ATP Cup Day 3 Notes
The match of the day for me was always going to be Denis Shapovalov Vs Alex de Minaur, and these two lived up to my expectations. Both players have started 2020 on top of their games and produced some exceptional rallies. As a fan of both players, I did not mind who won, and de Minaur’s comeback provided great entertainment and the atmosphere of the home crowd and the Australian team cheering on de Minaur seeps through the TV into whatever room you watch tennis in. How fair it is, as is the issue with the Davis Cup, that this event favors one team re home court advantage, is up for debate. Still, credit to de Minaur for once again drawing on the crowd and the court side support as he dug himself out of another set down, 2-4 down hole and emerged the winner, never looking back in the third.
The most captivating aspect of this ATP Cup for me, for all the wrong reasons, is Sascha Zverev and the trials of the German team supporting him. Sascha reduced his father to tears while the rest of the team dance on eggshells.
Stefanos Tsitsipas, for the fifth time in a row, had no time for Zverev’s tormented self. The double faults and mood fluctuations coming from the German just complimented the Greek’s box of tricks.
Another compelling aspect of the ATP Cup is the prominence it has given players who might otherwise have had to do a lot more work to play on such courts as the Brisbane, Perth and Sydney ones. We saw the world No. 423, Dimitar Kuzmanov, play the world No. 818 Alexander Cozbinov, the former winning 6-1, 7-5, on Sydney’s Ken Rosewall arena.
Reilly Opelka has a strong case in his criticism of the ATP Cup discriminating against high ranked players from countries with deep tennis fields. Kuzmanov and Cozbinov are from Bulgaria and Moldova respectively and are those countries No.2 players. Opelka, meanwhile, is the USA’s No.3, ranked 36. Still, as a fan there is a something refreshing and encouraging about seeing two players so low ranked play in this radical new event on such a prominent stage. The format may be a negative for Opelka, but it is very fortunate for players such as Kuzmanov and Cozbinov. In a sport as ruthless as tennis, with so few spots at the top for the tens of thousands of hopefuls, it’s a positive if now and then a door or two are opened for those plying their trade many rungs down the ladder.
Other noteworthy points of the day:
- John Millman beating Felix Auger-Aliasimme. I was looking forward to seeing Nick Kyrgios in this one and the event probably lost quite a bit of publicity, good or bad, but the Australians got the upset and the win.
- Dan Evans beating David Goffin. Evans is a tricky player and played a very astute match here, using his slice to great effect.
- Casper Rudd defeating Fabio Fognini 6-2, 6-2. Fognini is prone to upsets at the best of times. Good on Rudd for maximising his opportunity here.
Grade: B. The event is still doing well in my eyes despite all its flaws. de Minar and Shapovalov was entertaining and inspiring and there was the car crash element of Zverev and the randomness of Kuzmanov Vs Cozbinov plus a few upsets.
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