ATP Cup | Spain enters summit clash

Roberto Bautista Agut upset World No. 9 Hubert Hurkacz to dismiss a COVID-hit Poland and steer Spain into the ATP Cup final here on Friday.

Spain had a big advantage before the semifinal had even started with Poland suffering a major blow when Kamil Majchrzak announced he had tested positive and been forced into seven days of isolation.

Majchrzak had won all three of his singles rubbers so far and his replacement, doubles specialist Jan Zielinski, was a poor substitute.

He crashed 2-6, 1-6 to World No. 20 Pablo Carreno Busta in just 53 minutes to hand Spain a 1-0 advantage before Bautista Agut, ranked one place above his teammate, battled past Hurkacz 7-6(6), 2-6, 7-6(5) in a high-quality thriller.

Later, Poland’s pair won the dead doubles to make the scoreline 2-1.

It is the second time Spain has made the decider of the team tournament, losing to Novak Djokovic’s Serbia at the inaugural event in 2020 when Rafael Nadal and Bautista Agut played the leading roles.

Nadal is in Melbourne this year warming up for the Australian Open, but Bautista Agut effortlessly stepped up as Spain’s No. 1 while Carreno Busta has proved an impressive No. 2.

The results: Semifinals: Spain bt Poland 2-1 {Pablo Carreno Busta bt Jan Zielinski 6-2, 6-1; Roberto Bautista Agut bt Hubert Hurkacz 7-6(6), 2-6, 7-6(5); Pedro Martinez & Albert Ramos-Vilonas lost to Szymon Walkow & Zielinski 6-4, 3-6, [6-10]}.

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