Daniil Medvedev’s lack of Russia faces tough ATP Cup defense

Russia is in its defense of the ATP Cup with a team battered by injuries and Covid-19, but world number two Daniil Medvedev said on Friday it made them want to win more. Three of the four members of the team that won for brutal Russia in the final against Italy in 2021 withdrew ahead of the 16-team event starting Saturday in Sydney. They included fifth-place finisher Andrey Rublev, who contracted the coronavirus at the Abu Dhabi exhibition this month. World number 18 Aslan Karatsev and world number 172 Evgeny Donskoy are also missing.

Evgeny Karlovsky and Roman Safiulin were drafted on short notice.

Rublev’s absence is a major blow to both him and US Open champion Medvedev, who won every singles match he played on his way to lift the trophy.

But Medvedev remains adamant despite Russia being in a tough Group B, which includes 2021 runners-up Italy, led by Matteo Berrettini, France and hosts Australia.

Only the winning country from each of the four groups advances to the semi-finals in the season-open tournament that runs until 9 January.

“Roman is probably going to be the underdog in all matches, and that’s good. He has great potential, great skills in tennis,” said Medvedev, who started his campaign on Sunday against France’s Ugo Humbert.

“The ATP Cup is a great opportunity for guys like this to win a lot of points, a lot of money, a lot of confidence coming to the Australian Open, and just be a better player.

“So I trust Roman, in a team that’s just going to try to do their best and who knows, maybe win the title.”

He added: “I love that kind of pressure. It motivates you to play better. I think it will inspire all four of us to play the best tennis we can.”

A strong Italy boasts not only world number 7 Berrettini but also 10th ranked Jannik Sinner as their second singles player.

Each tie consists of two singles matches and one doubles match.

Berrettini’s clash with Medvedev on Thursday could be crucial and the Italian knows he has finished his job.

“I mean, he’s really solid. He’s moving really well, playing deep, serving well, coming back. When he’s playing well he’s not missing at all ,” he said of the Russian.

“So especially on the hard court he’s probably, along with Novak (Djokovic), the best player we have now.

“Personally last year I struggled to play against him, but I work hard to be ready for this match, so we’ll see.”

The ATP Cup begins on Saturday at two venues in Sydney – the Ken Roswell Arena and the Kudos Bank Arena.

Inaugural champions Serbia, who are missing Djokovic, kicks off Casper Ruud’s Norway, while Chile starts against Spain, who are without Rafael Nadal as he also recovers from the coronavirus.

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In other matches, Argentina will face Georgia and Stefanos Tsitsipas will face Greece and Poland on Saturday.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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