ATP Cup’s inaugural finalists, Team Spain, overcome Poland, securing a spot on Sunday’s final, awaits to meet Team Russia or Canada.
Following Friday’s victory over Poland, Spain now awaits to meet its championship match opponent, Russia or Canada.
Spain’s No. 1 singles player, Roberto Bautista Agut, sealed the team’s fate with another high-level tennis display, clinching a 7-6(6), 2-6, 7-6(5) victory over World No. 9 Hubert Hurkacz at Ken Rosewall Arena after two hours and 44 minutes.
Once the thrilling encounter concluded, the 33-year-old commented: “It’s a match that I will always remember. I think both of us could get the win today.”
Further adding: “He also really deserved a lot of good things. But this is our game, this is tennis. Today I was the one who got the win. I think I also deserved it. I did a lot of good things on the court.”
Bautista Agut got his 2022 season underway with a stellar performance, winning all four of the singles matches he played at the competition from the group stages to the semi-final.
“Sometimes you get the win on the first [match] point,” the experienced Spaniard said.
“He played two or three lines in a row, but sometimes you stay focussed like today, you keep working, and finally you lose the tiebreak. But today, I kept working, and I got the win.”
The three-set thriller saw World No. 19 stealing the opening set 7-6(6), giving his country the lead in the tie.
Claiming the first break against Hurkacz, he opened a 2-1 advantage, which his rival managed to narrow at 4-4.
The top Polish men’s player raised to the occasion, firing aces (24 overall) and saving match points, which led to a tiebreak, but the relentless Spaniard was determined to take the win. He came back from 1-4 down to close out 7-6(6).
The reigning Miami Open champion - who broke into the top 10 last October, quickly took a 2-0 lead in the second set, moving on to produce a double break over his adversary, earning a 6-2 win over the 9-time ATP titlist to keep his country chances alive, forcing a decider.
One set away from a second ATP Cup final for Team Spain and all to play for the Polish, the battle to secure the first spot in the 2022 edition grand finale intensified.
Bautista Agut put his rival under pressure, playing aggressively while the 24-year-old continued to save match points, exceptionally fighting for every single ball.
As Hurkacz leveled at 5-5, holding at 6-6, the decider unfolded into a third set tiebreak, which Agut won 7-6(5), booking his nation a ticket to the championship match.
“I played really aggressive at the end of the match. Maybe a bit more aggressive in the tiebreak than on the match points, but I ended the tiebreak with a good passing shot,” Agut stressed.
Adding: “He was playing unbelievable volleys, so I’m really happy about the win of today.”
The first match of the day had seen Spain’s No. 2 singles player, Pablo Carreno Busta defeat Jan Zielinski 6-2, 6-1 in 53 minutes.
Playing doubles, the Pole duo Szymon Walkow and Zielinski toppled Pedro Martinez and Albert Ramos-Vinolas 4-6, 6-3, [10-6].
Roberto Bautista Agut: Flawless
Bautista Agut, a former soccer player for the Villarreal team - until he was 14 years old, has built a solid career as a professional tennis player, having achieved his first grand slam semi-final back in 2019 in Wimbledon.
A key figure for his country, he sent the team back into the finals even without the presence of Rafael Nadal.
Throughout his impressive singles campaign, he outlasted Chile’s Cristian Garin 6-0, 6-3, World No. 8 Casper Ruud 6-4, 7-6(4), Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic 6-1, 6-4, and Hurkacz, reaching the final stage of the competition undefeated, ahead of the first major of the season, the Australian Open.
Placed in Group A, alongside Chile, Serbia, and Norway, Spain topped the group standings 6-0 going into their third group tie against Serbia, which they eventually won 2-1.
Meanwhile, Group D featured Poland, Greece, Argentina, and Georgia, with the former deciding the group versus the South American team, recording a perfect 3-0 score to qualify into the semi-finals, becoming the first team to reach the final four.
Reigning champions Team Russia and Team Canada will face Saturday in Sydney.