Next Gen ATP standouts Stefanos Tsitsipas and Denis Shapovalov both enjoyed stellar finishes to their 2019 seasons to give plenty of reason to believe bigger and better things are just around the corner. The 21-year-old Tsitsipas beat Roger Federer and Dominic Thiem to win the ATP Finals. Shapovalov, 20, finished runner-up at the Paris Masters, before helping Canada reach the championship match at the Davis Cup Finals.
On Friday, the world No. 6 Tsitsipas and No. 15 Shapovalov found themselves squaring off to begin a new decade of tennis at the revamped ATP Cup, a team competition held throughout three Australian cities. The 24-country event, which looks to bring interaction and innovation to another dimension through corner team zones and enhanced video review, began with a pair of mismatches in Sydney and Brisbane prior to showcasing a match with some intrigue.
Shapovalov ultimately clinched the Group F win for Canada over Greece, winning the battle of one-handed backhands, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (4), on Brisbane’s Patrick Rafter Arena.
"It's an unbelievable win for me. To beat a player like him, means a lot to me," Shapovalov said on-court afterwards.
The left-hander experienced early jitters one would understand in opening a new season, but as he did in Madrid last November for his nation, rose to the occasion. Shapovalov, who saved a set point in the opener and erased all four break points he faced, was the more vocal of the two—a fire that carried over to delivering in the clutch on serve. Tsitsipas double faulted to end the tense affair.
Earlier, Felix Auger-Aliassime claimed the first ATP Cup win. The 19-year-old overwhelmed 483rd-ranked Michail Pervolarakis, 6-1, 6-3, in 69 minutes. Auger-Aliassime came out with a purpose, denying his opponent a single winner in the first set and outside of four double faults and sporting the wrong shirt color of blue, put together a solid performance to kick off his year.
“It felt good. I can’t ask for a better start, I think,” Auger-Aliassime told Prakash Amritraj. “I was able to dictate from the first point, from the first returns. Overall, I can be happy with my performance.”
In Perth, Taylor Fritz got the U.S. on the board after posting a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Norway’s Viktor Durasovic, but John Isner was unable to seal the Group D match for the Americans.
Casper Ruud denied Isner two match points in rallying for a 6-7 (3), 7-6 (10), 7-5 win to keep his country alive, then teamed up with Durasovic to upend Austin Krajicek and Rajeev Ram, 4-6, 6-3 [10-5]. Ruud's victory over Isner marked his first over a Top-20 foe.
In Sydney, Steve Darcis edged Alexander Cozbinov, 6-4, 6-7 (4), 7-5, to hand Belgium an early advantage versus Moldova. World No. 11 David Goffin then eased past Radu Albot, 6-4, 6-1, to lock up the Group C meeting.