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Russia crush Italy in ATP Cup Final

Having reached the final undefeated in all their singles matches, the Russian juggernaut took just two-hours and 20-minutes to demolish Italy in the ATP Cup final.

It's a really big achievement ... it's a big boost in confidence Daniil Medvedev

In what proved a ruthless display of aggressive tennis, Russia, the only nation fielding two top ten players with Daniil Medvedev (4) and Andrey Rublev (8) simply swept past the Italians featuring Matteo Berrettini (10) and Fabio Fognini (17) dropping a total of 9 games in the two singles rubbers.

As a team it was no surprise that the opposition facing them this week – Japan, Argentina, and then in the semis Germany – all crumbled under the weight of the Russian bear.

In the final on Rod Laver Arena, Rublev destroyed Fognini 6-1 6-2 in just 61-minutes leaving Medvedev to apply the ‘coup the grace’ over Berrettini – 6-4 6-2 in 80-minutes.

Rublev’s blistering form upended the 33-year-old Fognini who held 5-1 record against the Russian ten years his junior, who overwhelmed him.

The flamboyant Fognini’s head went down early as he was dominated by an opponent’s devastating forehand, picking up only seven points in the entire match when receiving.

“I was playing really well all week since the first match and I was just going on court thinking that I needed to fight for every ball,” said Rublev.

“I knew it didn’t matter the score; he always has a chance. He always knows how to come back, so I was trying to keep going no matter the score.”

On paper Medvedev had a tougher task against Berrettini who was also showing some excellent form having won all his matches leading to the final which included a good win against the world number three Dominic Thiem.

Medvedev was ahead in terms of meetings between the two 24-year-olds having beaten Berrettini back in 2018 and he was quick to establish himself in the final pulling ahead early to take a 3-1 lead which he held to take the opening set.

He repeated the pattern in the second and even raised his game to roll over an increasingly frustrated Berrettini.

“He’s playing really good. He’s confident, you can tell. He’s a really tough player to beat,” said Berrettini of Medvedev. “These days, you just have to say bravo to him and think about the next matches.”

Following the win and the cancellation of the doubles rubber, a beaming Russian captain Evgeny Donskoy declared: “It’s unbelievable.”

Adding: “If the level is going to be the same, these guys are going to see each other in the (Australian Open) quarter-finals because I saw the draw.”

The two are certainly going to be a threat at the first grand slam of the season which starts on Monday.

They have a day off and will kick off their respective challenges at the Australian Open on Tuesday with Medvedev a clear front runner for the title having established a 14-match winning streak including the titles at the Paris Masters title and the ATP Tour Finals.

“It’s a really big achievement … it’s a big boost in confidence,” said Medvedev of his run of wins against top-ranked players.

“Even when you lose, you know that you’re capable of playing this level, and it helps you for the next time to stand up.”

Rublev record has been equally impressive, winning five ATP titles in a breakthrough 2020, more than anyone else, as he raced up the rankings.

He ended his season by beating world number three Dominic Thiem at the ATP Finals and has started 2021 with four straight wins at the ATP Cup, dropping just one set, to also make him a contender at the Australian Open.

Russia now join Serbia as ATP Cup champions which, despite being slimmed down to 12 from the original 24 nations at the inaugural event last year because of the pandemic, has again proved a very popular event. Hopefully next year it will revert to a three-city tournament with the finals in Sydney.

Team Russia and Team Italy pose with their trophies following the ATP Cup Final

Andy Cheung/Getty Images



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