Scouting Report: Medvedev Leads Russia At ATP Cup, Nadal Back In Action
The ATP Tour begins the season with a packed schedule in Australia to kick off 2022. The top stars will compete across three events, with the ATP Cup and two ATP 250 events in Week One.
At the ATP Cup, 16 countries will face off for the title, with the four group winners advancing to the semi-finals. Top 10 stars Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Matteo Berrettini, Casper Ruud and Hubert Hurkacz lead their countries in Sydney.
FOUR THINGS TO WATCH AT THE ATP CUP
1) Defending Champion: Russia will aim to retain its trophy this year at the third edition of the ATP Cup. The 2021 champion went 4-0 last year and will once again be led by World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev.
The 25-year-old, who is joined by Roman Safiullin and Evgeny Karlovskiy, holds an 8-1 singles record at the tournament, with his only defeat coming against Novak Djokovic in 2020. Russia will have to overcome tough competition in Sydney against home country Australia, France and Italy in Group B.
2) Italian Power: Italy reached the final at the ATP Cup in 2021 and the European country is in a strong position to enjoy another deep run this year. Ttwo Top 10 stars — World No. 7 Matteo Berrettini and 20-year-old Jannik Sinner, who cracked the Top 10 in the FedEx ATP Rankings for the first time in November — will provide tough opposition in the singles.
Berrettini won three of his four matches at the event last season, earning victories against Dominic Thiem, Gael Monfils and Roberto Bautista Agut. Sinner and Lorenzo Sonego will make their ATP Cup debuts, while veterans Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini return.
3) Tsitsipas, Zverev & Ruud Lead Their Nations: Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev and Casper Ruud enjoyed strong 2021 seasons, winning 13 tour-level titles between them. Zverev captured the Nitto ATP Finals crown in November and will aim to carry his momentum into the ATP Cup. The 24-year-old leads Germany in Group C and will face Cameron Norrie (Great Britain), Felix Auger-Aliassime (Canada) and Taylor Fritz (United States) in singles action.
Tsitsipas is making his third appearance for Greece at the ATP Cup and will play World No. 9 Hubert Hurkacz (Poland), Diego Schwartzman (Argentina) and Nikoloz Basilashvili (Georgia) in Group D. Ruud won five tour-level titles last year and reached the semi-finals at the Nitto ATP Finals. The 23-year-old went 2-1 at the ATP Cup in 2021 and will lead Norway against Chile, Serbia and Spain in Group A.
4) Decisive Doubles: At the ATP Cup, an experienced doubles team is vital if you want to have a title run in Sydney. Last year, seven of the 15 ties were won in the deciding doubles match.
This year’s tournament will feature some of the leading doubles stars on the ATP Tour. Great Britain will call on Toronto and US Open champion Joe Salisbury and former World No. 1 Jamie Murray, while Germany will look to Kevin Krawietz and Tim Puetz. The United States will utilise the experience of Rajeev Ram, who has won 22 tour-level titles.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH IN MELBOURNE
1) Nadal Is Back: Spaniard Rafael Nadal will return to action for the first time since playing at the Citi Open in August when he competes at the Melbourne Summer Set. The 35-year-old is the top seed at the ATP 250 event and will be aiming to add to his 88 tour-level titles when he takes to court.
Photo Credit: Mitchell Layton/Getty Images
2) Headline Acts: In a stacked field, two-time tour-level titlist Reilly Opelka, World No. 28 Grigor Dimitrov and South Africa’s Lloyd Harris will all battle for the trophy. Opelka reached his first ATP Masters 1000 final in Toronto last year, while Dimitrov enjoyed a run to the last four in Indian Wells.
After a standout season, Harris arrives in Melbourne at a career-high No. 31 in the ATP Rankings. The 24-year-old reached the championship match in Dubai last year and advanced to the semi-finals in Antwerp.
3) Goffin & Anderson Bring Experience: David Goffin and Kevin Anderson have both enjoyed long stints inside the Top 10, with Goffin climbing to No. 7, while Anderson cracked the top five. Current World No. 39 Goffin earned his fifth tour-level title in Montpellier last season, but has not competed since the US Open.
Former Wimbledon finalist Anderson returned to the winners' circle for the first time since 2019 when he triumphed in Newport in July.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH IN ADELAIDE
1) Monfils Leads The Way: Gael Monfils will make his debut at the ATP 250 in Adelaide and will look to clinch his first tour-level title since 2020 when he triumphed in Rotterdam. The 35-year-old, who reached the final in Sofia last year, will return to action for the first time since competing on home soil at the Rolex Paris Masters in November.
2) American Charge: Sebastian Korda rose from outside the Top 100 in the ATP Rankings to a career-high No. 38 in October in 2021. The 21-year-old won his first tour-level title in Parma last season and finished the year strongly by enjoying a run to the championship match at the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals. He will be aiming to continue his momentum in Adelaide.
Countryman Frances Tiafoe also made waves on the ATP Tour last year, with Tiafoe reaching the final in Vienna. The 23-year-old will compete at the ATP 250 event in Adelaide for the first time.
3) Tournament Standouts Return: Russia’s Karen Khachanov reached the semi-finals of the event last year when it was temporarily moved to Melbourne due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 29-year-old will be targeting a deeper run in 2022. Tommy Paul, who was a semi-finalist at the inaugural edition of the event in 2020, earned his maiden tour-level title in Stockholm in November in his final tournament of the season.