Power Duo Boosts Poland Into ATP Cup Semifinals Against Spain

Kamil Majchrzak (photo: Dan Peled / Tennis Australia)

SYDNEY/WASHINGTON, January 5, 2022 (by Michael Dickens)

All week long at the ATP Cup in Sydney, Poland’s unheralded Kamil Majchrzak has been the table setter for his teammate, the much better-known World No. 9 Hubert Hurkacz. The 25-year-old Majchrzak has been lights out, winning all three of his No. 2 singles matches against opponents from Greece, Georgia and Argentina in straight sets.

On Wednesday afternoon inside Qudos Bank Arena, Majchrzak played solidly against No. 44 Federico Delbonis of Argentina in a battle of lefties. The rising Polish star, who began the week ranked 117th but is assured of breaking into the Top 100 soon, defeated Delbonis 6-3, 7-6 (3), in an hour and 45 minutes. He hit 17 winners and outpointed his opponent 83-66.

“I’m trying not to look at the rankings. I was trying to look at Federico and make my plan and make my game to [find] the best possible way to beat him,” Majchrzak said during his on-court interview after victory. “I managed to do it. I was watching his matches, so I was ready. My ranking maybe is out of the Top 100, but I feel like I belong in the Top 100 and more, so I’m going for it now.”

Then, Hurkacz saved all three break points he faced and beat Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman, 6-1, 6-4, in one hour and 21 minutes to lift Poland into the ATP Cup semifinals for the first time. Hurkacz fired 12 aces, hit 25 winners and outpointed Schwartzman 68-48.

Poland’s Szymon Walkow and Jan Zielinski made it a clean sweep of the day against Argentina by winning the dead doubles rubber, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5) over Maximo Gonzalez and Andres Molteni.

Poland, which also scored wins over Georgia and Greece, finished Group D play 3-0. Argentina ended 2-1.

“So happy for our team, for Team Poland. We’re in the semis. So super proud of that achievement,” the 24-year-old Hurkacz said during an on-court interview. “We’re a great team. We have great team spirit. We support each other. I think the atmosphere that we bring helps us play better.”

Later, during Team Poland’s press conference, Hurkacz praised his teammate Majchrzak. “Super proud of Kamil,” he said. “He did an amazing job today, so super happy for him. He had the big win at the beginning and then I played a solid match after.”

Hurkacz made a point to give a shout out to all his teammates. “It’s great that we’re doing it for our country,” he said. “I mean, with Kamil, with Jan, with Szymon, Kacper (Zuk), I mean, we’ve been seeing each other like the junior tournaments in Poland in some small towns and in the bubble like there was zeros degrees Celsius and now we are here.

“It’s really great that we all came for that journey and then we are here in the semifinals right now. It really means a lot to us.”

Spain sets up semifinal showdown with Poland

Meanwhile, Spain needed only to win one of the three matches against 2020 ATP Cup champion Serbia to win Group A and set up a semifinal showdown with Poland. That’s because Chile’s 2-1 win over Norway during the day session meant Serbia needed to sweep Spain to advance.

First, No. 20 Pablo Carreño Busta defeated No. 42 Filip Krajinovic, 6-3, 6-4, to secure Spain’s semifinal berth. Then, World No. 19 Roberto Bautista Agut completed the group-stage win with his 6-1, 6-4 victory over Dusan Lajovic in 84 minutes Wednesday evening at Ken Rosewall Arena. It was his fifth career win over the 33rd-ranked Lajovic, who was elevated to No. 1 singles following Novak Djokovic‘s withdrawal from the ATP Cup last week.

Serbia’s Nikola Cacic and Matej Sabanov won the dead double rubber over Pedro Martinez and Albert Ramos-Vinolas, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 10-5, for the final 2-1 score that favored Spain.

The Spanish finished Group A play 3-0, dropping only one set en route to victories over Chile, Norway and Serbia.

Carreño Busta, who smacked 30 winners and broke his Krajinovic three times, needed just 80 minutes to earn his third singles win during the round-robin stage. It improved his career head-to-head against the Serbian to 2-1. He said it was the best match of the group during his on-court interview.

“I am close to 100 percent,” the Spaniard said. “Today, I played very well, very aggressively, very solid. I feel very comfortable on court, so it is going well.”

Later, during his team’s press conference, Carreño Busta said: “It’s very important now to be in semifinals, but I think that we play three ties very, very, very focused, very solid, and winning all the matches is very important for the confidence.

“And now thinking in Poland, they also won all of these ties. We need to be careful but thinking that we can do it. We have a very good team, and if we continue like today, I think that we have a lot of chances to win the final.”

Bautista Agut added: “I think Poland has been doing very well. They have a strong team, but as Pablo said, we have to be very focused on us, on our game, and if we play good and we do our job well, we will have our chances to win.”

Chile 2, Norway 1

Alejandro Tabilo beat Viktor Durasovic, 6-1, 6-7 (5), 6-1, before World No. 8 Casper Ruud leveled the tie for Norway with a 6-4, 6-1 win against 17th-ranked Cristian Garin at Ken Rosewall Arena.

Then, Tabilo and Tomas Barrios Vera clinched the doubles for Chile with a 6-0, 6-4 win over Andreja Petrovic and Leyton Rivera of Norway. It meant Chile finished Group A with a 2-1 win-loss record and Norway ended 0-3.

Greece 2, Georgia 1

Greece earned its first tie victory with a 2-1 win over last-place Georgia Wednesday evening at Qudos Bank Arena. Michail Pervolarakis defeated Aleksandre Metreveli, 6-3, 6-2, then World No. 4 Stefanos Tsitsipas won by retirement over No. 22 Nikoloz Basilashvili, ahead 4-1. The Georgians won their only point in group play during the dead doubles rubber as Metreveli and Aleksandre Bakshi beat Pervolarakis and Tsitsipas, 4-6, 6-3, 16-14.

Looking back on Wednesday

Looking ahead to Thursday

By the numbers

Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut is 10-2 overall at the ATP Cup and has played singles in all 12 of Spain’s ties during the event’s three-year history. He has posted wins over Cristian Garin of Chile, Casper Ruud of Norway and Dusan Lajovic of Serbia in this year’s competition.

“Quotable …”

“I’m very happy about my performance, the whole matches here, and it was kind of a throwback today to play against Argentina because two years ago I got injured after playing against Argentina.

“So, I wanted to do well, I wanted to do better this year and I did. It was a very difficult match for me, but I was very happy with the outcome of this match.”

Kamil Majchrzak of Poland, who won all three of his No. 2 singles matches in group play.