Russia vs Norway ATP Cup Preview and Tips

andrew hendrie:

Russia will top Group D and qualify for the ATP Cup quarter-finals in Sydney if they beat Norway by any scoreline in their showdown in Perth on Tuesday.

Russia vs Norway ATP Cup tennis is live from Perth at 10.00am local time on Tuesday (2.00am GMT).

Daniil Medvedev and Karen Khachanov are unbeaten across their first two ATP Cup ties and will be out to make it three wins from three and secure Russia’s spot in the quarter-finals when they take on a Norway side, spearheaded by an in-form Casper Ruud, on Tuesday in Perth.

Group D

Previous results

Day 1

Russia ?? def. Italy ?? 3-0

Khachanov def. Travaglia 7-5 6-3
Medvedev def. Fognini 1-6 6-1 6-3
Khachanov/Medvedev def. Lorenzi/Bolelli 6-4 6-3

Norway ?? def. USA ?? 2-1

Fritz def. Durasovic 6-2 6-2
Ruud def. Isner 6-7(3) 7-6(10) 7-5
Ruud/Durasovic def. Ram/Krajicek 4-6 6-3 10-5

Day 3

Russia ?? def. USA ?? 2-1

Khachanov def. Fritz 3-6 7-5 6-1
Medvedev def. Isner 6-3 6-1
Krajicek/Ram def. Khachanov/Medvedev 6-3 6-4

Italy ?? def. Norway ?? 2-1

Travaglia def. Durasovic 6-1 6-1
Ruud def. Fognini 6-2 6-2
Bolelli/Fognini def. Ruud/Durasovic 6-3 7-6(3)

Teams

RUSSIA ??: 1. Daniil Medvedev 2. Karen Khachanov 3. Teymuraz Gabashvili 4. Ivan Nedelko 5. Konstantin Kravchuk. Captain: Marat Safin.

NORWAY ??: 1. Casper Ruud 2. Viktor Durasovic 3. Lukas Hellum Lilleengen 4. Herman Hoeyeraal 5. Leyton Rivera. Captain: Christian Ruud.

Rubber 1: Karen Khachanov (??) vs Viktor Durasovic (??), live from Perth at 10.00am local time (2.00am GMT)

After a tough opening win over Stefano Travaglia, Khachanov was forced to battle hard to earn his second victory of the ATP Cup on Sunday, coming from a set down to outlast Taylor Fritz in three.

There was simply nothing Khachanov could do but weather the Fritz storm for a set-and-a-half as the American barely missed from the baseline, but the Russian was able to break back for 3-3 in the second, and after breaking again for the set at 6-5, he ran away with the match in the decider for a 3-6 7-5 6-1 triumph.

“He started like on the 10th speed,” said Khachanov. “In the car you have only six, but he started with 10. And he was hitting everything like full power and he didn’t give me any rhythm… I think at the end of the first set I already had him, I had a break point. If I would have broken, maybe I would have even turned it around earlier.

Khachanov is looking to get back to his best form in 2020 after a disappointing 2019 say him fail to reach a final and slip from No. 8 to No. 17 in the rankings.

The 23-year-old started the season with a few niggling injuries and never truly got going, with Khachanov’s best results including semi-finals in Montreal and Beijing, along with quarter-finals at the French Open and Indian Wells. Can he make it three wins from three to start 2020 in Perth?

He certainly should, even playing below his best. Viktor Durasovic, the World No. 329, has only won a total of six games across his first two matches against Fritz and Travaglia and hasn’t really looked like troubling at any stage.

Of course, it’s not Durasovic’s fault that he’s losing one-sided matches to top 100 players – that’s only natural for someone of his ranking, but given those lopsided scoreline against players ranked lower than Khachanov, it’s tough to see how he’s going to work his way into this clash against the Russian.

Rubber 2: Daniil Medvedev (??) vs Casper Ruud (??), live from Perth around 11.30am local time (3.30am GMT)

The marquee match of the tie as World No. 5 Medvedev comes up against the rising Ruud, who has already scored two top 20 scalps this week in Perth.

Medvedev started his campaign slowly as he dropped the opening set 1-6 to Fognini, but he bounce back to win that match in three before showcasing some of his best tennis against John Isner on Sunday, firing 24 winners to just two unforced errors in a clinical 6-3 6-1 victory in just 60 minutes.

Daniil Medvedev (PA Images)

Isner blasted 33 aces in his opening match, but he was limited to just five against Medvedev, winning only 14 of 27 points behind his normally lethal delivery.

“I think I played great,” said Medvedev. “To beat John with such score is a really great achievement. I knew before the match I just had to try return as much as possible. It worked out well. On my serve, I had only one tight game, missed some first serves. If not, I think the match was under my control. So I’m really happy for the team that we got the important win.

“I was really expecting some maybe three tie-breaks or something like that. I played [Reilly] Opelka last year in three tie-breaks. I played [Milos] Raonic with tie-breaks. I’m really happy that I managed to kind of read his serve, returned really well and win without a tie-break.”

Medvedev will be out to maintain and even improve his incredible 2019 season, where he won four titles – including Masters 1000 crowns in Cincinnati and Shanghai – and reached an astonishing six finals in a row from July to October, including his maiden Grand Slam title match at the U.S. Open, where he pushed Rafael Nadal all the way in a five-set epic.

By the looks of his performance against Isner, Medvedev is on his way to doing just that. Can he keep the ball rolling against a confident youngster on Tuesday?

Casper Ruud (PA Images)

Ruud, currently ranked No. 53 in the world, saved two match points to beat Isner 7-5 in the third in his first ATP Cup match, before earning a straightforward 6-2 6-2 triumph over No. 12 Fognini on Sunday.

“I’m very, very happy and excited about beating another Top 20 player, and the way I did it also,” said Ruud. “I played a very good match. The score was more comfortable than against Isner… It’s a great start of the year, and I’m looking forward for more and hopefully I can beat even higher-ranked players throughout the rest of the season.”

After making his first ATP final on the clay of Houston last season, Ruud also made the third round of Roland Garros and qualified for the Next Gen ATP Finals, finishing 2019 on the cusp of the top 50.

I think Ruud is going to make a push towards the top 30 this season, but Medvedev will probably be a bridge too far at this stage. The Russian was almost perfect against Isner, and if he plays to that level again, he’ll be coming out on top.

Rubber 3: Doubles, live from Perth around 2.00pm local time (6.00am GMT)

Russian captain Marat Safin said he is likely to stick with Medvedev and Khachanov as his No. 1 doubles team as he wants them to gel as much as possible before the knockout stage, while Christian Ruud will stick with his son Casper, who needs to play out of his skin to give Norway the slimmest of chances of reaching the quarter-finals, and Durasovic.