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.
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 ATPTour.com 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…
SCHEDULE – WEDNESDAY, 5 JANUARY 2022
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)