Heading to the ATP Cup with two top-20 singles players, the Russians were among the favorites for the title in Sydney, hoping to go even further than at the Davis Cup Finals in November. Daniil Medvedev and Karen Khachanov have shown top-class tennis so far, pushing Russia through the group stage and beating Argentina in the quarter-final tie in Sydney to advance into the last four.
In the first encounter, Karen Khachanov took down Guido Pella 6-2, 7-6 in an hour and 38 minutes, propelling his country in front and making things easier for his teammate Daniil Medvedev ahead of the second rubber. Karen landed 73% of the first serve in, struggling a little bit after missing it and fending off five out of six break chances and prevailing in the tight second set to seal the deal without spending more time on the court.
A left-hander got broken at love in the third game after a return winner from Khachanov who secured another break in game five to move 4-1 up in less than 20 minutes against who had some emotional problems, almost starting crying in the rest of the set.
Pella pulled one break back before getting broken for the third time in a row, allowing Karen to close the set with a service winner in game eight for a 6-2. The Argentine managed to recover in set number two, sailing through his service games and keeping the pressure on the Russian who had to play against four break chances in the sixth game.
Staying calm, Khachanov fired three booming serve to get out of jail, reaching the tie break where Guido opened a 3-1 lead. The next four points went to the side of his rival who moved 5-2 in front following a costly double fault from Pella, sealing the deal with two service winners to take the breaker 7-4 and grab his fourth victory of the season.
World no. 5 Daniil Medvedev locked the win for Russia, beating Diego Schwartzman 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 in two hours and 22 minutes, staying undefeated at this year's ATP Cup and moving in front of Dominic Thiem on the ATP list to secure the place in the top-4 seeds in Melbourne.
Daniil claimed seven points more than his rival, exchanging some harsh words with him at the end of the first set and losing temper with the chair umpire to earn a point penalty. In the end, Medvedev still did enough to cross the finish line first, blasting 14 aces and repelling eight out of ten break chances to mount the pressure on the other side of the net.
Despite giving his everything, Schwartzman suffered three breaks and missing an opportunity to keep his country alive ahead of the doubles clash. Daniil made the best possible start, serving well and breaking Diego in the sixth game to forge the advantage, wasting three set points on serve in game nine and falling on the sixth break chance offered to the Argentinian.
Serving at 4-5, Schwartzman couldn't use that momentum, getting broken at love to hand the opener to the Russian. The second set lasted for an hour and it was another challenging battle between two fine baseliners, counting to some ten deuces and with only one break that Diego scored in the seventh game following a forehand error from Daniil.
The Argentine needed five set points to close the set, saving a break point at 5-4 to bring it home and force a decider. There, Medvedev was back at his best in the service games, delivering one good hold after another and scoring a crucial break at 4-3 before moving over the top with a hold at 15 a few minutes later, sending Russia into the semi-final.