- World No. 167 Safiullin’s gutsy 7-6(6), 6-4 victory over James Duckworth in the second singles match
- Safiullin’s performance also drew praises from Medvedev
- Russia will now play Italy on Thursday, while Australia will challenge France
Daniil Medvedev and Roman Safiullin shone in Russia’s win over defending champions Australia on Tuesday to go 2-0 up in Group B of the ATP Cup.
Medvedev silenced the majority of the home supporters at the Qudos Bank Arena with his fourth-straight set victory over Alex de Minaur 6-4, 6-2 over 80 minutes. It was followed by World No. 167 Safiullin’s gutsy 7-6(6), 6-4 victory over James Duckworth in the second singles match of the tie.
“We fight when we play for our country, to the last point,” said World No. 2 Medvedev. “I did not 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 will now play Italy on Thursday in a repeat of the 2021 ATP Cup final, while hosts Australia will challenge France.
For Medvedev, it was a case of seeing the ball, hitting the ball in the first three games against de Minaur and it wasn’t until fourth game of the opening set that the Russian made his first error.
The first set then became tactical for De Minaur, with ferocious hitting and intricate slice play aplenty. The Australian did well to recover from 15/40 at 3-5, but Medvedev gave no let-up on the first serve and closed out the 41-minute opener with an ace.
Leading 5-4 in the first set, Medvedev put his foot down and won the next six games, pushing his the 22-year-old Aussie opponent to find the lines from the baseline or move swiftly up the court for low balls. De Minaur fought hard as always but Medvedev was simply too good on Tuesday night.
Safiullin, who upset Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech on Sunday, defeated James Duckworth in just under two hours. “It was a great match for me and the match before as well. This one I would say started more or less the same, but then (I was able to) come back in the first set,” Safiullin said. “At the end, I could push James a bit more and managed to win.”
Safiullin, who was the hero in his country’s 2-1 triumph against France, was once again undeterred by the moment at Qudos Bank Arena. Despite trailing for much of the first set, he battled into a tie-break, where he secured his advantage.
Duckworth fought hard in front of his home crowd, even holding his hat in his left hand as he crushed a forehand winner in the second game of the second set. But the No. 49 in the ATP Rankings was unable to triumph on his ATP Cup debut.
(Reported by IANS)