Italy seal spot in ATP Cup semifinals, Germany edges tight Canada tie

Italy sealed a place in the semifinals of the ATP Cup by winning both singles matches against France.

Fabio Fognini in action during the ATP Cup quarterfinals on Wednesday in Melbourne. - GETTY IMAGES

Italy sealed a place in the semifinals of the ATP Cup by winning both singles matches against France on Wednesday, while Germany did its chances of progressing no harm by taking an unassailable 2-0 lead over Canada at the Rod Laver Arena.

With the second edition of the national team competition truncated because of Australian Open coronavirus quarantine, victory for Fabio Fognini and Matteo Berrettini in the singles combined with Tuesday’s 2-1 win over Austria ensured Italy would top Group C.

Fognini downed Benoit Paire 6-1, 7-6 (2) in the opening match of the day on John Cain Arena before Matteo Berrettini outwitted Gael Monfils 6-4, 6-2 to make France’s doubles win academic.

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“We are playing good, we’ve got great energy, we are really happy to be in the semifinals,” Berrettini said.

“Last year, I didn’t play and unfortunately the guys couldn’t make it, so we’re really pumped.”

Close contest

If that clash was one-sided, the Germany-Canada Group A tie was anything but with four of the five sets in the two singles matches decided by tiebreakers. Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff dominated the first two and finished off Milos Raonic with a thumping ace for a 7-6 (4), 7-6 (2) victory that gave Germany a 1-0 lead in its opening tie.

After losing 2-1 to Novak Djokovic’s Serbia on Tuesday, Canada needed to win the tie to stay alive in the competition and Denis Shapovalov made a positive start by taking the first set against Alexander Zverev.

 

Shapovalov, backing up after a loss to Djokovic, needed treatment on his shoulder as World No. 7 Zverev levelled up the contest in the second set, however.

Zverev, in his first match of the year, warmed to his task in a tight deciding set but was unable to convert seven break points as Shapovalov dug deep.

Shapovalov had his chances in the decisive tiebreak but an unforced error and a double fault at crucial moments opened the door for Zverev and the German stormed through it with his 14th and 15th aces for a 6-7 (5), 6-3, 7-6 (4) victory.

Russia could join Italy in the semifinals if it can beat Japan in its Group D clash on later on Wednesday, while Greece plays its first Group B tie against an Australia team facing an early exit after Tuesday’s 3-0 drubbing at the hands of Spain.