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ATP Cup: Italy seal spot in semis, Germany edge Canada

February 03, 2021 10:10 IST
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Alexander Zverev

IMAGE: Germany's Alexander Zverev and Canada's Denis Shapovalov after their group stage match. Photograph: Kelly Defina/Reuters

Italy sealed a place in the semi-finals of the ATP Cup by winning both singles matches against France, on Wednesday, while Germany did their chances of progressing no harm by taking an unassailable 2-0 lead over Canada at the Rod Laver Arena.

With the second edition of the national team competition truncated because of Australian Open coronavirus quarantine, victory for Fabio Fognini and Matteo Berrettini in the singles combined with Tuesday's 2-1 win over Austria ensured Italy would top Group C.

 

Fognini downed Benoit Paire 6-1, 7-6(2) in the opening match of the day on John Cain Arena before Matteo Berrettini outwitted Gael Monfils 6-4, 6-2 to make France's doubles win academic.

"We are playing good, we've got great energy, we are really happy to be in the semi-finals," Berrettini said.

"Last year, I didn't play and unfortunately the guys couldn't make it, so we're really pumped."

If that clash was one-sided, the Germany-Canada Group A tie was anything but with four of the fives sets in the two singles matches decided by tiebreakers.

Germany's Jan-Lennard Struff dominated the first two and finished off Milos Raonic with a thumping ace for a 7-6(4), 7-6(2) victory that gave Germany a 1-0 lead in their opening tie.

After losing 2-1 to Novak Djokovic's Serbia on Tuesday, Canada needed to win the tie to stay alive in the competition and Denis Shapovalov made a positive start by taking the first set against Alexander Zverev.

Shapovalov, backing up after a loss to Djokovic, needed treatment on his shoulder as world number seven Zverev levelled up the contest in the second set, however.

Zverev, in his first match of the year, warmed to his task in a tight deciding set but was unable to convert seven break points as Shapovalov dug deep.

Shapovalov had his chances in the decisive tiebreak but an unforced error and a double fault at crucial moments opened the door for Zverev and the German stormed through it with his 14th and 15th aces for a 6-7(5), 6-3, 7-6(4) victory.

Russia could join Italy in the semi-finals if they can beat Japan in their Group D clash on later on Wednesday, while Greece play their first Group B tie against an Australia team facing an early exit after Tuesday's 3-0 drubbing at the hands of Spain.

Wawrinka beats Kukushkin to advance in Murray River Open

Former Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka warmed up for the season's first Grand Slam with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 victory over Kazakh Mikhail Kukushkin to reach the last 16 of the Murray River Open warm-up tournament in Melbourne.

Playing in his first competitive match since a defeat by Alexander Zverev in the Paris Masters quarter-finals last year, three-times major champion Wawrinka dropped a tight first set before switching gears in the next two to seal the victory.

Top seed Wawrinka, who sent down 14 aces and converted four out of seven breakpoint chances in the match, will continue his bid for a first ATP crown since winning in Geneva in 2017 and takes on local favourite Alex Bolt on Thursday.

Wawrinka underwent knee surgery following his last title and had trouble with niggling injuries through 2018 during which his ranking fell to 263. He is currently ranked 35th.

Wawrinka's coach Daniel Vallverdu said in December the 35-year-old, who won the 2014 Australian Open, will make a final push for success before the end of his career.

The Australian Open begins on Monday.

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