ATP Cup: Japan Outclass Uruguay to Make Statement, France Beat Chile
Japan, without their 'best' players, trumped Uruguay as France got the better of Chile at the ATP Cup.
Yoshihito Nishioka and Benoit Paire (Photo Credit: Reuters)
Perth/Brisbane: Yoshihito Nishioka thrashed higher-ranked Pablo Cuevas with a 6-0, 6-1 rout, as injury-hit Japan made a statement against Uruguay on the second day of the inaugural ATP Cup Saturday.
Japan suffered major blows before the 24-team event with the withdrawals of injured star Kei Nishikori and world number 81 Yasutaka Uchiyama, their third best player.
But the strong performances of Nishioka and Go Soeda will have served notice for opponents in Group B, much to the delight of the sparse Perth crowd mainly comprised of Japanese fans.
Japan have already clinched the tie ahead of the doubles.
World number 73 Nishioka put on a masterclass over a dispirited Cuevas, but was helped by his lacklustre opponent who did not hit a winner during a grim first set.
The left-handed Nishioka caused the world number 45 problems with an array of menacing slices mixed with swift movement around the court.
Cuevas finally hit the scoreboard in the sixth game of the second set but Nishioka soon closed out the one-sided contest in just 54 minutes.
"I don't have much power compared to other players, so I have to use my footwork," 24-year-old Nishioka said.
"I think last year I improved, so this year I will try to be a little more aggressive and use my strengths."
Martin Cuevas, Pablo's younger brother, fared only slightly better in the earlier match after Soeda, ranked 121, put Japan ahead with a comfortable 6-1, 6-3 victory in 76 minutes.
The 35-year-old was too consistent for world number 523 Cuevas, who was broken three times in the first set.
Soeda had replaced world number 13 Nishikori, who withdrew from the tournament and the Australian Open with an elbow injury.
Cuevas put up more of a fight in the second set but appeared hampered by a hamstring issue and received medical treatment after the seventh game.
"I was really nervous in the beginning but I had a plan and it worked well," Soeda said.
Rafael Nadal-led Spain play Georgia in the later Group B tie.
FRENCH TEAM PRAISES CAPTAIN SIMON'S ROLE
French duo Gael Monfils and Benoit Paire said having active player Gilles Simon as team captain gave them the winning edge in the ATP Cup against Chile on Saturday.
Paire opened with a tough 6-7 (3/7), 6-3, 6-3 win over Nicolas Jarry in Brisbane before Monfils triumphed 6-3, 7-5 over Cristian Garin.
The Chileans salvaged some pride after combining to beat Nicolas Mahut and Edouard Roger-Vasselin in the doubles 7-5, 6-2.
France is captained by world number 55 Simon, and both Paire and Monfils credited the 35-year-old with helping them overcome their opponents.
"He was top 10, so he's still playing. He has a lot of things to say about the opponent, about my game, so it's good," Paire said.
Simon reached a career-high world ranking of six in 2009 but is not playing the ATP Cup because of the depth of French men's tennis.
Six of his countrymen are currently ranked higher than him in singles, while Mahut is ranked third in doubles and Roger-Vasselin 16th.
Monfils said he talked with Simon after Garin began to gain the advantage in the second set and changed his tactics as a result.
The world number 10 broke Garin's opening service game and held the first set comfortably as the Chilean struggled to make any impact.
The Frenchman lost concentration early in the second and dropped his serve as Garin went ahead 4-2 and looked like forcing a decider.
"He had a very flat backhand which surprised me a little bit," Monfils said.
"You can't go really heavy on it and he was not moving so much, and with Gilles we figured out that we needed to change the height a little bit. We figured out that we should change slightly the tactics."
Monfils then regrouped and broke back, breaking again to lead 6-5 before serving out the match in one hour and 20 minutes.
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