Confident Russia Ready For Argentina; Safin & Gaudio To Renew Rivalry
Winners of Groups D and E to meet in Sydney
After flying in from Perth following their successful campaign in Group D, Russia will look to continue its strong start to the ATP Cup in the Final Eight against Argentina with a spot in the semi-finals on the line.
Russia, led by team captain Marat Safin, has lost just one of its nine matches in the tournament so far and Safin expressed confidence ahead of their tie against Argentina, who defeated Croatia 3-0 to top Group E on Wednesday night.
“I'm very confident and I believe in my team,” said Safin. “That's for sure… They know what they are doing on the court.”
“I think it was important for the guys to win as many matches as they could… I think the guys are ready. They are pumped enough to do well in the final stage,” said Safin.
When Khachanov was asked on Tuesday about his preferred winner of Group E, the 2018 Rolex Paris Masters champion expressed no preference on which country Russia would meet in Sydney.
“It's tough to choose (smiling). I think we take the winner. That's it. So no preferences,” said Khachanov.
Khachanov will meet Guido Pella for the second time, after losing their only previous ATP Head2Head clash at last year’s Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell. Argentina’s No. 2 singles star has impressed throughout the group stages, beating Marin Cilic and Kamil Majchrzak to earn two points for his country. The World No. 25’s only loss came in three sets to Dennis Novak.
"Tonight, my game was very, very good," said Pella, following his win over Cilic. "Because of that, I'm now feeling much [more] confident to keep playing like this and even better [in] the next match."
“Whenever we are here or in the hotel room, I put the TV on and watch the tennis so I know the results,” said Medvedev.
Schwartzman will be aiming to defeat Medvedev for the first time in the No. 1 singles clash. The 27-year-old fell to straight-sets defeats against the 2019 Nitto ATP Finals qualifier in Tokyo two years ago and at The Queen’s Club last year.
“Everyone who is in the quarter-finals is ready… I need to rest because Medvedev is putting every ball [in the] court,” said Schwartzman.
With the unique format of the ATP Cup, the tie could be decided by a winner-takes-all doubles contest. Argentina rose to the occasion in that scenario on Day 2 against Poland and will enter the doubles contest against Khachanov and Medvedev with experience on their side.
Another interesting dynamic will be the rivalry between team captains. Safin and Argentina captain Gaudio contested six ATP Head2Head encounters from 1999-2006, with Safin claiming four victories.
Gaudio is well aware of the threat Safin’s men possess, but the performances of his men against Croatia have proven they are capable of upsetting the odds.
“Everybody knows the level of tennis that [Khachanov and Medvedev] have been playing for the past two years. The last year of Medvedev was unbelievable,” said Gaudio.
“Tomorrow is going to be tough. But the way that [we were] playing today, I think… we have pretty good chances.”