The 2022 ATP Tour season is about to begin. Across nine days and 27 ties, 16 countries will battle to become ATP Cup champion. Will Italy go one step further than last year and lift the trophy? Or will one of the remaining 15 nations take the title?
Here are the five things that matter most ahead of Day 1 at the 2022 ATP Cup.
Top 10 Stars Meet
Greece and Poland will clash during the night session on Qudos Bank Arena and the captains – Apostolos Tsitsipas and Marcin Matkowski – realise the importance of the Group D tie. Tsitsipas admitted, “I think Poland has a good team, and we have also a good team and we are ready for that.” Matkowski said, “It’s a tough task to play against Greece, but I think our team is much better than we were two years ago. We are more experienced, and all the guys are looking forward to the match. It won’t be easy, but we are confident if we are playing our best we can win this one.”
The standout clash on Saturday will see World No. 4 Stefanos Tsitsipas take on No. 9-ranked Hubert Hurkacz in the No, 1 singles match. While Tsitsipas leads 6-2 in their ATP Head2Head, Hurkacz snapped a three-match losing streak against the Greek with a 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 quarter-final victory en route to the Miami Open presented by Itau crown in April 2021.
Ruud’s Rapid Rise
At the inaugural ATP Cup in January 2020, Casper Ruud showcased his growing potential with singles wins over Fabio Fognini and John Isner, prior to a hard-fought loss to Daniil Medvedev. “We were underdogs in every match we played,” said Ruud on Thursday. “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.”
It was the beginning of his rise from No. 54 in the ATP Rankings to his current high of No. 8, achieved in October last year, when Ruud recorded a career-best 57 match wins and won five ATP Tour titles. In Sydney on Saturday, Norway opens its Group A campaign against defending champion Serbia with 23-year-old Ruud looking to extend his perfect 2-0 record against Dusan Lajovic.
Spain Looks For Early Momentum
Roberto Bautista Agut and Pablo Carreno Busta are both competing at the ATP Cup for the third straight year and are keen to go one step better than in 2020, when both players helped Spain reach the ATP Cup final. Last year, the team reached the semi-finals and Bautista Agut, who has a 7-2 record in singles matches in the tournament, realises the importance of getting off to a good start on Saturday against Chile in Group A. “I think we have to be very focused in our three points,” Bautista Agut said. “I feel I [am] practising well [and] 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.”
Carreno Busta, who made his ATP Cup singles debut last year, opens singles play against Alejandro Tabilo of Chile. World No. 19 Bautista Agut will then face No. 17-ranked Cristian Garin, hoping to replicate his 7-5(5), 6-3 victory in May 2021 at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome.
Diego Schwartzman leads Argentina for the third straight year and will be hoping to improve upon his 2-3 record at the ATP Cup when he meets Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia in the No. 1singles in the Group D clash. Federico Delbonis will make his tournament debut against Aleksandre Metreveli in the first match.
With two singles and a doubles making up each tie, it may go down to the wire. At the inaugural ATP Cup, 14 ties were decided by doubles matches and last year seven of the 15 ties resulted in nail-biting victories. While team captains are able to change their doubles line ups, Argentina could field 38-year-old Maximo Gonzalez – a winner of 11 ATP Tour doubles titles – and eight-time team titlist Andres Molteni for a potential deciding match.
Two Sydney Venues
This year, ATP Cup matches will be played out across two venues in Sydney. The Ken Rosewall Arena, named after the great Australian player, is the main 10,500-seater stadium at the Sydney Olympic Tennis Park Centre. While the Qudos Bank Arena, with a capacity for more than 21,000 spectators, is a 15-minute walk away at Sydney Olympic Park, developed for the 2000 Olympic Games. Both arenas will play host to 12 group ties across the first six days, before the semi-finals and final on Ken Rosewall Arena over the final three days.
SCHEDULE – SATURDAY, 1 JANUARY 2022
KEN ROSEWALL ARENA start 10:00 am
Group A – Chile v Spain, Day Session
A. Tabilo (CHI) vs P. Carreno Busta (ESP)
C. Garin (CHI) vs R. Bautista Agut (ESP)
Subject to change – T. Barrios Vera (CHI) / A. Tabilo (CHI) vs A. Davidovich Fokina (ESP) / P. Martinez (ESP)
Start 5:30 pm
Group A – Serbia v Norway, Night Session
F. Krajinovic (SRB) vs V. Durasovic (NOR)
Not Before 7:00 pm
D. Lajovic (SRB) vs C. Ruud (NOR)
Subject to change – N. Cacic (SRB) / M. Sabanov (SRB) vs V. Durasovic (NOR) / C. Ruud (NOR)
QUDOS BANK ARENA start 10:00 am
Group D – Argentina v Georgia, Day Session
F. Delbonis (ARG) vs A. Metreveli (GEO)
D. Schwartzman (ARG) vs N. Basilashvili (GEO)
Subject to change – M. Gonzalez (ARG) / A. Molteni (ARG) vs A. Bakshi (GEO) / A. Metreveli (GEO)
Start 5:30 pm
Group D – Greece v Poland, Night Session
M. Pervolarakis (GRE) vs K. Majchrzak (POL)
Not Before 7:00 pm
S. Tsitsipas (GRE) vs H. Hurkacz (POL)
Subject to change – M. Pervolarakis (GRE) / S. Tsitsipas (GRE) vs S. Walkow (POL) / J. Zielinski (POL)