Russia’s ‘two-headed monster’ roars in ATP Cup demolition
The Russian invasion of Melbourne Park is almost complete - now an Australian Open beckons.
Russia's 'two-headed monster' of top-10 talents Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev demolished Italian rivals Matteo Berrettini and Fabio Fognini respectively to continue their unbeaten streaks this week and deliver Team Russia a comprehensive ATP Cup whitewash.
The scenes weren't as wild as 12 months ago, when Novak Djokovic delivered a historic win for Serbia in the competition's inaugural final to spark a raucous response from the partisan crowd inside Ken Rosewall Arena - but the small crowd inside Rod Laver Arena were treated to a genuine spectacle.
Because the emphatic nature of Medvedev's straight sets take-down of world No.10 Berrettini laid down a marker of what to expect at Melbourne Park in the next fortnight.
So severe was the thrashing that Italian captain Vincenzo Santopadre jokingly described the combined straight sets defeats - which ended the tie before the doubles - as 'a disaster'.
"Since the beginning of the competition we knew that Russia was a good team. I am not happy that we were part of today's disaster," Santopadre said.
Medvedev is on a 14-match winning streak, which includes sweeping the 2020 ATP Finals, and is in the form of his life as he looks to break his grand slam duck.
No Russian male has conquered the Australian Open since Marat Safin in 2005, but in Medvedev and Rublev the nation is poised to end that drought.
Certainly Medvedev couldn't have been more impressive against Berrettini, prevailing in just 80 minutes as he wiped out the Australian Open ninth seed.
Rublev had beaten Fognini just once in six attempts leading into this clash, but times have changed and this 23-year-old is also a force to be reckoned with.
Originally published as Russia's 'two-headed monster' roars in ATP Cup demolition