The ATP Cup produced some interesting results on its first day during the daytime session which also saw the inaugural event unveil some thought-provoking innovations, like ‘VAR’, to question foot-faults and double bounces.
What I need to do is really just put this match behind me as best as I can, because at times it wasn’t pretty out there, John Isner
The first round of group matches played in three separate Aussie cities, saw Canada defeat Greece 3-0 in Brisbane, Norway upset the USA 2-1 in Perth and Belgium outlast Moldova 3-0 in Sydney.
Canada was the first nation to secure a win with 19-year-old Felix Auger-Aliassime making history with his 6-1 6-3 win over Michail Pervolarakis, the world number 487.
He was followed by the 15th-ranked Denis Shapovalov who upset the ATP Finals champion, the world No.6 Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-6(8) 7-6(4) in just over two hours to put Canada in an unassailable 2-0 lead.
“It’s definitely a huge win for me. Obviously, he had an unbelievable end to the season and he’s definitely one of the top players in the world right now,” Shapovalov said. “He’s got a great game. So to beat a guy like this first match of the year, it’s really special for me. It means a lot.”
The two Canadians then paired up to make a clean sweep of the tie by beating Pervolarakis and Petros Tsitsipas, Stefanos’ brother, in the doubles 6-2 6-3.
Moving south to Sydney, Belgium played out a marathon tie as they eventually secured a well-earned win over a tenacious Moldovan team who had to overcome the awkward moment of listening to the wrong national anthem being played for them at the start of the match. The embarrassed officials immediately apologised for the error.
“At the start of the Moldova vs Belgium match we mistakenly played the wrong national anthem for Moldova. We are sincerely sorry and have apologised personally to TeamMoldova,” a statement read on ATP Cup’s Twitter account.
Steve Darcis beat Moldova’s world number 818 Alexander Cozbinov 6-4 7-6(4) 7-5 before David Goffin secured an unassailable 2-0 lead for Belgium with a 6-4 6-1 victory over Radu Albot in less than 90 minutes. And he was the first player to use ‘VAR’ when he challenged a foot fault but was unsuccessful but felt it was a good innovation.
“It’s quite cool,” Goffin said. “It’s something more that we have for the match, and it’s good to use the technology.”
In the doubles the Belgians had to not only recover from losing the first set, but defend against the determined Moldovan duo of Radu Albot and Cozbinov but eventually Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen prevailed 6-7(5) 76(4) 11-9.
However the biggest upset was seen in Perth when the unheralded Norwegian doubles pairing clinched their tie against the USA after the two teams had split the singles.
Taylor Fritz beat Viktor Durasovic 6-2 6-2 to give the Americans the early lead and Isner was twice one point from victory in the second-set tiebreaker. But Casper Ruud converted his fifth set point to get level and beat Isner 6-7(3) 7-6(10), 7-5 before combining with Durasovic to beat Rajeev Ram and Austin Krajicek 4-6 6-3 10-5.
“What I need to do is really just put this match behind me as best as I can, because at times it wasn’t pretty out there,” Isner said. “So hopefully I can fix some things and try to play a little bit better on Sunday.”
There are three more ties to complete during the evening sessions, including GB versus Bulgaria, Australia against Germany and Russian meeting Italy.