U.S. falls to 1-1 in ATP Cup
with Group C Loss to Germany
Victoria Chiesa | January 4, 2022
After a commanding opening win against Canada, Team USA was handed its first loss at the 2022 ATP Cup on Tuesday by Germany, 2-1.
A pair of contrasting singles victories helped the Germany secure the tie, but a doubles win by Team USA prevented the sweep. For the first time in six meetings, Jan-Lennard Struff beat John Isner to open the tie, 7-6(7), 4-6, 7-5, before Alexander Zverev sealed a 6-4, 6-4 win over Taylor Fritz to seal it. Isner and Fritz ended proceedings with a 6-0, 6-3 win over Kevin Krawietz and Tim Puetz.
Isner served 34 aces and saved the first seven break points he faced, but was unable to secure a sixth straight win against Struff: he was unable to convert a set point in the opener, and dropped serve to lose the match after denying Struff two earlier chances to win.
"Sometimes in matches it's just one or two points. ADVERTISEMENT I had a feeling I stayed very aggressive the whole match," Struff said in victory. "I was serving pretty well in the third set. I think I saw the stats, and he just won three points on my service game in the third set. I think that put him a bit under pressure that I was very focused on my games. I was returning pretty well. I was fighting very hard. So I kind of showed him that I'm there every time, and I think that was the key."
Zverev broke Fritz in the first game of each set and a commanding performance on serve helped him keep the lead; the German lost just five points on serve in the opener—three of which came in the final game when he secured the set from 15-40 down—and also saved both break points he faced in the second set. He secured victory thanks to a titantic final hold, ultimately needing six match points to win.
"[It was a] great effort by Jan to start off. I think we needed that win. We needed to get on the board, and it made my job easy, as well," Zverev added. "If you're up 1-0, it's obviously much nicer to play, much nicer to be on the court. Credits to Jan, I think he played a fantastic match today.
“Until the last game, it was a good level for my second match of year. It was very intense and hard hitting. The most important thing is that Team Germany won and we have given ourselves the best chance of reaching the semis.”
With equal 1-1 round-robin records, all four teams in Group C are still in contention to reach the semifinals. Team USA will face Great Britain on Thursday, as Isner and Fritz will face Dan Evans and Cam Norrie, respectively, in singles, while Germany faces Canada. With a win, and a win for Canada, Team USA will win the group and reach the knockout rounds.