Russia hammer Australia at ATP Cup

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Australia's hopes of making the ATP Cup semi-finals have evaporated in a comprehensive beating from defending champions Russia.

Cup debutant James Duckworth suffered a 7-6 (8-6) 6-4 loss to lowly ranked Roman Safiullan before world No.2 and reigning US Open champion Daniil Medvedev sealed the tie for Russia with a 6-4 6-2 win over Australian No.1 Alex de Minaur.

The Russian pair then returned to secure the clean sweep, beating John Peers and Luke Saville 7-6 (9-7) 3-6 10-6 to snuff out Australia's last remaining hopes of progressing.

Russia improved to 2-0 after beating France in their competition opener to all-but confirm their place in the semi-finals, while Australia are 1-1 having upset Italy on Sunday.

Duckworth's straight-sets loss to the 167th-ranked Safiullan was particularly deflating for the tournament hosts.

Coming off his best season yet in 2021, Duckworth was unable to reprise the tennis that has propelled the 29-year-old into the top 50 for the first time.

He squandered a big first-set lead before falling 7-6 (8-6) 6-4 in the opening singles rubber at Sydney's Bank Qudos Arena as the world No.49's first serve deserted him under pressure.

"It was difficult for me not to play against Italy, I was really disappointed to miss that one," Duckworth, who withdrew from the Italy tie with a hip complaint, said.

"It was great to play today having my coach, Wayne (Arthurs) and Lleyton Hewitt there and all the boys on the bench and the home support was great, I just wish I could have performed a bit better."

De Minaur always faced an uphill battle repeating his weekend heroics against Italy's Wimbledon runner-up Matteo Berrettini.

Seemingly stung by his shock three-set loss to Ugo Humbert in his own season-opener, Medvedev played brilliantly to see off de Minaur in 79 minutes.

He admitted the Russian had "baited" him into overplaying at certain stages.

"It's a tricky one because you've got to find that balance between being too aggressive and not being too passive," he said.

"At the end of the day these are the matches I want to be playing and, sure, it didn't go my way but you live and you learn."

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