Russia, the defending ATP Cup champions have crushed the hopes of host country Australia in their second tie at the tournament.
James Duckworth looked to be on track to claim the first set again Roman Sufiullin when up a break, and then again when out 4-1 in the tiebreak, however, his opponent held his nerve and gave Russia a 1-0 advantage.
Sufiullin took the first rubber 7-6(6), 6-4.
Daniil Medvedev, the world no. 2 was a class above Australia’s top-ranked player Alex de Minaur.
“He’s a very tactical player, in the sense of he baits you very well to go for a lot,” said De Minaur of Medvedev. “He’s obviously a very good mover with very good end-range shots. To beat him, you got to obviously be aggressive and take the net, but at the same time you don’t want to over press. I feel like I did a bit of that today, and made a couple too many unforced errors… He makes life quite difficult in that aspect and especially on this court his ball was shooting through and it was very tough to get any free points today.”
The US Open champion sealed the tie with a 6-4, 6-2 win in 80 minutes.
Both of Russia’s singles players also contested the doubles rubber against John Peers and Luke Saville.
It was a high-quality match, the Russians were there to win, and the Australians were playing for pride.
Saville and Peers held a set point in the first set tie-break at 6-5, then failed to convert and the Russians claimed the first set.
The Australians came back strong in the second set and sent the match into a super tie-breaker.
Medvedev and Safiullin were in control and completed a 3-0 victory for the defending champs.
“We fight when we play for our country, to the last point,” said World No. 2 Medvedev. “I didn’t feel great prior to the match, so I took some painkillers before I came out. I’m really happy for Roman, he’s winning every match he’s played so far. I watched his match tonight from the locker room. I’ve known him since he was 10, he had a good junior career and has been unlucky with injuries.”
Russia faces Italy in the final group match, the winner will most likely claim a semifinal berth.