While the champagne corks were popping around the globe, the fireworks were lighting up the night sky, and people were joyfully wishing each other a Happy New Year, it was already getting serious again in tennis.
The start of 2022 brings the new tennis season with the ATP Cup in Sydney. From 1 to 9 January, players compete as a team for their country. There are four groups of four teams:
Group A: Serbia, Norway, Chile, Spain
Group B: Russia, Italy, France, Australia
Group C: Germany, Canada, Great Britain, USA
Group D: Greece, Poland, Argentina, Georgia
The four group winners advance to the semi-finals. The countries play two singles against each other and then a doubles match.
The first opponent of the British in their Group C was the Germans last Sunday. An opponent with whom the players still had a score to settle. In the quarter-finals of the Davis Cup in November 2021, the British narrowly lost to the Germans and were eliminated. The players did not want to miss the chance for revenge.
Cameron Norrie, Dan Evans, Liam Broady, Joe Salisbury, and Jamie Murray represented the British team, with Liam Broady also taking on the role of captain.
Playing for Team Germany were Alexander Zverev, Jan-Lennard Struff, Yannik Hanfmann, Kevin Krawietz and Tim Puetz. The captain is Michael Kohlmann.
In the first singles match of the day, British No. 2 Dan Evans played German No. 2 Jan-Lennart Struff. The Briton was positioned ahead of the German (No. 51) at No. 25 in the world rankings, and this difference was evident.
Even though Struff can keep up with Evans on a good day, nothing went right for the German. The Briton, on the other hand, played tactically clever tennis and was superior. The first set lasted 32 minutes, during which Evans made only four unforced errors and hit 11 winners.
The 31-year-old also played with a lot of energy in the second set and gave the German no chance. Evans won his singles match 6-1 6-2 and gave the British a 1-0 lead. After the match, Evans said contentedly, “It’s a good way to start 2022!”
In the second singles match of the day, British No. 1 Cameron Norrie met Alexander Zverev, third in the world rankings. The two have faced each other twice before, and both times the German won.
But the young Briton’s upward form over the past year led us to expect an exciting match, and that’s precisely what happened.
The first set was hard-fought. Both had chances to break but could not make use of them. For Zverev, not everything was clicking, but he prevailed in the decisive tiebreak 7-2 and won the first set 7-6.
Norrie sometimes managed to impose his style of play, but Zverev was still able to shape the match and won the tiebreak with his class when it came down to it. Nevertheless, the Briton played very well.
At the beginning of the second set, it looked as if it would continue to be exciting because the Briton was about to take the serve from Zverev. But the German managed to get out of this tricky situation and took a 1-0 lead. He then stopped the unforced errors he made in the first set. The 24-year-old took the match into his own hands, winning the second set 6-1.
Afterwards Zverev said: “The first match of the year is never going to be the best match of you’re life. But I’m pretty happy as I did my job. We’re here to try and win.”
It was level between Britain and Germany, so the winner had to be decided by the doubles. It was planned that Jamie Murray/Joe Sailsbury would start for the British and Kevin Krawietz/Tim Puetz for the Germans. But shortly before the match, changes took place.
The strong Briton Dan Evans entered with Jamie Murray. Zverev from Hamburg, who had only just finished his singles, also wanting to play doubles, so he replaced the slightly injured Tim Puetz and entered with Kevin Krawietz.
So both teams started the decisive match with new combinations. The British could adjust to their new partners more quickly and made fewer mistakes. Evans and Murray looked familiar and coped better with the unique situation.
For the Germans, on the other hand, things did not go smoothly. German doubles specialist Kevin Krawietz especially did not get into the match. He couldn’t get his serve through, and the Germans then had to chase the break. Zverev also made a few errors, and so the British won the first set 6-3 after 37 minutes.
In the second set, too, the British looked more well-rehearsed. Krawietz, a good doubles player and mainstay in the Germans’ win over the British in the 2021 Davis Cup, could not cope. Evans and Murray managed to break the Germans again and won this set 6-4.
The courageous decision of the British team, around captain Liam Broady, to change the line-up once again before the decisive doubles paid off. The British won 2 to 1 against Germany.
After the match, the captain said about this decision: “We have fantastic double and single players, and we can mix the players up. Today we mixed it up, and they played a fantastic match.”
Grinning, he added, “It was the revenge for the Davis Cup.”