ATP Cup

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ATP Cup

Obviously you didn’t hear much from me over the last year or so when all of this ATP Cup organization and Davis Cup modification was happening, no commentary from me on the work of the ATP, ITF and partners like Tennis Australia and Gerard Pique’s Kosmos investment group.

I love the team oriented competitions, even having a country’s team members visible on the side of the court, cheering for their comrade(s) who in strictly athletic terms engage with an opposing country. Of course, the rabid, partisan fans of these kinds of international team competitions are dramatically involved with sometimes hooligan-like behavior, which can play a huge role in matches as the faithful attempt to lift their guys to victory and/or chastise their opponent.

In a very individual sport like men’s professional tennis on the ATP, historically we have enjoyed this change in competitive character, format and objective. Victory for the motherland!

The Davis Cup has been, popularly, this diversion that has offered us great team competition throughout the history of the sport.

Let me cut to the chase: I have been somewhat disinterested in the ATP Cup, not even clear on the objective. We just crowned Spain champions of the revamped Davis Cup six weeks ago. So, what is the ATP Cup exactly? Did I miss something?

Seems pretty redundant and over-crowded.

The new season-ending Davis Cup Finals in November featured 18 countries.

This inaugural ATP Cup includes 24 countries.

That’s a lot of teams, a lot of players, and this is on the eve of the Australian Open?

We should appreciate the desire of these players to represent their countries even though, naturally, there’s a lot of money being made at this 24-team Aussie Open warm-up event (which is what it ultimately seems to be).  Jonathan over at Perfect-Tennis.com has a nice breakdown of the distribution of the $15 million purse.

I’m not the only one questioning the common sense of this international tennis orgy.

Several players are not all-in on this redundant team competition: Novak, Rafa, Shapo and others all call for the ATP and ITF to get together and come-up with a single international season-ending (or season-beginning???) team competition that crowns one champion. How does Spain feel, fighting for another world championship after coming through in November at the Davis Cup Finals? Does the money make any difficulty here go away? The aforementioned article evidences some shared concern.

Which is how I have approached this event. Admittedly, nice to see some players agree.

Yet we’ve still had some tennis to watch and, again, the passion of these team competitions adds an interesting element to the matches.

Last week I almost blogged a “Must Watch” alert, as I’m prone to do. This pertained to a FAA v Kyrgios match as Canada with it’s two young talents hoped to upset the host-country favorite. Well, Kyrgios sat due to an “injury” so John Millman took the stage and spanked Auger-Aliassime. I actually didn’t watch that match. What the hell has FAA been up to? Granted, Millman has a raucous crowd at his back, but pretty tough look for the 19 year-old.

I did catch the match between De Minaur and Shapovalov. Great first set, though Denis is still just too loose, too many errors, over-cooking the shot, etc. The OHBH certainly looks like a flawed approach to the BH on this Canadian. De Minaur just played the typical THBH, back-of-the-court riskless tennis and overcame Shapo in three. I didn’t actually watch the last two sets in full, knowing what was happening.

A quick glance around the coverage, I’ve watched a bit of Djokovic doubles and singles. Not a good look to see him struggling a bit with the right shoulder. Ahead of the Australian Open, this looks to fit with one of my early 2020 predictions: Nadal wins a Calendar Slam (I’m sorta being serious). I’ll definitely write a pre-2020 post with predictions and thoughts, which will include some of those thoughts I promised about the Big 3.

Serbia advances and they seem to have a shot with Troicki showing some value in doubles. The Serbia v France doubles between Djoker/Troicki and Mahut/Roger-Vasselin proved quite competitive. The Serbian contingent has shown-up down-under for sure, which one has to think really helped the Serbs in that deciding rubber.

Nadal and Spain have been cruising, as has Russia with its Khachanov/Medvedev muscle.

Kyrgios, De Minaur, et al appear destined for a continued run here, as well.

The tournament turns now to the knock-out round or Final Eight.

Good timing on this post.

Beginning tonight (Thursday in Australia):

1. QF #1: Australia vs. Great Britain. I’m a bit surprised GB advanced as they seemed down early last week, but the squashy tennis of Evans, good efforts from Norrie, and solid doubles have them poised to likely get smashed by the favorites. Kyrgios looks focused (and brilliant) and De Minaur is just a pestering insect out there who refuses to die.

2. QF #2: Argentina vs. Russia. I didn’t watch, but the fact that Croatia is out at the hands of Argentina is poor. Looked like Coric might have revived some of that promise to go with Cilic, but no. The fight from Guido and Diego continues. I don’t see them getting past Russia.

3. QF #3: Serbia vs. Canada. Canada gets through on some Shapo form and decent doubles, I suspect. Like Zverev, FAA looks uncoachable? Novak should have enough to get through this one though he’s a bit of a one-man show.

4. QF #4: Spain vs. Belguim. I’m glad Goffin and countrymen got here, but Spain is loaded. A healthy and hungry Rafa and the rest of that competitive bunch (RBA, Feli, Busta) means they’re finals bound.

We want the Aussie vs Spain SF in a big way. Serbia vs. Russia looks likely on the other side. We’ll be watching at this point for sure.

Still not buying the ATP Cup, but we have tennis on the tele with some very prominent blokes throwing their international fists about the court. We love that!

Meanwhile, do we have a Wawrinka vs. Rublev final coming to terms in Doha? There are some other gents in the draw there in this more traditional Aussie Open warm-up.

Thanks for reading. Certainly more to come. I promise.

#AO2020

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