SYDNEY, January 9, 2020 (by Alessandro Boroch)
Argentina and Russia were set to open their respective campaigns in the round of the final eight during Thursday’s night session at the inaugural ATP Cup. Earlier the day, Australia prevailed over Great Britain in a dramatic tie to claim the first semi-finals spot.
In the first singles rubber, Russia’s Karen Khachanov, ranked 17th in the world, and World No. 25 Guido Pella from Argentina, faced each other. It was only their second ever meeting on the ATP Tour, with Pella having prevailed in their maiden head2head encounter, but on a rather slow clay court at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell in 2019. This time, the Moscow native managed to wreak vengeance on the Argentinian, beating him 6-2, 7-6(4) in an hour and 38 minutes to improve his singles record at the ATP Cup to a flawless 4-0.
During the first set, Khachanov managed to break Pella’s serve three times and only dropped one first-serve point (10/11).
The 29-year-old Argentinian found a better rhythm as the match progressed and earned four breakpoints in the sixth game of the second set, aiming to possibly take the lead in a set for the first time throughout the match. However, the Russian was able to redeem these break opportunities, as he continued to get strong first serves into play, which were very difficult to read for his opponent.
In the following tie-break, Pella ran away with the first mini break, but Khachanov stayed composed, was able to catch up quickly, thanks to a forehand winner, and finally ended the match with his eight ace.
“I started to get really pumped, aggressive, and basically making the shots, not missing. That’s important when you want to play aggressive. And I think that was working pretty well,” Khachanov said. “Overall, I’m really happy with my performance today.”
Next up on Ken Rosewall Arena was the match between 2019 US Open runner-up Daniil Medvedev and World No. 13 Diego Schwartzman. It was a match dominated by baseline rallies, in which Medvedev emerged victorious after two hours and 30 minutes, winning 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, and therefore securing Russia’s ticket into the final four at the ATP Cup.
After losing the first set, Schwartzman started dictating most of the rallies and reading the Russian’s serve better, wherefore it was no big surprise that the 27-year-old Argentine took the lead in the second set after breaking Medvedev’s serve at 3-3.
Visibly upset by the fact that he has not much control over the match, Medvedev started an argument with the chair umpire Mohamed Lahyani afterwards, because he thought that he was previously given an unjustified code violation. The 23-year-old Russian, who has taken leave of his senses, went on striking the umpire’s chair with his racquet at 3-4, whereby he was granted a point penalty.
In the end, however, the Russian high-flyer refocused, and one break of serve was enough for him to grab the deciding set. Medvedev hit 14 aces, won 78 per-cent (53/68) first-serve points and was able to save eight of ten break points. He improved his record to 4-0 in singles at the ATP Cup.
— ATPCup (@ATPCup) January 9, 2020
“We made our job. All the matches were won in singles, which is amazing, and I think only Spain did the same so far,” Medvedev said. “It’s really great. We played great with Karen. Hopefully we can go all the way, but I’m really happy with the way ATP Cup is going for Team Russia.”
Teymuraz Gabashvili and Konstantin Kravchuk closed out the dead doubles rubber 7-6(5) 6-4 against Alejandro Gonzalez and Andres Molteni to take the tie 3-0 for Russia. The team will either face Serbia or Canada next.