Spain beat Covid-19-stricken Poland to advance to ATP Cup final
An imperturbable Roberto Bautista Agut upset world number nine Hubert Hurkacz to rule out a Poland affected by Covid and lead Spain in the ATP Cup final on Friday against the defending champions Russia or Canada. Spain had a big advantage even before the semi-final in Sydney even started, with Poland taking a heavy blow when Kamil Majchrzak announced he had tested positive for Covid-19 and was forced to seven days off. isolation. So far, Majchrzak has won all three singles events and his replacement, doubles specialist Jan Zielinski, has been a poor replacement.
He crashed 6-2, 6-1 against world number 20 Pablo Carreno Busta in just 53 minutes to give Spain a 1-0 advantage ahead of Bautista Agut, ranked a place above his teammate, beat Hurkacz 7-6 (8/6), 2-6, 7-6 (7/5) in a high-quality thriller.
“It’s a game I will always remember. I think we could both win today. He also deserved a lot of good things. But it’s our game, it’s tennis,” said Bautista Agut.
“Today was the win for me. I think I deserved it too. I did a lot of good things on the pitch. I played very aggressive at the end of the game.”
The imposing Hurkacz was desperate to keep his country’s hopes alive and played incredible tennis in the final set, saving five match points with a daring shot.
But Bautista Agut was relentless and ultimately ended the game with a cross forehand.
He crossed the line despite Hurkacz sending 24 aces – some of them rockets reaching 225 km / h (139 mph) – at his lone hover. But the Spaniard made fewer unforced errors and won more points than the Pole on his return from serve.
This is the second time Spain has been the decider in the team tournament, losing to Novak Djokovic’s Serbia in the inaugural event in 2020 when Rafael Nadal and Bautista Agut took the lead roles.
They are without Nadal this year, who is in Melbourne to warm up for the Australian Open, but Bautista Agut has effortlessly become Spain’s number one while Carreno Busta has proven to be an impressive number two.
Both players have been impeccable, winning all four of their singles matches this season.
Zielinski had never played an ATP level singles match before and this was seen against Carreno Busta who didn’t face a breaking point, hitting six aces and 22 winners on the way to victory.
“It’s very important at the start of the year to always find the rhythm, for the confidence,” said Carreno Busta, who has yet to give up a set.
“I’m happy with this tournament, I’m playing really well. I feel very comfortable here in Australia, in Sydney on this pitch. I would like to continue like this.”
Ahead of the game, Majchrzak revealed his positive Covid result, but said the rest of the Polish squad were allowed to continue.
“I am experiencing minor symptoms and look forward to being back on the pitch as soon as Australia’s security protocol allows,” he said. This is the first positive case reported during the tournament.
Russia led by Daniil Medvedev will face a team from Canada led by Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov on Saturday.
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