Home of the Hellenes: Greece suffer narrow defeat to Australia in ATP Cup group stage

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The battle Greek-Australians have been anticipating since last year’s epic clash, last night Greece faced Australia in the ATP Cup group stage round.

The group stage consisted of three matches: A single’s match between John Millman and Michail Pervolarakis, a singles match between Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alex De Minaur, and a double’s match featuring Tsitsipas and Pervolarakis against John Peers and Luke Saville.

John Millman vs Michail Pervolarakis

Kicking off the match-up was a duel between Australia’s John Millman and Greece’s Michail Pervolarakis. The two faced up against each other in last year’s ATP Cup, with Millman narrowly taking the win in that match.

Millman started off strong against his Greek opponent, earning a break point early in the set to extend his lead by three-games. Unfortunately for team Greece, Pervolarakis wasn’t able to break Miillman, even after a long tiring rally in the sixth-game, giving Millman the first set 6-2.

In between sets, Greek music filled the stadium as people were seen dancing in the crowds. A large Greek-Australian population, the stadium was filled with passionate Australian and Greek fans.

As the second set began, history seemed to repeat itself to the benefit of Australia as Millman managed to take a break point early in the second set, increasing his lead over Pervolarakis. A steady show of talent between both players as the set played out, Pervolarakis’ shots however failed to land in crucial moments.

Photo: Bill Roumeliotis/Supplied.

Down to the final set with Millman to serve, Pervolarakis took an early, encouraging lead, appearing as though he would break Millman to potentially tie up the game. Despite having a 30-0 lead, Millman came back to deuce Pervolarakis and ultimately win the set, and the match.

Pervolarakis hit 29 unforced errors and failed to land any of his four break points. Millman boasted an incredible 58 percent successful first serve rate.

“It’s nice to get a win and relive some of the memories last year,” Millman said after the match.

Stefanos Tsitsipas vs Alex De Minaur

Tsitsipas secured a break point early in the first set, establishing dominance over his Australian opponent and showing he’ll be a strong force in this year’s summer tournament. This lead was almost short-lived, however, with De Minaur leading the game 40-15 on Tsitsipas’ serve. The Greek ended up coming back to defend his three-game lead.

A very sweaty Tsitsipas brushed away his golden locks to focus on the match at hand. Game 5 saw Alex De Minaur come out with some young, fiery energy. Two excellent serve returns saw the Australian take a break point over Tsitsipas, narrowing the gap to 3-2.

Stefanos Tsitsipas claims the first set against Alex De Minaur. Photo: Nine’s World of Sports

In a match you had to see to believe, Tsitsipas rose from the fire and put increased pressure on the youngster. An unforced error by De Minaur saw Tsitispas secure his second break point of the match.

The two players rode out the rest of the set, landing majority of their serves. Tsitsipas appeared to have keen eyes on the outside line, forcing De Minaur to stretch out on more than one occasion. Tsitsipas won the first set 6-3.

De Minaur started off strong in the second set earning his first two aces of the match in game 1 and 3 respectively. Tsitsipas levelled the game soon after, also claiming an ace to his name.

Alex De Minaur looked as though he might claim the second set early, with Tsitsipas making a detrimental unforced error. De Minaur with the advantage and Tsitsipas at breaking point, the Greek held out and managed to bring the set to an even 5-5.

Bad news came for team Australia in De Minaur’s final serve, with Tsistsipas scoring a crucial break point at the cusp of the match. A silky smooth finish saw Tsistipas finish the match with 2 straight sets.

READ MORE: Stefanos Tsitsipas crushes Australian young gun Alex De Minaur in ATP Cup

Stefanos Tsitsipas and Michail Pervolarakis vs John Peers and Luke Saville

Down to the decider.

It was a rocky first set for the Greeks in the doubles match. Coming up against John Peers and Luke Saville, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Michail Pervolarakis were tired and worn out from playing in their respective previous matches.

However, with a crucial win on the line, the Greeks came out fighting just as they would normally.

Their strong spirit wasn’t enough to prevent Peers and Saville from taking an early break point and hoisting a confident lead throughout the first set. The two Australians worked as one as they defeated the Greeks 6-3.

Coaching from the sidelines certainly added some more strategy and encouragement for both sides of the net. Former World No.1 Lleyton Hewitt throwing in the occasional ‘finish them’ and Tsitsipas’ father providing words of motivation brought new eyes to the racket-and-ball game.

A crucial opening in the second set saw the Greeks earn their first break point of the match, bringing an early set-lead. Everything from cheeky chips to cross-court hits was brought out by the Australian side. A truly entertaining match, the Greeks managed to hold onto their lead and bring the match into a decider set.

The Australians pulled away early in the deciding set, causing nervousness for Team Greece. A four point lead meant the Greeks were forced to break the Australians in the coming sets, or face elimination.

While Greece managed to tighten the gap, a poor shot by Pervolarakis saw the devastated Greeks shake the hands of their Australian competitors. Australia won 3-6, 6-4, 10-5.

Greece will now face Spain tomorrow in a highly anticipated match between Stefanos Tsitsipas and Rafael Nadal.

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