SERBIA AND POLAND CLAIM WINS ON NIGHT ONE OF THE ATP CUP



Serbia and Poland have claimed respective victories on the opening night of the ATP Cup in Sydney.


But it was Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas who stole all the headlines on the opening night, withdrawing from his singles rubber against Hubert Hurkacz, seen in the Greek camp with ice wrapped around his elbow.


At the Qudos Bank Arena, Poland needed just the two singles rubbers to claim victory, with Kamil Majchrzak and Hubert Hurkacz picking up valuable wins to secure the tie.


In the opening match of the tie, World No. 117 Majchrzak took down World No. 399 Michail Pervolarakis 6-1, 6-4 in 79 minutes, winning 79% of points on his first serve in a dominant display, handing the Pole's a 1-0 lead.


"It's my first match of the year in these great conditions and it's an honour to represent my country," Majchrzak said in his on-court post match interview.


"When I can fight for my country, it gives me different emotions and feelings. It's great to deliver this first point for Poland today. I found my rhythm from the beginning of the match. I was very consistent and I am very happy with my performance," Majchrzak said.


The most highly anticipated match of the night was up next - a battle between two top 10 ranked superstars - World No. 4 Stefanos Tsitsipas and World No. 9 Hubert Hurkacz.


But when Stefanos Tsitsipas emerged from the tunnel under Qudos Bank Arena with ice wrapped around his elbow, it became apparent he would not grace the court. Instead, the fate of the Greek team fell into the hands of World No. 1076 Aristotelis Thanos.


The feisty Greek youngster showed glimpses of his potential, with big serves and pace groundstrokes, but unsurprisingly he was no match for Hurkacz, who eased his way to a 6-1, 6-2 victory, sealing the tie for Poland.


"I was expecting to play Stefanos and I was preparing tactics with my coach, so it was difficult when I found out," Hurkacz said in his on-court post match interview.


"I'd never played him (Thanos) before, or seen him play. He had a big serve and fortunately I was returning quite well and put pressure on him.


It's great to be back in Sydney," Hurkacz said.


Over on Ken Rosewall Arena, a tight battle between Serbia and Norway was on the horizon.


Without Novak Djokovic, Serbia would require someone else to take charge. Enter Filip Krajinovic.


The World No. 42 opened the tie with a 6-2, 7-5 win over World No. 345 Viktor Durasovic, putting Serbia in front.


“I was a little bit nervous at the end of the second set,” Krajinovic said in his on-court post match interview.


“I missed some shots, which is normal as it is my first match this year and there are a lot of expectations.”


“It is not easy to play for Serbia without Djokovic. The expectations are very big. Whatever you do is not enough because he is No. 1 and the greatest of all time. I am sure he is watching us now and cheering for us," Krajinovic said.


In the next match, World No. 8 Casper Ruud would keep Norway alive, navigating his way past the tricky World No. 33 Dusan Lajovic.


Ruud converted on 4/7 break point opportunities and won 79% of points on his first serve, making life very difficult for Lajovic.


But if Norway were to claim the tie, Ruud would need to recover quickly, as he was back in action in the deciding doubles rubber. Unfortunately, he couldn't carry his nation all the way to victory, despite an impressive effort.


It was the Djokovic-less Serbia's night, with the combination of Krajinovic and Nikola Cacic proving too strong for Norwegian duo Ruud and Durasovic 7-6(3), 6-3.


“Thank you for watching and thank you for Nikola for playing with me and we are very happy to win today. It is a very good start. We are happy we won and we came here to go all the way if we can and we are going to give our best," Kraijnovic said in his on-court post match interview.


“We have known each other for a long time, since we were kids and it was a lot of fun to play together today. I want to thank Filip for playing with me and everyone who stayed to support us," Cacic said following the match.


In ATP Cup action on Sunday, Russia face France in the day session on Ken Rosewall Arena. Australia open their campaign against Italy in the night session.


On Qudos Bank Arena, Canada face the USA in the day session, with Germany up against Great Britain in the night session.