Both Germany and Canada will be out to boost their chances of qualifying for the ATP Cup quarter-finals when they clash in Group F action in Brisbane on Tuesday.
Germany vs Canada ATP Cup tennis is live from Brisbane at 10.00am local time on Tuesday (12.00am GMT)
Australia have already topped Group F and secured their spot in the elite eight in Sydney, but the top two runners-up from the six groups will also qualify for the knockout stages, leaving this showdown between Germany and Canada with all to play for.
Germany kept their quarter-final chances alive with a thrilling doubles win over Greece on Sunday night, saving six match points, while Canada were pegged back after suffering a 0-3 whitewash defeat to the Aussies.
Canada ?? def. Greece ?? 3-0
Auger-Aliassime def. Pervolarakis 6-1 6-3
Shapovalov def. Tsitsipas 7-6(6) 7-6(4)
Auger-Aliassime/Shapovalov def. Pervolarakis/P. Tsitsipas 6-2 6-3
Australia ?? def. Germany ?? 3-0
Kyrgios def. Struff 6-4 7-6(4)
De Minaur def. Zverev 4-6 7-6(3) 6-2
Peers/Guccione def. Krawietz/Mies 6-3 6-4
Germany ?? def. Greece ?? 2-1
Struff def. Pervolarakis 6-4 6-1
Tsitsipas def. Zverev 6-1 6-4
Krawietz/Mies def. Pervolarakis/S. Tsitsipas 3-6 6-3 17-15
Australia ?? def. Canada ?? 3-0
Millman def. Auger-Aliassime 6-4 6-2
De Minaur def. Shapovalov 6-7(6) 6-4 6-2
Peers/Guccione def. Auger-Aliassime/Shamasdin 3-6 7-6(3) 10-8
GERMANY ??: 1. Alexander Zverev 2. Jan-Lennard Struff 3. Mats Moraing 4. Kevin Krawietz 5. Andreas Mies. Captain: Boris Becker.
CANADA ??: 1. Denis Shapovalov 2. Felix Auger-Aliassime 3. Steven Diez 4. Adil Shamasdin 5. Peter Polansky. Captain: Adriano Fuorivia.
Rubber 1: Jan-Lennard Struff (??) vs Felix Auger-Aliassime (??), live from Brisbane at 10.00am local time (12.00am GMT)
Struff and Auger-Aliassime square off for the first time in the opening rubber of the tie, with both players winning one and losing one in their respective ATP Cup campaigns so far.
Auger-Aliassime started with an expected straight sets win over the lowly-ranked Pervolarakis of Greece in his first match, but he found the going much tougher against John Millman of Australia on Sunday, winning just six games in a 4-6 2-6 defeat.
The 19-year-old was up a break in the opening set and was seemingly dictating proceedings, but Millman began to find his range from the baseline and forced Auger-Aliassime to keep hitting that extra ball – something the Canadian wasn’t able to sustain as he committed a whopping 42 unforced errors and ultimately lost 11 of the last 14 games.
Auger-Aliassime was one of the big stories of the 2019 season, vaulting from outside the top 100 and into the top 20, achieving a career-high ranking 13 times throughout the year before settling at No. 21. The 19-year-old became the youngest top 25 player since Lleyton Hewitt in 1999 as he reached ATP finals in Rio de Janeiro, Lyon and Stuttgart, while he also reached the Miami Masters semi-finals, but the challenge for the youngster in 2020 is to avoid second-year syndrome and back up everything he achieved last season. How he performs against Struff will give us a solid early indication of where he’s at to begin 2020.
Struff started his ATP Cup campaign with a straight sets loss to Nick Kyrgios, but he bounced back from a shaky opening against Pervolarakis on Sunday, recovering from a break down to ultimately register a comfortable straight sets triumph.
“He was playing very aggressive and I didn’t find him keen in the first game and I told myself that 3-2 down… I said to myself, ‘I need to find a way for to go out there and to battle back now.’ And I did find a way and it was very important for me to get myself up again,” Struff said.
One of the best active players to never have reached an ATP final, Struff put together a 35-29 win-loss record in 2019 – a career-best season in which he beat five top 10 players, made semi-finals in Auckland and Stuttgart, quarter-finals in Barcelona and Basel and advanced to the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the first time at Roland Garros after outlasting Borna Coric 11-9 in the fifth. The German will be hoping to make that next step and advance to a final this season.
It’s shaping as a very even contest. Auger-Aliassime obviously has way more upside, but it can be extremely difficult for a young player to swiftly take his career to the next level after a breakout season, while Struff is experienced and has the weapons and firepower to cause a lot of damage. I’ll back Auger-Aliassime to recover from his disappointing defeat to Millman, but this really could go either way.
Rubber 2: Alexander Zverev (??) vs Denis Shapovalov (??), live from Brisbane around 11.30am local time (1.30am GMT)
There’s no other way to say it: Alexander Zverev has the yips. It’s hard to watch, but the German’s serve has become a serious problem, and the situation doesn’t look like resolving itself any time soon.
A complete technical overhaul might need to happen, because Zverev has served 24 double faults across his first two defeats to Alex de Minaur and Stefanos Tsitsipas. It’s gotten so bad that sometimes Zverev is just rolling in his first serves in order to avoid hitting a second serve. The World No. 7 is aware of the problem – as anyone who watched the match vs Tsitsipas on Sunday can attest to – but whether Zverev can find a swift fix to his serving woes remains to be seen.
“My serving isn’t back yet. Simple as that. I’m doing double faults. I’m serving 120 kilometers an hour, that’s not really going to cut it,” Zverev said.
The alarming aspect in all of this is that Zverev was struggling on serve for large chunks of last year, but after a full pre-season, he still hasn’t been able to address it. Changing a service routine is not something you want to be doing after the season gets going, but Zverev might be forced into doing just that if the problem continues.
There’s no such worries on Shapovalov’s side of the net – he registered an impressive top 10 scalp over Tsitsipas in his opening match and had de Minaur right where he wanted him on Sunday, leading by a set and a break, but the Aussie never knows when he’s beat and Shapvoalov took his foot off the pedal ever so slightly and couldn’t regain momentum after that as he succumbed in three.
Nevertheless, 2020 is shaping up to be a big year for Shapovalov, who after linking up with Mikhail Youzhny just before the U.S. Open last season, has been in very good form, winning his maiden ATP title in Stockholm and reaching the Paris Masters final to end 2019 inside the top 15.
And with the way Zverev’s playing right now, Shapovalov has got to be considered the strong favourite to prevail on Monday. Zverev leads their head-to-head- 3-1, but Shapovalov won their last meeting at the end of 2019 in Paris and is playing far better at the moment – it’s the Canadian’s match to lose.
Rubber 3: Doubles, live from Brisbane around 2.00pm local time (4.00am GMT)
Teams to be confirmed
The Germans are sure to select reigning Roland Garros champions Andreas Mies and Kevin Krawietz after they saved six match points in a thrilling victory over Greece on Sunday, prevailing 17-15 in the match tiebreak.
Mies and Krawietz will be strong favourites, but Shapovalov and Auger-Aliassime are best friends and know each other’s games inside out – and they did win against Greece in much easier circumstances earlier in the week.