2. Spaniards Shine, Fall Just Short Of Title
Rafael Nadal and the rest of Team Spain battled hard from Perth to Sydney, working their way to the deciding doubles in the championship tie. But the Spaniards fell just short against an inspired Serbian side.
The Spaniards had their backs against the wall in the quarter-finals against Belgium, with Sander Gille/Joran Vliegen taking the first set of a deciding doubles match. But the entire team showed relentless determination, helping them advance to the championship. Roberto Bautista Agut, who went 6-0 at the first ATP Cup, gave his country a point against Serbia. But it was not enough.
"I think is a great competition. Excited to be part of it. Excited to represent my country," Nadal said. "I enjoyed a lot to share all this week and a half with my friends on the team. The organisation have been fantastic, honestly."
3. Australians Thrill Home Crowds En Route To Semis
The Australians needed a wild card at the first entry deadline to ensure their spot in the inaugural ATP Cup. But the home favourites proved that they were plenty deserving of their place, advancing to the semi-finals.
In the Final Eight, Australia played in one of the most memorable ties of the event, defeating Great Britain 2-1 when Alex de Minaur and Nick Kyrgios saved four match points in the deciding doubles to stun doubles stars Jamie Murray and Joe Salisbury.
De Minaur was close to surprising World No. 1 Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals, which would have forced another deciding doubles thriller. But despite the Aussie’s tremendous effort, backed by a raucous crowd, Spain ended the home side’s run.
4. Russians Show Why They Will Be A Force For Years To Come
Russia’s top two singles players, Daniil Medvedev and Karen Khachanov, are both 23. So making the semi-finals shows that their country will be a force to be reckoned with for years to come.
Khachanov and Medvedev led Russia through Group D play with the loss of just one match across three ties. And with a dangerous Argentina team waiting in the Final Eight, they raised their levels even higher to earn a 3-0 sweep and make the semi-finals. Medvedev played Djokovic in one of the matches of the tournament, but fell just short of sending his country to a deciding doubles.
5. Video Review Gives Players New Look
From confirming whether a player touched the ball with his finger before hitting a no-look spinorama lob to checking whether a player hit a ‘foul shot’ by making contact with a volley on the opposite side of the net, there was plenty of use of Video Review at the ATP Cup.
Team Moldova challenged a foot fault that was called on Alexander Cozbinov during his doubles match alongside Radu Albot against Great Britain. The chair umpire performs the review using a screen and audio attached to their chair, so Albot climbed up the chair to check it out himself.
“I think it’s really cool,” Albot said of Video Review. “I also saw… with Novak when he put the racquet over the net. That was interesting because if there is no VR [Video Review], you cannot see, it is so quick.”
6. Team Zones A Hit
One of the players’ favourite innovations at this 24-country event was the Team Zone. Instead of sitting on a bench next to the umpire’s chair, players had a zone in the back corner of the court where they were able to confer with their country’s captain, personal coach, countrymen and support staff.
On many occasions, players scheduled to compete later in the day would first show their support for their countrymen. The same held true for those who had already competed, rushing back to the Team Zone as close to when their match ended as possible.
“In ATP tournaments normally you cannot even communicate with your coach, you’re by yourself and thinking by yourself,” said Russian No. 2 Karen Khachanov. “You’re trying to analyse what’s going on and here you have your whole team behind you, your personal coach, captain. The stats enable you to talk about every point and I think it’s a really good addition.”
Anyone in the Team Zone was able to use a special tablet to analyse live stats and other information, helping them to potentially change tactics mid-match.