ATP Cup Day 1 Predictions Including Spain vs Australia

Novak Djokovic Australian Open final

The 2021 ATP Cup provides the worlds best players with perfect preparation for the Australian Open. With this year’s edition of the tournament being held exclusively on-site at Melbourne Park, it will give the players a perfect opportunity to acclimate to the conditions. With many of the countries taking part having a good depth of squad, it promises to be an exciting an unpredictable second edition of the event. Here are my predictions for the matches on Day 1.

2021 ATP Cup Day 1 Predictions

Spain vs Australia

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The night match on Rod Laver Arena features arguably the two countries who have the biggest depth in their squads. Spain has three elite level singles players in Rafael Nadal, Roberto Bautista Agut, and Pablo Carreno Busta. However, just as importantly, they have a top doubles specialist in Marcel Granollers. Australia’s squad includes John Millman, Alex De Minaur, John Peers, and Luke Saville, so the Australians also have two established doubles players which they can use should the tie go to a deciding rubber.

The scheduled first match of the tie between John Millman and Roberto Bautista Agut could prove to be the most important match. It features two players with similar game style who like to wear opponent down from the back of the court. Alex De Minaur played some of the best tennis of his career in the competition last year against Rafael Nadal. However, the Spaniard still prevailed in three sets. It could be argued that Nick Kyrgios is a big miss as he thrives in team events, however i still think that Spain have the slight edge in this one. Nadal’s qualities as a doubles player mean that even if it goes to a deciding rubber, the option of pairing him up with Granollers could prove to be a winning formula. However, if we break down the predicted singles match-ups, in the first singles match, i think Roberto Bautista Agut will  just edge John Millman in three tight sets, however it will be a match one by fine margins. Rafael Nadal is the clear favourite to beat Alex De Minaur, and i think he will get the win in two tight sets.
Prediction: Spain 3-0

Probable Singles Predictions:

Bautista Agut over Millman in 3

Nadal over De Minaur in 2

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Austria vs Italy

The day match on the John Cain Arena features Austria and Italy. Italian tennis has been on the rise over the past few years. We have seen the rise of Matteo Berrettini and Jannik Sinner. However, the latter is not on the Italian team, and Berrettini has a disappointing 2020 season which saw him fail to build on his successful 2019 season. Fabio Fognini, although unpredictable, is always a threat and could link up with Simone Bolelli in the doubles as the pair won the Australian Open mens doubles title in 2015. Andrea Vassori completes the team.

The Austrian team features last year’s Australian Open finalist and US Open champion in Dominic Thiem, along with Denis Novak, Philipp Oswald, and Tristan-Samuel Weissborn. Novak is just inside the top 100 in singles, and Oswald’s doubles ranking is currently at #42, so there is some depth and experience in the team. Thiem will be favorite to beat Berrettini and Fognini to beat Novak, so I think it will go to a doubles rubber and I expect the Italian’s depth to prove to be slightly stronger than Austria’s. For the first singles match, i think Fognini will record a routine straight sets win over Novak. Thiem against Berrettini should be a tighter match, and the Italian will be looking to start 2021 on a positive note after a difficult 2020 season. However, I predict Thiem to win in three sets.
Prediction: Italy 2-1

Probable Singles Predictions:

Fognini over Novak in 2

Thiem over Berrettini in 3

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Argentina vs Russia

The night session match on John Cain Arena features arguably the most tightly contested match of the day. Russia’s team features Andrey Rublev, Daniil Medvedev, Aslan Karatsev and Evgeny Donskoy. Medvedev was the best player in the final weeks of the season, winning the Paris Masters and ATP Finals. Rublev also had a strong 2020 season and will be looking to build on last season’s success. Karatsev had success on the ATP Challenger Tour last season and Donskoy provides an experienced backbone to the squad.

Argentina’s team contains Diego Schwartzman, who was arguably the in-form player of last season, qualifying for the ATP Finals for the first time. Guido Pella is an established member of the top 50, with a current ranking of #44. Horacio Zeballos and Maximo Gonzalez mean that there are two doubles specialists in the team. With Pella scheduled to play Rublev, and Schwartzman scheduled to play Medvedev, Argentina are arguably the narrow underdogs in both singles matches. However, I think Argentina will win one of the singles rubbers. Medvedev and Schwartzman played each other last year in what was a bad tempered three set match with Medvedev getting the win. The doubles could go anyway, but I think Russia will just pull through with the win. I think Pella will record the upset against Rublev, who needs to improve mentally in the big moments in matches. Medvedev against Schwartzman could prove to be one of the matches of the tournament, and it could go either way. However I think Medvedev will win in three tight sets
Prediction: Russia 2-1

Probable Singles Predictions:

Pella over Rublev in 3

Medvedev over Schwartzman in 3

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Serbia vs Canada

The day session match on the Rod Laver Arena features last years champions Serbia against  Canada. Despite the absence of Felix Auger-Alliasme, the Canadians pose a real threat to the defending champions, with big serving Milos Raonic slated to play in the opening singles rubber against Dusan Lajovic. Denis Shapovalov featured in a classic match with Novak Djokovic at the quarterfinal stage of the event last year.

However, arguably the biggest loss for the Canadian team is the absence of Vasek Pospisil, who was voted the ATP Comeback Player of the Year last season. The 2014 Wimbledon doubles winner could have been the perfect option if the tie went to a deciding doubles rubber, and after achieving an impressive run to the final of the ATP 250 event in Sofia in the final week of last season, he would have been a good option for the singles as well. Steven Diez and Peter Polansky complete the Canadian squad, and although both have over a decades worth of experience on the tour, neither are used to the big stage. Serbia have good squad depth alongside World #1 Novak Djokovic, with Filip Krajinovic, Dusan Lajovic, and Nikola Cacic completing the squad. I think this will go to a deciding doubles rubber, but I think Serbia’s depth will see them through. I think Raonic will get the win over Lajovic in two tight sets in the days opening rubber. Djokovic against Shapovalov will be a close match, but i think Djokovic will have enough to beat the Canadian in two tight sets.
Prediction: Serbia 2-1

Probable Singles Predictions:

Raonic over Lajovic in 2

Djokovic over Shapovalov in 2

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