The Australians opposed it when Alex de Minaur entered the Sydney pitch, but the 22-year-old was not put off.
Australian Alex de Minaur bounced back from a rambling 2021 and threw down the gauntlet ahead of the Australian Open by stunning world No.7 Matteo Berrettini of Italy in straight sets, 6-3, 7-6, at the ATP Cup in Sydney.
The victory at de Minaur’s spiritual home, Ken Rosewall Arena, inspired Australia to a stunning 2-1 Group B victory over the Italians, who are among the favorites to eliminate the entire tournament.
Even before a ball was served, the Australians opposed it.
Hours before Australia’s opener in the tag team tournament which opens the men’s calendar, James Duckworth has been sent off with a hip injury.
The stroke of the 11th hour left world number 176 Max Purcell at the mercy of much sought-after young Italian Jannik Sinner, who slaughtered him in straight sets.
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De Minaur (world No.34) found himself with all the pressure on his shoulders and none of the tipsters on his side as the Australians hoped to stay in touch with a best-of-three win.
Winning would have been equal to the biggest win of his career in the standings, and not only that he was going to have to do it against last year’s Wimbledon runner-up, who beat Dominic Thiem, Gael Monfils and Roberto Bautista Agut on the way for last year’s ATP Cup final.
So when the hometown hero opened up a comfortable lead in the first set, Sydney spectators were understandably excited.
They erupted when he took out the first set, 6-3, as a fair reward for keeping his foot on the accelerator for the duration of the game up to that point.
The second set seemed destined for a tie-break from the start, with each man taking turns hitting the other.
In every game he claimed, de Minaur was no less elated in his celebrations than a young Lleyton Hewitt, who sat a few yards away as captain of the Australian squad on Sunday night.
More than one foot foul left the Italian shaken, before the match moved to the second set tiebreaker he so deserved.
The 22-year-old Sydneysider caused a sensation in the tennis world by eliminating the 7-4 tiebreaker and therefore the game.
“I think it’s no secret that this tribunal brings out the best in me. There’s nothing quite like playing at home and in front of a packed crowd, which is just amazing, ”said de Minaur after the fact, visibly moved.
De Minaur suffered his fair share of setbacks last year, the most notable of which was a coronavirus crisis that forced him out of the Tokyo Games.
But the Australian seemed confident he had put the Olympic heartbreak behind him.
“It’s not about how many times you get knocked down… it’s how many times you get knocked down and get up,” he said.
“I’m in the best shape of my life and ready to have a great year.”
Perhaps spurred on by the heroism of their compatriot, Australians Luke Saville and John Peers sealed the victory by dusting Italians Simone Bolelli and Berrettini in the doubles match.
Berrettini was a late inclusion in place of Fabio Fognini, who was substituted for tactical reasons.
After dominating the first set, the two Australians lost their momentum in the second before edging out their rivals in a tie-break to claim the victory in straight sets, 6-3, 7-5.
It was Minaur who was the man of the hour, however.
Ugo’s huge upheaval
Daniil Medvedev’s hopes of avenging heartbreak at last year’s Australian Open ran into trouble on ATP Cup day two when he was ambushed in a three-set thriller by a man who wasn’t even on the toss last week.
Following the withdrawal of Novak Djokovic, world No.2 Medvedev established himself as the biggest star in the Sydney tournament this year, but in his first game he was brought down to earth by French world No.35 Ugo. Humbert, 7-6, 5-7, 6-7.
It took Austria to abandon the ATP Cup in the days leading up to the new year for France to be included in the tournament and as the team’s top seed Humbert had to face the almighty task to fight with the second best man. player in the world.
He may have beaten Medvedev in the pair’s only previous encounter, but few gave the 23-year-old a chance this time around, especially as Medvedev led Russia to victory in the ATP Cup 2021 and went 10-0 in the team events overall. Last year.
Humbert lost the first set in a tiebreaker, but made up for it after three games behind in the second to bring his much-loved rival to a third set.
There was no less tension in the final set, which also ended in a tie-break.
Gathering all the strength he had left after nearly three hours of play, Humbert did the unthinkable and polished the 2021 US Open champion 7-2 in the tie-break to send shockwaves through the community. tennis.
It is the biggest victory in the Frenchman’s professional career to date.
In the first of the previous matches, Russian Roman Safiullin (No.167) caused a major upheaval by beating Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech (No.58) with a set down.
Medvedev’s loss doomed Russia to a decisive doubles match against the French, but the world No.2 combined with Safiullin to avoid what would have been a best-of-three reversal.
Russia beat France 6-4, 6-4 to claim the 2-1 victory.
North American clash
On Sunday, two traditional rivals faced off in the ATP Cup, but a hilarious moment before the second clash between Canada and the United States certainly helped break the tension.
Just hours before the start of the game, Canadian southpaw Denis Shapovalov withdrew from his team’s first singles match of the day, citing fatigue after his isolation with Covid-19.
The world No.14 tested positive upon arrival in Sydney and, although he has since been released from biosecurity protocols, has chosen not to participate in the match.
“I’m disappointed that I couldn’t play the first game, but I didn’t feel physically ready yet, so we did what was best for the team,” he said.
The 11th hour withdrawal propelled world number 238 Brayden Schnur into the spotlight, where American number 24 John Isner took just over an hour to roll him in straight sets.
The second clash, contested by the Canadian world n ° 11 Felix Auger-Aliassime and the American Taylor Fritz (n ° 23) started badly.
As usual, the pair posed on either side of the net for a pre-match photo.
However, no photographer showed up to capture the top ranked players from rival nations, leaving players grinning into the abyss.
“There is no photographer, you can go,” said a match official, realizing the mistake.
The players then dispersed for what started as a close struggle.
Fritz ultimately defeated his opponent to ensure the United States would win over Canada with a game in hand.
As the Australians faced Italy at Ken Rosewall Arena, Great Britain and Germany faced off at Qudos Bank Arena.
The Brits won the opener comfortably, with Daniel Evans (world No.25) holding Jan-Lennard Struff (No.51) at arms length throughout the brawl 6-1, 6-2.
All eyes then turned to the big battle between the German Alexander Zverev (world n ° 3) and Cameron Norries (n ° 12).
Zverev inflicted a similar penalty on Evans by scoring Norries in straight sets, 7-6, 6-1, and setting up a decisive doubles showdown.
There Jamie Murray and Evans, replaced by Joe Salisbury, only needed two sets to defeat the Germans in the match and win the Group C draw.