Daniil Medvedev was supposed to overtake Ugo Humbert on day two of the ATP Cup, but someone forgot to give the Frenchman the script.
Daniil Medvedev’s hopes of avenging last year’s heartbreak at the Australian Open caught a snag on day two of the ATP Cup when he was ambushed in a three-sentence thriller by a man who didn’t even participate in the draw last week.
After Novak Djokovic’s retirement, world number 2 Medvedev was the biggest star to grace the Sydney tournament that year, but in his first match he was replaced by world number 35 French Ugo Humbert, 7-6, 5- 7, 6-7.
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Austria dropped out of the ATP Cup in the days leading up to the new year for entry into the tournament, and as the highest-ranked member of the team, Humbert faced the all-powerful task of asserting himself against the second best men in the world.
He might have beaten Medvedev at the couple’s only other previous meeting, but not many gave the 23-year-old a chance this time, especially since Medvedev led Russia to victory in the ATP Cup in 2021 and won a total of 10-0 in team events last year.
Humbert lost the first set in a tie-break but fought his way back in the second of three games to get his esteemed rival into a third set.
There was no less tension in the last set, which also went into a tie-break.
Humbert gathered every strength he still had after almost three hours of playing time, did the unthinkable and polished the US Open champion in 2021 in the tie-break 7-2 to send shock waves through the tennis community.
It was the biggest win of the Frenchman’s professional career so far.
Showdown in North America
Two traditional rivals went head-to-head at the ATP Cup on Sunday, but a hilarious moment before Canada’s second clash with the US certainly helped ease the tension.
Only a few hours before the start of the game, the Canadian left-hander Denis Shapovalov withdrew from his team’s first individual game of the day and referred to the fatigue after his time in isolation with Covid-19.
The number 14 in the world tested positive upon arrival in Sydney and, despite having since been released from biosecurity protocols, decided to suspend the game.
“I’m disappointed that I won’t be able to play the first game, but I didn’t feel physically ready, so we did our best for the team,” he said.
The withdrawal in the 11th
The second duel, in which the Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime with the number 11 in the world and the American Taylor Fritz (number 23) participated, started unhappy.
As usual, the couple posed for a picture on both sides of the net before the game.
However, no photographer appeared to capture the top ranked players from the rival nations, and the players smiled into the abyss.
“There is no photographer, you can go,” said a match official, realizing the mistake.
Then the players split up into a hard-fought competition.
Fritz eventually defeated his opponent to ensure that with one game in hand, the US would beat Canada.
Australia’s ATP Cup campaign got off to a shaky start before the first ball was ever served, with news that James Duckworth was banned from his first match of the tournament.
Despite his hot form at the time, Duckworth missed representing his country at last year’s Davis Cup and in yet another blow to the Sydney-born native, he’s now sidelined with a hip pain.
The injury makes Australia’s engagement on the second day of the tournament even more challenging than it already was.
Australia’s best seeded Alex de Minaur (No. 34) meets the Wimbledon runner-up of 2021, Matteo Berrettini, as planned, but now the number 10 in the world, Jannik Sinner, meets the Australian Max Purcell, who is in 176th place.
In the first of the earlier match-ups, world number 167 Roman Safiullin caused a big surprise when he defeated Arthur Rinderknech (No. 58) from a setdown in the first match.
The Medvedev defeat gave Russia a decisive double game against the French.