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Roman Safiullin, Daniil Medvedev and Gilles Cervara share a joke ahead of ATP Cup in Sydney.

Medvedev Thriving Under Pressure As Russia Aims To Defend ATP Cup Title

Russia plays Australia, France and Italy in Group B

Daniil Medvedev says he is enjoying the good feeling that currently surrounds Russian tennis, as he leads his nation into the 2022 ATP Cup.

“Last year was amazing for Russian tennis in general…and I think that's what can, again, help us a lot this week because everybody is expecting us to do well," Medvedev said. "I mean, usually, you know, I like this kind of pressure. It makes you play better.”

The World No. 2, who holds an impressive 8-1 record in ATP Cup singles, spoke positively at Russia’s pre-tournament press conference, while acknowledging the challenge that lies ahead in Sydney.

“It's never easy to start the season," Medvedev added. "Out of three matches only one team comes out of the group, so you need to win as many matches as possible. Ask yourself as few questions as possible, just try to win matches.”

Team Russia received a late boost with the appointment of Gilles Cervara as team captain, who described it as “a great honour and experience for me to be the captain of the team.” They start its Group B campaign against Cervara’s native France on Sunday, before ties against home favourites Australia and Matteo Berrettini-led Italy.

On the playing roster, the late withdrawals of Andrey Rublev, Aslan Karatsev and Evgeny Donskoy have dealt a blow to Russia’s title defence, but this has been countered with the call up of Roman Safiullin (World No. 167) and Evgeny Karlovskiy (World No. 269).

Safiullin in particular has fond memories of playing Down Under, winning the Australian Open Junior Crown in 2015: “For myself I'm not expecting anything. I just will do the best I can do here and at Australian Open quallies.”

Safiullin is no stranger to Medvedev either, who spoke of his past meetings with his new teammate: “He was super tough to beat in juniors. I don't think we’ve ever played as professionals, but when I knew that Roman was in my draw in juniors, I was shaking. We played a lot of finals, semi-finals, a lot of matches, some were like three-hour, three-set matches. A lot of fun.”

The team will be hoping this familiarity pays off on the doubles court, with lead player Medvedev ready to step into a deciding rubber, should he be called upon. “I practiced two times with Roman these last few days," Medvedev said. "We actually played quite well, trying to talk our way through. Of course, it's never easy. I think what is good that we are going to have three opportunities.

“I feel a lot of confidence coming into this year, and I am going to play really strong guys already in the group stage. I just want to try to win my match and get the point for the team.”