ATP Cup: Russia topples Japan to march into last four

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ATP Cup: Russia topples Japan to march into last four

Sending two top-10 players to the ATP Cup, Russia would always be among the favorites at this year's ATP team competition. Like in 2020, Russia will compete in the semi-final following commanding wins over Argentina and Japan.

Andrey Rublev and Daniil Medvedev are yet to lose the set this week in Melbourne, earning four triumphs to propel their country into the semis against Germany or Serbia. Rublev toppled Yoshihito Nishioka 6-1, 6-3 in 64 minutes in the first encounter, controlling the pace with 21 winners and 17 unforced errors to send his country in front.

Nishioka kicked off the clash with a break, losing edge after that instead of building the momentum. Andrey forced an error from the Japanese in game two to erase the deficit and cracked a backhand winner to open a 2-1 gap.

Dominating with his groundstrokes, Rublev broke Nishioka at 15 in game four and again in game six with a forehand winner to open a 5-1 gap. Serving for the set, Andrey hit a service winner a few minutes later to wrap up the opener in style.

Yoshihito missed a volley at the net to lose serve at 1-1 in set number two and wasted a break chance in the next one that could have given him at least some drive. Andrey saved a break point at 4-3 with a potent attack and sealed the deal with a break in game nine to deliver Russia's first point.

Russia defeated Japan to book the ATP Cup semi-final spot.

Daniil Medvedev followed his compatriot with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Kei Nishikori, his 12th consecutive since the Paris Masters. The match lasted for an hour and 15 minutes, and Daniil had the advantage on both serve and return.

The Russian lost serve once and grabbed four breaks that kept him safe, landing 19 winners and 17 unforced errors and reducing Kei to under ten direct points. Kei failed to endure an extended rally with a mighty opponent to suffer a break, saving another break chance at 0-2 to get his name on the scoreboard.

The Japanese pulled the break back in game four to level the score before Medvedev shifted into a higher gear and grabbed 16 of the last 21 points for 6-2! Nishikori netted a backhand in game five to fall behind for the second time and found himself 5-2 down when his volley landed wide.

Daniil closed the opening set with a hold at 15, and they stayed close to each other in the second set's first eight games. Medvedev secured a crucial break at 4-4 following an excellent court coverage and moved over the top with a service winner a couple of minutes later to propel Russia into the semis.