The United States beat Canada and defending champions Russia beat France in the ATP Cup on Sunday, with the Americans taking a much easier route.
John Isner and Taylor Fritz beat their Canadian opponents in the singles and then won the doubles match for a 3-0 victory.
Isner beat Brayden Schnur 6-1, 6-4 in 66 minutes to give the Americans the lead. Schnur belatedly replaced Denis Shapovalov, who withdrew from Sunday’s opener due to fatigue. The Canadian is recovering from contracting COVID-19 during a recent tournament in the Middle East.
Fritz then came back from a set down to beat 11th Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-7 (6), 6-4, 6-4 and win the game before the Americans won the double 6-4, 6-4 against Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov.
Russia, meanwhile, needed the decisive doubles match to secure the victory over France.
Roman Safiullin beat Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech 2-6, 7-5, 6-3 before Ugo Humbert, 35th, equalized the match with a surprise victory of 6-7 (5), 7-5, 7- 6 (2) on No. 2 Daniil Medvedev.
But Medvedev and Safiullin returned to beat two new doubles opponents – Fabrice Martin and Edouard Roger-Vasselin – 6-4, 6-4.
The two games of the night went to the decisive double after Great Britain and Italy took the lead.
Daniel Evans defeated Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff 6-1, 6-2 while Italy’s Jannik Sinner defeated Australia’s Max Purcell 6-1, 6-3.
But the German Alexander Zverev, world number 3, beat Cameron Norris 7-6 (2), 6-1 and Australia’s Alex de Minaur defeated Italy’s Matteo Berrettini 6-3, 7-6 (4) for send both matches in doubles.
In doubles, Britons Norris and Jamie Murray secured the tie with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Germans Zverev and Kevin Kravietz. Home favorites John Peers and Luke Saville later beat Italian duo Berrettini and Simone Bolelli 6-3, 7-5.
Isner saved the only breaking point he faced against his Canadian opponent.
“I surprised myself how well I played here,” Isner said during his interview on the pitch. “You always work hard in the offseason, but you never really know what might happen in that first game of the year.”
Isner broke twice in the first set and used his solid serve to capitalize on the advantage. The American hit 10 aces and won 46% of his return points.
“In fact, I really like this field. It’s not too fast, which is what I prefer. It gives me a little time to swing on my shots that are so big. It helps me a lot, ”Isner said.
On opening day on Saturday, Argentina and Spain both claimed 3-0 victories over Georgia and Chile, respectively. Serbia, despite playing without No.1 Novak Djokovic, beat Norway 2-1 and Poland took advantage of Stefanos Tsitsipas’s absence in singles to beat Greece 2-1.
The 16 teams are divided into four groups, with the winners of each group advancing to the semi-finals on January 7 and 8. The final is scheduled for January 9.
The Associated Press