SYDNEY — The United States beat Canada and defending champion Russia defeated France at the ATP Cup, with the the Americans taking a much easier route.
John Isner and Taylor Fritz beat their Canadian singles opponents and then clinched the match in doubles for a 3-0 win.
Isner beat Brayden Schnur 6-1, 6-4 in 66 minutes to give the Americans the early lead. Schnur was a late replacement for Denis Shapovalov, who withdrew from the opening singles match Sunday due to fatigue. The Canadian is recovering from having contracted COVID-19 at a recent tournament in the Middle East.
Fritz then came from a set down to beat No. 11-ranked Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-7 (6), 6-4, 6-4 and clinch the match before the Americans won the doubles 6-4, 6-4 over Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov.
Russia, meanwhile, needed the deciding doubles match to clinch victory over France.
Roman Safiullin beat Arthur Rinderknech of France 2-6, 7-5, 6-3 before No. 35-ranked Ugo Humbert evened the match with an upset 6-7 (5), 7-5, 7-6 (2) win over No. 2 Daniil Medvedev.
But Medvedev and Safiullin came back to beat two fresh opponents in the doubles – Fabrice Martin and Edouard Roger-Vasselin – 6-4, 6-4.
Both night matches went to the deciding doubles after Britain and Italy took early leads.
Daniel Evans beat Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff 6-1, 6-2 while Italy’s Jannik Sinner defeated Australia’s Max Purcell 6-1, 6-3.
But world No. 3 Alexander Zverev of Germany beat Cameron Norris 7-6 (2), 6-1 and Australia’s Alex de Minaur defeated Italy’s Matteo Berrettini 6-3, 7-6 (4) to send both matches to a doubles decider.
In the doubles, Britain’s Norris and Jamie Murray secured the tie with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Germany’s Zverev and Kevin Kravietz. Later, home favorites John Peers and Luke Saville held off Italy’s pairing of Berrettini and Simone Bolelli 6-3, 7-5.
Isner saved the only break point he faced against his Canadian opponent.
“I surprised myself with how well I played out here,” Isner said in his on-court interview. “You always work hard in the offseason, but you never really know what could happen in that first match of the year.”
Isner broke twice in the first set and used his strong serve to capitalize on the advantage. The American hit 10 aces and won 46% of his return points.
“I actually really like this court. It’s not too fast, which I prefer. It gives me a little time to swing out on my shots being so big. That helps me out a lot,” Isner said.
On the opening day Saturday, Argentina and Spain both cruised to 3-0 victories over Georgia and Chile, respectively. Serbia, despite playing without No. 1 Novak Djokovic, beat Norway 2-1 and Poland took advantage of Stefanos Tsitsipas’ injury-enforced absence in singles to beat Greece 2-1.
The 16 teams are divided into four groups, with the winners of each group advancing to the semifinals on Jan. 7 and 8. The final is scheduled for Jan. 9.