Preview: From Small Towns In Poland To ATP Cup Semi-finals vs. Spain

  • Posted: Jan 06, 2022

Friday’s ATP Cup semi-final against Spain is another stop on a decades-long journey for Team Poland. World No. 9 Hubert Hurkacz spoke of the long-standing friendships within the camp following Wednesday’s crucial 3-0 win over Argentina that sealed top spot in Group D. “It’s great doing it for our country. Kamil [Majchrzak], Jan [Zielinski], Szymon [Walkow] and Kacper [Zuk], we all saw each other at junior tournaments in Poland in small towns where it was 0°C, and now we are here.”

Hurkacz is especially familiar with No. 2 singles player Majchrzak and has not been surprised by the World No. 117’s strong performances in beating Michail Pervolarakis 6-1, 6-4, Aleksandre Bakshi 6-1, 6-1 and Federico Delbonis 6-3, 7-6(3).

“I don’t remember my first meeting with Kamil, we were probably like nine years old, maybe 10, something like this,” said Hurkacz. “Actually, I never managed to win against him. We’ve all come on that journey, and we are here in the semi-finals right now, so it really means a lot to us.”

Majchrzak himself was glad to redress a painful personal ATP Cup memory after the match against Delbonis. “Two years ago, I got injured after playing against Argentina,” said Majchrzak. “So I wanted to do well, I wanted to do better this year and I did.”

Majchrzak’s singles opponent on Friday evening, Team Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta, is not focusing on the past ahead of the semi-final. The pair’s only previous meeting was a 6-1, 6-1 victory for the Pole at a 2015 ATP Challenger Tour event in Morocco. “I know I’m a better player than six years ago,” Carreno Busta said. “I suppose he is too, but I’ve had a lot of good results since, and now I’m feeling more comfortable than earlier in my career.”

Carreno Busta has certainly shown this week why he now sits at No. 20 in the ATP Rankings, defeating Alejandro Tabilo 6-4, 7-6(4), Viktor Durasovic 6-3, 6-3 and Filip Krajinovic 6-3, 6-4.

World No. 19 Roberto Bautista Agut faces Hurkacz in the No. 1 singles match, but the Spaniard is refusing to draw any conclusions from the 2-0 ATP Head2Head lead he currently holds over his opponent. The pair has not met since 2020 and Bautista Agut doesn’t think his good record against the big-serving Pole will affect their meeting on Friday night. “He’s a better player now, so I think I have to focus on me, on my game,” said Bautista Agut. “If I do my things well, I will have chances to win the match.”

Bautista Agut is hoping to maintain his fine form from the group stage, where he did not drop a set in defeating Cristian Garin 6-0, 6-3, World No. 8 Casper Ruud 6-4, 7-6(4) and Dusan Lajovic 6-1, 6-4. He has also been impressed with the performances of his teammates. “I think we have to be very happy,” said Bautista Agut, “I think the level on the court, [highlighted] that we showed up every day and the way that we won the matches was good.”

Neither team has lost a tie at the 2022 ATP Cup thus far, and both hold 8-1 match records with just a solitary doubles loss each. Team Spain has the semi-final experience, but will be especially wary of Hurkacz, who now holds a 6-0 career record in ATP Cup singles after beating Aristotelis Thanos 6-1, 6-2, Aleksandre Metreveli 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-1 and Diego Schwartzman 6-1, 6-4 this week.

“We need to think carefully that we can do it,” said Bautista Agut on Team Spain’s chances, “We have a very good team, and if we continue like today, we have a big chance to win.”

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