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Diego Schwartzman joked that he was not happy about facing Daniil Medvedev at his team's opening ATP Cup press conference

Team Argentina Ready For a Fight Against Russia

Argentine players relish their underdog status and chance to play for their country

Team Argentina comes into its Tuesday night Group D tilt against Russia at the ATP Cup in Melbourne as an underdog. But the fiercely patriotic Argentines are dangerous whenever they suit up for their country, and at a press conference Monday they said they’re united and confident.

“Russia is a very tough, tough team,” said team captain, Jose “Chucho” Acasuso, who reached a career high of No. 20 in the FedEx ATP Rankings in 2006. “They have the two players (Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev) in the Top 10. “But I trust in our team. We have a really good team. We're ready to play, to fight tomorrow.”

Maximo Gonzalez, a 37-year old who has a FedEx ATP Doubles Ranking of No. 43, said the team has been bonding together in Melbourne. “After quarantine, we enjoy the city, (and being) together,” he said. “We have some dinner together. We can enjoy the city, (do) some tourist (activities). I think that is good to be back in the normal life.”

After losing his final match of 2020 against Daniil Medvedev at the Nitto ATP Finals, Schwartzman joked that he was less than thrilled to start the 2021 campaign against his all-too-familiar foe, whom he hasn’t beaten in five career matches. “I'm not very happy to start against Daniil,” he said, laughing. “I finished last year against him. It's going to be tough tomorrow because he's playing his best…For me it's also a good preparation, (a) good first match. I think I have more chances in the first match of the year than maybe when he (had his normal) rhythm.”

Argentina’s No. 1 singles player said that Medvedev is one of the top players on the tour. “Russia has a great team,” he said. “I think for us, it's a good preparation, (a) good start (to) the year. We are going to be there to fight every point.”

Horacio Zeballos, the world’s No. 3 ranked doubles player, said that it’ll be a thrill to play before crowds again. “It's going to be a nice sensation,” he said. “Especially here in Australia, the people, they always are very kind, nice people. Yeah, for sure we going to enjoy every match every time that we jump into the court.”

Schwartzman was asked if he’d feel more pressure this year, after cracking the Top 10 last year. He said that it was a different year with different goals but similarly high expectations that come from within. “I put a lot of pressure on me just myself,” he said. “I'm trying to improve every year.”

Guido Pella, who will play the No. 2 singles, admitted that his matchup with Rublev will be a tough one, but said he’s ready for the challenge. “Personally it's going to be tough even if I were in the same conditions as he is, but I was on lockdown for two weeks,” he said. “I didn't compete in the last five months, so it's going to be tough. He has all the pressure for that match, but I will try to do my best. I am playing for Argentina. That's a big situation for me, for all the rest of the team.”

The 12-country ATP Cup runs 2-6 February at Melbourne Park.