ATP Cup: Schwartzman & Pella Ready To Lead Argentina

Argentines prepare to begin their season in Sydney

Diego Schwartzman and Guido Pella see each other every day in the off-season. But they are much more than just training partners making their joint preparations for 2020. The top two Argentine players in the ATP Rankings enjoy a friendship that goes back to the early days of their tennis dreams.

They will now kick off their respective seasons by leading Argentina in the inaugural ATP Cup. Schwartzman and Pella seek to guide Argentina past Austria, Croatia and Poland in Group E action in Sydney. Juan Ignacio Londero, Maximo Gonzalez and Andres Molteni will complete the team.

“There are some very tough opponents in our group like Dominic Thiem, who I will have to play, and Borna Coric. I’m going to have to be ready to play and compete against them right at the start of the year,” Schwartzman said.

Schwartzman prevailed this August in Los Cabos. (d. Fritz) and followed up with his first US Open quarter-final showing. The 27-year-old also finished runner up in Vienna (l. to Thiem) and Buenos Aires (l. to Cecchinato), in addition to reaching his first ATP Masters 1000 semi-final in Rome.

“[My main focus is] to take it day by day. In anything you’re doing, the most important thing is for it not to be tedious. It’s a daily mental challenge to be able to continue competing as well as possible,” Schwartzman said. “Now we have to adapt. It’s partly in teams, there are [ATP Rankings] points available and there’s a lot of prize money.

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“Knowing that there are some very big points on offer and that you are representing Argentina is a bonus... Not just playing for yourself. It’s a competition that’s going to be very good. I have no doubt."

Schwartzman selected former World No. 5 and 2004 Roland Garros champion Gaston Gaudio to be the team captain for Argentina. However, he said it was a decision that the entire team approved of.

“We chose him between all of us,” Schwartzman explained. “We thought he was the most logical choice because it’s difficult if I choose my coach for him to also be the captain of the other players. Gaston is a good choice for everyone.”

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Pella looks to continue his momentum after completing a career-best season in 2019 that saw him finish inside the Top 25. He won his maiden ATP Tour crown in Sao Paulo (d. Garin), finished runner-up in Cordoba (l. to Londero) and advanced to his first Grand Slam quarter-final at Wimbledon. He’s eager to compete alongside Schwartzman and believes they can make an impact in Sydney.

“Competing in a team at the start of the year is going to be a beautiful experience and I’m happy to be able to play for Argentina with my teammates,” Pella said. “Everyone knows Diego. He has one of the best backhands on tour and he is extremely solid. There are not many like him on Tour and he has a consistency that few can match. That’s why he’s been in the Top 30 for three years.”

Pella spoke of his own plans for 2020 and said he has one clear goal: to stay on the same path.

“I want to keep playing my best tennis, improve my ranking and validate what I did in 2019,” he explained. “To keep performing at good tournaments and beating good opponents would make me happy.”