Great Britain beat the United States, but came out of the semi-finals with a great Canadian victory over Germany
The tennis powerhouse Spain has always seemed the favorite to move up to Group A in Sydney this week, even without the superstar, the powerhouse major winner Rafael Nadal.
Effectively with two former top 10 stalwarts like world No.19 Roberto Bautista Agut and No.20 Pablo Carreno Busta in their corner, and only one top 20 player in Norway and Chile – and Serbia without their own superstar, Novak Djokovic – this It was a deal done almost from day one. The two Spaniards in their 30s have won their three singles matches, and the team lost just one point in the nine games played to seal their place in the semi-finals, 8-1.
Perhaps more surprisingly, Poland became the other side to advance to the semi-finals on a busy Wednesday in humid Sydney. The team’s singles players were led by one of the most improved men on the tour in 2021, No.9 Hubert Hurkacz, but compatriot Kamil Majchrzak, ranked only 117, tied Hurkacz with a streak of three singles wins, with the two men dominating Argentina’s strength against No.13 Diego Schwartzman and No.44 Federico Delbonis.
Thus, like Spain, Poland is heading towards its semi-final at 8-1: the Poles have conceded only one doubles match.
However, things were going straight on Thursday, as the other two groups contested for a spot in the other semi-final.
For Group B, the scenario was simple: the winner won everything between Russia and Italy.
The Italians appeared to be the favorites of their group at the start of the tournament, fielding as they did No.7 Matteo Berrettini, No.10 Jannik Sinner, as well as singles substitute for No.27 Lorenzo Sonego and no. ° 37 Fabio Fognini. Combined with the expertise of Simone Bolelli in doubles, this helped sweep the three compatriot nations.
But it didn’t start well for Berrettini, who lost both singles and doubles matches in their opener against Australia. But a 3-0 run against France kept Italy in the race, although world number 2 Daniil Medvedev, with the exceptional support of number 167 Roman Safiullin, knocked out both of their ties and dominated the group before the last one. group game day.
So, could the defending champions, even without two of their best players – Andrey Rublev and Aslan Karatev, sidelined by Covid infections – be able to seal the semi-final?
Medvedev would team up again with Safiullin for Russia on Thursday, while Italy would also team up with Berrettini and Sinner. And once Sinner completed his winning streak against Safiullin, all eyes turned to Berrettini, who faced Medvedev for the first time since the 2021 ATP Cup final, where the Russian was the 6-4 winner, 6-2 to seal the trophy for Russia.
And once again, US Open champion Medvedev delivered a three-set thriller that lasted two hours 40 minutes, 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-4, to bring the draw to a double confrontation.
Once there, the four key protagonists teamed up, and again it took Russia three sets to deny Italy, 5-7, 6-4, 10-5.
But that got Russia to the semi-finals, but who would they meet there? As this unfolded in the Ken Rosewall arena, GB faced off against the United States in the Qudos Bank arena, knowing they had to win to stay in the chase.
If Cam Norrie and Dan Evans got the upper hand over John Isner and Taylor Fritz – and it was the bottom-ranked Evans who won all three games rather than Norrie – then the Brits would have to wait until evening to see if Germany could beat Canada and propel GB to the semi-finals.
Because if the Canadians, in the form of their young hard-working stars Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov, beat Alexander Zverev’s Germany, it was the Canadians who made their way to the semi-finals.
And Evans, once again, gave GB a good start with an impressive 6-4, 7-6 (3) victory over Isner, the Briton, a foot shorter than his imposing American opponent, outclassing Isner in both. first and second serve, and with enough touch, variety and speed to bamboozle the American at key points.
However, for the third time, Norrie was unable to win her singles match, this time losing in three sets to Taylor Fritz. Thus, the doubles would be the key again for GB, and it was Evans who lent himself to play with Jamie Murray for almost two more hours; His reward, however, was to keep GB’s hopes, 6-7 (3), 7-5, 10-8.
Evans and his fellow Britons could do nothing more. Their hopes now depended on Germany’s victory over Canada in a late-night session, a session that began with another long battle between Shapovalov and Jan-Lennard Struff. It took over two and a half hours and three sets, 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-3, for Canada to take the lead.
It was now up to Auger-Aliassime to beat Zverev, whether in singles or doubles. He had only beaten the No.3 World, Olympic and ATP Finals champion in five previous encounters just once, but this time he got off to a perfect start with a break in Game 1. He then sealed the set, 6-4, and although Zverev leveled things in the second, 4-6, the 21-year-old Canadian lived with the German’s powerful play at 3-3 in the third, before breaking in the seventh game.
From there, Auger-Aliassime played near flawless tennis, using power, depth and angles to outscore Zverev for the win, 6-3, after more than two and a half hours.
And so it is Canada that will face Russia on Saturday, and perhaps now with the advantage, as Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov have taken on the challenges more and more as the week goes on and also proved to be a formidable one. double duet. And while Medvedev has seen lower-ranked compatriot Roman Safiullin play well above his No.167, the pressure will now surely start to kick in as Russia laments the absence of Rublev and Karatsev.