m going to have to be ready to give my best effort. It’s going to be tough physically, mentally. Of course, it’s always better to have won against a player before. So I come [in] with that little extra belief and confidence that I beat him twice the last two times.”

Auger-Aliassime leads 2-1 overall, but Bautista Agut won their last clash 7-6(3), 6-3 in the 2019 Davis Cup final and is notoriously strong at the start of each season. Bautista has compiled a 41-8 record in January matches since 2016. The Spaniard won an ATP Tour crown in his first events of 2016-2019, went 6-0 at the 2020 ATP Cup and is unbeaten in four singles matches this week. So something has to give on Sunday.

“I think Pablo and I, if we play well, are focused and we feel well on the court, we can win our matches,” said Bautista Agut, after helping Spain reach its second ATP Cup final (also 2020) with victory over Poland on Friday. “That’s been our philosophy all week. I think the conditions are good for my game. I like to practice very hard in the off-season and I’m very motivated at the beginning of the season.”

Former World No. 10 Carreno Busta is also four matches unbeaten in singles at the 2022 ATP Cup. The 30-year-old will begin the No. 2 singles match against Shapovalov with confidence, holding a 4-1 advantage against the Canadian. Carreno Busta has won their past three matches, including a 3-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(4), 0-6, 6-3 victory in the 2020 US Open quarter-finals.

Shapovalov, with singles wins this week over Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff and Roman Safiullin of Russia, isn’t fazed by the challenge. “I’m really happy with where we are at the moment,” said Shapovalov. “Everyone on the team has made such a great effort to come this far, and I just hope tomorrow we can go one more step further.”


KEN ROSEWALL ARENA start 5:30 pm
P. Carreno Busta (ESP) vs D. Shapovalov (CAN)

Not Before 7:00 pm
R. Bautista Agut (ESP) vs F. Auger-Aliassime (CAN)
A. Davidovich Fokina (ESP) / P. Martinez (ESP) vs F. Auger-Aliassime (CAN) / D. Shapovalov (CAN)

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Monfils Sets Up Khachanov Clash In Adelaide Final

  • Posted: Jan 08, 2022

Gael Monfils reached his first ATP Tour final on Australian soil by beating homegrown Thanasi Kokkinakis 7-5, 6-0 in 80 minutes at the Adelaide International 1. From 5-5 in the first set, Monfils won eight straight games, before a tense 10-minute finale, for a chance to capture his 11th crown on Sunday.

Monfils, who hit seven aces and lost just five of his first-service points, will now challenge Karen Khachanov for the first time. Khachanov advanced to a title match at an ATP Tour event for the first time since November 2018 at the Rolex Paris Masters (d. Djokovic).

““The last two years I didn’t win tournaments, so for me to make it to another final, it’s very important,” said former World No. 8 Khachanov. “Obviously, I will fight like a dog tomorrow, and let’s see what happens.”


The second-seeded Russian broke a two-match losing streak in his third ATP Head2Head meeting against third-seeded Croatian Cilic with a 7-6(3), 6-3 victory over one hour and 54 minutes. Cilic beat Khachanov en route to the St. Petersburg Open title last year.

Adelaide Doubles Final Set
Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo drew on their big-match experience to defeat third seeds Ariel Behar and Gonzalo Escobar 6-3, 6-7(6), 10-2 for a place in the Adelaide doubles final. The Croatian/Brazilian team, winners of six doubles trophies, will face Indians Rohan Bopanna and Ramkumar Ramanathan, who were 6-2, 6-4 victors over fourth seeds Tomislav Brkic and Santiago Gonzalez.

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Kyrgios To Meet Fognini In Sydney; Karatsev, Murray In Action

  • Posted: Jan 08, 2022

Nick Kyrgios has been drawn to face fellow shot-maker Fabio Fognini in the first round of the Sydney Tennis Classic, which features Aslan Karatsev and former World No. 1 Andy Murray.

Kyrgios, who has not played an ATP Tour event since the Laver Cup in September 2021, beat Fognini 6-3, 6-3 in March 2018 at the Miami Open presented by Itau. The Australian wild card or seventh seed Fognini could meet fourth-seeded Reilly Opelka in the quarter-finals.

Murray, who also features in the bottom half of the draw on his Sydney debut, is set to face a qualifier in his first match, with a second-round clash against second seed Nikoloz Basilashvili on the horizon. Murray beat Basilashvili 6-4, 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 in the Wimbledon first round last year. Third-seeded Briton Daniel Evans, in the top half, plays Alexei Popyrin or Pedro Martinez in the second round.

View Sydney Singles & Doubles Draws

Top seed Karatsev, who began his journey up the ATP Rankings as Russia’s secret weapon at the 2021 ATP Cup and went onto reach the Australian Open semi-finals (l. to Djokovic), will play Serbia’s Miomir Kecmanovic or a qualifier in the second round.

Lorenzo Sonego, Dusan Lajovic and David Goffin also feature at the ATP 250 tournament at the Sydney Olympic Park Tennis Centre. In a loaded doubles field, top-seeded Croatians Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic, and second-seeded Colombians Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah headline.

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Felix & Shapovalov Send Canada To First ATP Cup Final

  • Posted: Jan 08, 2022

Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov sent Canada to its first ATP Cup final on Saturday when they defeated Daniil Medvedev and Roman Safiullin 4-6, 7-5, 10-7 to complete their country’s 2-1 win against Russia. Two-time finalist Spain awaits in Sunday’s championship tie.

The Canadians lost their first four matches of the competition, putting their hopes of qualifying for the knockout rounds in deep trouble. If the United States had beaten Great Britain in the Match Tie-break of their deciding doubles on Thursday, Canada would have been eliminated before playing their third match.

But Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov have taken full advantage of their opportunities in Sydney. Their excitement for the moment showed after Shapovalov poached to hit a winning short backhand volley on match point. The longtime friends leapt into each other’s arms to celebrate.

“Felix did an amazing job. I had a little bit of a slow start, had trouble returning, but we did a good job to fight,” Shapovalov said. “Felix played unbelievable in the game to break and then in the [Match] Tie-break as well, just making them play so much. It was awesome. We kept fighting. We have great team chemistry, team spirit, so it helped us a lot.”

Despite some scratchy baseline mistakes in his singles match, which carried into the doubles, Auger-Aliassime carved a stunning backhand drop volley at 6/5 in the Match Tie-Break. The World No. 11 double-faulted on his first match point at 9/6 and missed his first serve at 9/7, but they battled through after one hour and 38 minutes.

Shapovalov got the tie off to a good start for Canada when he clawed past Safiullin in a two-hour, 39-minute thriller at No. 2 singles. Medvedev then levelled the tie with a comprehensive victory against Auger-Aliassime at No. 1 singles.

“I had to try and stay positive. Of course it was tough, especially [because] that second set went the way it went in singles,” Auger-Aliassime said. “Denis helped me and the team to push myself. We had a tough start in the doubles, so to be able to come back in this way, it’s really a team effort.

“That’s what the ATP Cup is about. You can still win after being 1-all and losing a tough singles. It’s really about the team effort and we’re happy to be through. We’re really thrilled for the whole team.”

Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov are 1-1 on the week as a team, including a deciding doubles victory against doubles standouts Jamie Murray and Joe Salisbury in group play.

Medvedev and Safiullin had been 3-0 in doubles this week. Russia went 3-0 as a team in Group B action, but fell just a few points short of returning to the final

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Nadal Battles Into Melbourne Final, Plays Cressy

  • Posted: Jan 08, 2022

Rafael Nadal is one win away from capturing the 89th tour-level trophy of his illustrious career, after he booked a place in the final at the Melbourne Summer Set.

The Spanish superstar, in only his second match since August 2021, drew on his big-match experience on Saturday to battle past Emil Ruusuvuori of Finland 6-4, 7-5 in one hour and 56 minutes.

“It’s an important comeback after five months outside of competition and it means a lot to me to be back in Australia,” said Nadal, who last played at the Citi Open in August 2021. “I need to do some things better on court, but it’s step by step. My body is holding up, and that’s the main thing, and I need matches to get back to 100 per cent. I know my tennis isn’t perfect, but it’s about being patient and doing my best.”

Nadal will now prepare to challenge American qualifier Maxime Cressy, who will be appearing in his first ATP Tour final.

Pressure mounted on Ruusuvuori in the first set, which ended with a double fault and a forehand error. Nadal broke clear for a 5-3 lead in the 69-minute second set when Ruusuvuori made another groundstroke error, but the 22-year-old bounced back immediately. Nadal regained his composure and the match ended with the Finn making a forehand error.


Cressy continued his dream run earlier on Saturday. The 24-year-old knocked out former World No. 3 Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria 7-5, 7-6(9) in two hours and four minutes.

Cressy, who is already assured of his place in the Top 100 of the ATP Rankings for the first time on Monday, recovered from 3/6 in the second-set tie-break and closed out on his fourth match point. He struck 17 aces and saved all five break points he faced.

This week, Cressy has also beaten Australian qualifier Rinky Hijikata, second-seeded compatriot Reilly Opelka (including two match points saved) and Jaume Munar.

Melbourne Doubles Final Set
Top seeds Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski will take on sixth seeds Aleksandr Nedovyesov and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi in the Melbourne doubles final on Sunday. Koolhof and Skupski knocked out third seeds Marcelo Arevalo and Jean-Julien Rojer 6-2, 6-4 in 68 minutes, while Nedovyesov and Qureshi overcame Ricardas Berankis and Denys Molchanov 6-2, 6-2 in 57 minutes.

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Daniil Domination: Medvedev Beats Felix To Force Deciding Doubles

  • Posted: Jan 08, 2022

Daniil Medvedev wasted little time levelling Russia’s ATP Cup semi-final against Canada on Saturday at Ken Rosewall Arena. The World No. 2 produced a flawless performance to defeat Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-4, 6-0 and force a deciding doubles.

Call it a ‘Daniil Domination’.

Auger-Aliassime walked on court with plenty of confidence after defeating two-time Nitto ATP Finals champion Alexander Zverev on Thursday evening in a three-set thriller. But Medvedev frustrated the Canadian with his all-court game and cruised on serve to triumph after 69 minutes.

“It was really tough for me until 4-3 in the first. I actually thought, ‘How can I actually break his serve?’ He was serving just aces, playing good, so I knew I just had to stay in the match, try to do what I can, what’s possible against his big game,” Medvedev said. “He definitely started to play a little bit worse and I managed to use it, and that was the key today.”

Daniil Medvedev
Photo Credit: Peter Staples/ATP Tour
The Canadian started well and used his big serve to control points. But once he slapped a forehand into the net at 4-4 to give away the match’s first break, his game began to unravel.

Medvedev played from well behind the baseline and forced Felix to go for more on his shots to finish points. The 21-year-old struggled with his shot selection, which led to more unforced errors. And with the Russian winning 88 per cent of his first-serve points and going through the match without facing a break point, that left little room for Auger-Aliassime to claw back.

Medvedev now leads Auger-Aliassime 3-0 in their ATP Head2Head series. They last met in the semi-finals of the 2021 US Open at Flushing Meadows.

Denis Shapovalov kicked off the tie with a thrilling three-set victory over Russian “secret weapon” Roman Safiullin. Pending potential lineup changes, Medvedev and Safiullin are scheduled to face Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov in the deciding doubles. Both of those teams have won at least one deciding doubles this week.

“I feel like in one match anybody can win,” Medvedev said. “In one doubles match anything can happen, so we need to stay focussed, we need to be good and hopefully we can do it.”

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