Daniil Medvedev suffered a surprising defeat in his first game of the season against Frenchman Ugo Humbert on Sunday at the ATP Cup, upsetting his preparations for the Australian Open.
The US Open champion leads a Russian team in Sydney depleted by injuries and Covid-19 as they look to defend the title won against Italy last year.
But world number two Medvedev, who captured four tour-level titles in 2021, was stunned by the impressive 35-ranked Ugo Humbert on a hot Sydney day.
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Speaking to reporters after the game, Medvedev said he was not a fan of the Ken Rosewall Arena roof.
“It is just torture. It’s so hot and humid there, it’s unbelievable, ”Medvedev said.
“I think the last time I felt like this was in Tokyo, during the Olympics. Congratulations to Ugo, because he looked cool.
“(But) there is no air, there is nothing to breathe, super humid, sweating. I think I changed four or five shirts. I mean, it was really difficult. “
The Frenchman bounced back from a set down for a huge 6-7 (5/7), 7-5, 7-6 (7/2) upset in a grueling 2 hours and 55 minutes when Medvedev, red-faced from the heat, he ran. no steam.
“It was very tough today, but I’m very happy,” Humbert said after one of the biggest victories of his career.
“I had a few chances in the first set and I tried to stay relaxed, focused on what I had to do and it was a great match.”
With fifth-ranked Andrey Rublev missing after contracting coronavirus at an Abu Dhabi exhibition last month, the unknown Roman Safiullin was selected as Russia’s second singles player.
In 167th place, he saved 15 of 19 break points to clinch a 2-6, 7-5, 6-3 victory over Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech and set the stage for Medvedev, who could be the top seed at the Open. Australia this month does defend. the champion Novak Djokovic does not appear ”.
Djokovic has refused to confirm whether he has been vaccinated against Covid-19, a requirement at the inaugural Grand Slam of the year, and withdrew from the ATP Cup.
The tie between Russia and France was decisive in doubles.
Russia is in a tough ATP Cup group that also includes hosts Australia and 2021 runner-up Italy, led by world number seven Matteo Berrettini.
They are played in a draw at night with Berrettini against Alex de Miñaur. Only the winning nations advance to the semifinals of each of the four groups in the team event, which runs through January 9.
In the other game of the night, Alexander Zverev’s Germany faces a British team led by Cameron Norrie, who had a great 2021 season that saw him storm the rankings to finish in 12th place.
Meanwhile, the United States won their clash against Canada, with veteran John Isner defeating Brayden Schnur 6-1, 6-3 after intervening on short notice by 14th-ranked Denis Shapovalov, who retired due to fatigue.
The 22-year-old is still struggling after testing positive for Covid-19 upon arrival in Sydney, and then spent time in isolation.
“I’m disappointed that I can’t play the first game, but I still didn’t feel physically ready, so we did our best for the team,” said Shapovalov, who then made his way by playing the role of the dead. Double rubber.
Taylor Fritz then defeated eleventh-ranked Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-7 (6/8), 6-4, 6-4.