Tsitsipas whips Zverev as top names crash at ATP Cup

Agence France-Presse
Tsitsipas whips Zverev as top names crash at ATP Cup
Stefanos Tsitsipas, who won the 2019 season-ending ATP Finals, shows he is in a different league against Alexander Zverev

SYDNEY, Australia – Stefanos Tsitsipas whipped an error-strewn Alexander Zverev to win the battle of the big guns at the ATP Cup on Sunday, January 5, inflicting a second straight loss on the German in his warm-up for the Australian Open.

On Day 3 of the inaugural 24-nation team event in Sydney, Brisbane, and Perth, world No. 11 David Goffin was another loser, along with Italy’s Fabio Fognini, ranked one place below him.

Greek star Tsitsipas, who won the 2019 season-ending ATP Finals in London and is now ranked No. 6, was in a different league to Zverev, who only began hitting balls a week ago after an off-season curtailed by a lucrative exhibition tour.

The lackluster German world No. 7 sent down 10 double faults and made just 45 percent of his first serves, a worrying sign ahead of the opening Grand Slam of the year.

He lost to Australia’s Alex de Minaur in his opening match on Friday, throwing away a one-set lead.

“I worked very hard for this win, I found solutions, found my rhythm, and my pace, and knew what I was doing on court,” said the impressive 21-year-old Tsitsipas after his 6-1, 6-4 walloping in Brisbane.

“I was serving pretty okay and played clever again. I managed to stay calm and positive in my head.”  

The Boris Becker-captained Germans have now won one of their opening ties, while the Greeks has lost both of theirs.

The 24 countries are split into 6 groups, with the top 8 from the round-robin going onto the knockout phase before one is crowned the winner.

The Grigor Dimitrov-led Bulgaria won its second tie in a row, beating Moldova, 2-1, to be in a commanding position in Group C, while Australia also made it two-out-of-two in Group F with De Minaur again on fire in its 3-0 sweep of Canada.

Belgium’s Goffin saved 5 match points against Dan Evans, but it was too little, too late as he crashed 6-4, 6-4 in Sydney for one of the biggest wins of the Briton’s career.

Jamie Murray and Joe Salisbury won the deciding doubles to secure the tie for Britain, 2-1.

Cards you’re dealt

Fognini was beaten in Perth by emerging Norwegian 21-year-old Casper Ruud, who claimed his second big scalp after upsetting American John Isner in his first match on Friday.

Ruud, whose father Christian is Norway’s captain, won 6-2, 6-2, although it was not enough to prevent Norway losing 2-1 to Italy.

Stefano Travaglia won the other singles and Fognini bounced back alongside Simone Bolelli to take the deciding doubles rubber.

“Coming out here and beating two top 20 players at the beginning of the year is great for my confidence,” said world No. 54 Ruud.

Mercurial Australian Nick Kyrgios pulled out of his country’s tie against Canada just hours before it started with back soreness.

But John Millman seamlessly stepped in to stun Felix Auger-Aliassime in straight sets before De Minaur again showed the fighting qualities for which he is renowned.

After bouncing back from losing the opening set to Zverev on Friday, he did the same against Denis Shapovalov in a gutsy 6-7 (6/8), 6-4, 6-2 three-hour display.

“I would love to take care of things a bit easier, but you kind of got to play the cards you’re dealt,” said De Minaur.

Australian captain Lleyton Hewitt said Kyrgios would be assessed before their next tie on Tuesday.

Elsewhere, Dimitrov, who is player-coach of Bulgaria, whipped Moldova’s top player Radu Albot 6-2, 6-3 for his second win of the tournament, having already beaten Evans.

“I wanted to give something back to the boys and just make sure that they learn. That’s it,” said the former world No. 3 on why he accepted the dual role in an inexperienced team. – Rappler.com

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