Argentina got their ATP Cup campaign off to a flyer with a convincing 3-0 win over Georgia on the first day of the tournament at Qudos Bank Arena.
Team Argentina barely raised a sweat as they proved far too strong for their European opponents, dominating from the first point to the very last. There was a clear gulf in class between the two nations, particularly in the opening match as Federico Delbonis easily accounted for Aleksandre Metreveli.
Delbonis, ranked No.44 in the world, was too much for the 571st ranked Georgian to handle and eased to a 6-1, 6-2 victory in an hour and five minutes.
Metreveli shot himself in the foot by making 29 unforced errors for the match in what turned out to be a theme for the Georgians throughout their opening tie.
Delbonis was solid in his first hitout for the year and is thrilled to be back playing for his country.
“I think it’s a really nice start to the year, I’m very happy with the way that I played,” Delbonis said post-match.
“It means a lot (to play for Argentina). I’ve played many times in teams and I always enjoy this period.
“When you have the opportunity to play for your country I think it’s a special moment and I think it is something that you look forward to.”
The No. 1 singles tie promised to be a more even contest with World No. 13 Diego Schwartzman taking on No. 22 Nikoloz Basilashvili, but it was anything but.
The match was a walk in the park for Schwartzman who secured the tie for Argentina with a 6-1, 6-2 victory in an hour and two minutes.
The Argentinian only needed to hit the ball in play in order to win the point as Basilashvili hit a whopping 36 unforced errors for the match. The Georgian cut a frustrated figure as he constantly missed the mark from the baseline and failed to make any inroads against his opponent.
“It was a good start for me, I know him because we are the same age but we’ve never played, this is the first time so I’m happy to beat him,” Schwartzman said on court after the match.
“I think my start and Federico’s start right now for our team was perfect.”
Schwartzman’s service game allowed him to dictate play against the heavy-hitting Basilashvili, winning 78% of points on his first serve whilst only facing two breakpoints. He was also solid on return, making 86% of his returns to frustrate the Georgian.
“The good thing is I’m not hitting harder than my opponents regularly but that’s why I think I came to the court thinking to have a good service game,” Schwartzman said.
“It was very important to make many first serves and to make good decisions after the serve and I think (my) return was working very good.”
In the final match of the tie, the Argentinian duo of Maximo Gonzalez and Andreas Molteni defeated Saba Purtseladze and Zura Tkemaladze 6-1, 6-2 to make it three from three for Argentina.
In the day session’s other tie, Spain got their campaign off to a good start with a 3-0 win over Chile on Ken Rosewall Arena.
Much like the Argentinians, Spain had secured the tie by winning both of their singles matches thanks to Pablo Carreno Busta and Roberto Bautista Agut. This tie was harder fought than the one on Qudos Bank Arena, but the depth in talent that Spain has in their arsenal proved too strong for a spirited Chile.
The opening tie saw World No. 20 Carreno Busta take on the 139th ranked Alejandro Tabilo, with the former fighting hard to secure a 6-4, 7-6(4) victory in an hour and 52 minutes.
Tabilo raced out of the blocks in both sets, securing 3-0 leads in each before being tracked down by the Spaniard on both occasions. The Chilean will be especially disappointed with the second set after having a set point at 5-2 on the Carreno Busta serve.
The Spaniard worked his way into the contest after a slow start in each set, hitting 29 winners and forcing his opponent into 20 errors for the match.
“It was very difficult at the beginning of the match because he was playing unbelievable,” Carreno Busta said post-match.
“I’m happy because I fought the whole time and was improving my level…at the end of the match, I think I played much better than at the beginning.”
Judging from his performance, the left-handed Tabilo is definitely a player worth keeping an eye on. He played just six Tour-level matches in 2021 with a 2-4 record but won a Challenger title and was runner-up in a further two tournaments. The Chilean looks ready to make the leap in 2022.
The following contest had World No. 19 Bautista Agut matched up against No. 17 Cristian Garin in what promised to be a tight affair. Well, promises aren’t always kept as this contest turned out to be a one-sided affair.
Bautista Agut loves playing for his country, especially at the ATP Cup where he now has an 8-2 record to be one of the tournaments most successful players.
He looked unstoppable as he raced to a 6-0, 6-3 win to secure the tie for Spain. Garin could only watch on as he was gifted a New Year’s bagel by Bautista Agut who could do no wrong.
Bautista Agut was everywhere, winning 79% of points on his first serve while making 81% of his returns to barely give Garin a moment to process what was happening. The Spaniard finished with 20 winners for the match while Garin hit 29 unforced errors to aid Bautista Agut’s cause.
“Today was a good start for me,” Bautista Agut said on court after the match.
“I played very solid and I felt I had a good rhythm with good speed on the ball and I’m really happy to get the win.
“I like the conditions and this court, Sydney is a great city so it’s very good to start the year playing ATP Cup.”
The final match of the tie saw Spain make it a clean sweep after Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and Pedro Martinez overcame Tomas Barrios Vera and Tabilo in an hour and 50 minutes.