Medvedev blunts Isner's service as Russia advances

Perth, January 5 (AFP) World number five Daniil Medvedev held John Isner in a near-perfect victory in straight sets in the ATP Cup on Sunday.

The US Open finalist hit 24 winners and made only two unforced errors in the 6-3, 6-1 loss in an hour to ensure that Russia closed the tie against the United States before the doubles.

Undefeated Russia leads Group D, while the United States, without victories, is out of the question for the knockout stages in Sydney. The world number 19 Isner has fought in Perth. He lost his first game against the young Norwegian Casper Ruud in three sets.

Medvedev overwhelmed Isner, who constantly failed his booming service, and broke the imposing American four times.

I was very afraid of his service, so I knew I had to wait for my chances. I was really good coming back, he said.

Medvedev even surpassed Isner, who for the past four years has been the ATP's end-of-the-year leader.

If you ask me before the game, I don't think it's possible, he said.

I was really stable in my service and there was only one service game in which I was tight.

Earlier in the tie, world number 17 Karen Khachanov resisted an early storm by Taylor Fritz to win 3-6, 7-5, 6-1 in one hour and 51 minutes.

Fritz, 22, started with a series of background shots and gained absolute dominance when he broke into the fifth game of the second set.

But the world number 32 could not consolidate and became tentative. Khachanov threw himself to level the match.

Fritz's spiral continued in a third unilateral set that lasted only 29 minutes. Khachanov gave credit to the captain of Russia, Marat Safin, for helping his change.

He simply told me to continue and break it, which is what happened, he said.

Ruud, a 21-year-old emerging young man, continued his giant murder career with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over world number 12 Fabio Fognini, before Italy recovered to defeat Norway in the Group's previous draw D.

Ruud tied the tie in just 66 minutes and then backed with Viktor Durasovic in the decisive doubles only to be thwarted by Fognini and Simone Bolelli, who prevailed 6-3, 7-6 (7/3).

Italy joins Norway's surprise packages with a 1-1 record after being swept by Russia in their first game on Friday.

Ruud, whose father Christian is the captain of Norway, has led his team's amazing career, starting the season spectacularly after bothering Fognini and Isner in their first victories over the top 20 players.

Coming here and beating two of the top 20 players at the beginning of the year is excellent for my confidence, he said.

Stefano Travaglia achieved his first victory of the season in the previous single game after comfortably beating Durasovic 6-1, 6-1 in 56 minutes. The 28-year-old represents Italy for the first time after replacing world number eight Matteo Berrettini, who retired from the tournament due to an abdominal injury. (AFP) APA APA