It didn’t take long for Argentina to shoot out of the ATP Cup gates. After a complete victory for Federico Delbonis in the No.2 singles match, Diego Schwartzman won the draw for his country against Georgia on Saturday with a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Nikoloz Basilashvili.
“I want to say Happy New Year to everyone who’s come by and are watching,” Schwartzman said during his on-field interview. “It was a good start for me. I know him because we’re the same age, but we haven’t played [before]. It’s the first time, so I’m happy to beat him that way. Obviously, I think of myself and I think that my departure and that of Federico for our team, it was perfect. “
Basilashvili has proven he can compete with the best in the world, having reached an ATP Masters 1000 final at the BNP Paribas Open just three months ago. But he struggled to find his reach from the baseline with his powerful groundstrokes and Schwartzman played consistently to triumph after 61 minutes.
“The good thing is that I don’t hit harder than my opponents on a regular basis. That’s why I think I came out on the pitch just thinking about a good serve game,” Schwartzman said. “I think the comeback was working very well.”
It didn’t take long for Delbonis to make an impact on his ATP Cup debut. In the No.2 singles match, the Argentine southpaw beat Aleksandre Metreveli 6-1, 6-2 in 65 minutes on Saturday to give his country a 1-0 lead.
“I think it’s a very good start to the year,” said Delbonis during his interview on the pitch. “I’m very happy with the way I played. I played from low to a little higher in my level. I want to keep improving and now it’s time to cheer on Diego and the rest of the game. ‘team.”
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Photo credit: Tennis Australia
Metreveli, who is No.571 in the ATP rankings, won an ATP Cup victory over Uruguay two years ago (1-2). But Alex Metreveli’s grandson, who beat Jimmy Connors en route to the Wimbledon final in 1973, struggled to deal with his veteran opponent’s consistency.
Delbonis used his heavy forehand to push the Georgian far behind the baseline and force him into risky shots from difficult positions on the pitch. The ATP Tour double titlist won 57% of his return points and broke his opponent’s serve six times.
“Of course you have the pressure because I didn’t know him. I didn’t know what to expect,” said Delbonis. “At first I felt a little nervous, the first game of the year and a little tight after the preseason. But I think I can handle that pressure.”
After Metreveli missed a final forehand, Delbonis pumped his fist towards the Argentina squad area in celebration.
In the last game of the meeting, ATP Cup veterans Maximo Gonzalez and Andres Molteni beat Saba Purtseladze and Zura Tkemaladze 6-1, 6-2 to complete the sweep of their country. The doubles match ended just as the clock struck midnight in Argentina, marking the New Year. The Argentines hoped to make their country proud.
“For us this is very important. Obviously everyone wants to be [at] at home these days with family, friends, “Schwartzman said.” But every player knows the year starts really quickly, really early. [The] first day of the year we start to play, so it is very important to start very well. It’s a team competition. “