The fantastic thing about this format is you are guaranteed great match-ups early on. In Group D we have the man of the moment in Daniil Medvedev, the resilient Diego Schwartzman and Argentina and Kei Nishikori brings Japan to the party with his protected ranking.
Russia, Argentina & Japan
Daniil Medvedev is the man of the moment. In his last six matches he has defeated six top ten ranked players including coming from a set down to win the Paris Masters and a set down in both the semi-finals and final of the ATP Finals. He’s the man to beat. I absolutely love watching this guy play, I think he brings such a clever brain to the court and the composure, confidence and a slight arrogance he plays with is exceptional and I am excited to see him!
One player he will be up against is Diego Schwartzman and things did get heated here last year when they met in ATP Cup so I wouldn’t rule out more fireworks.
Diego himself starred in a disrupted 2020 season, he was exceptional in Rome and Roland Garros and offers soo much. It’s criminal packed crowds didn’t get to see him play his best last year but that is the way of the world right now but a crowd will see him in Melbourne.
Russia will have more firepower in the impressive Andrey Rublev who also had a great 2020 season and will be a force to stop!
The surprise in this twelve team event for me is Kei Nishikori and Japan. There were here last year but in all honesty, I don’t get it. Kei has played a handful of matches in the last 18 months, in fact just 11 matches winning just 4 of them.
It is a great competition and an opportunity but is it the ideal preparation to throw yourself into? Kei will be up against Daniil and Diego and I would not want that after limited tennis in 18 months and without a top ten win in over 800 days it’s a test but it could end before it has begun.
In all honesty though, I think Yoshihito Nishioka is the main man. I love the energy he brings to the court. He has recorded some big wins including over Nishikori in 2019 down in Cincinnati and almost upset Murray in New York last year. He works hard, plays with a smile and has the game to be a top 20 player in my opinion and will be key to Team Japan!