2022 United Cup preview: Group A
GROUP A kicks off our 2022 United Cup preview series leading up the brand new event taking place across three Australian cities. Group A and Group F are in Perth, with Group B and Group E in Brisbane, and Group C and Group D are in Sydney. There are 18 teams battling it out for ultimate glory in the first ever extended five-match men’s and women’s combined team event.
HOW THE NATIONS WERE DECIDED
The first 12 nations were picked based on their highest ranked player, both from an ATP and WTA standpoint. That means the nations of six highest ATP ranked players who nominated, and the six highest WTA ranked players who nominated earned spots in the event. From there, the remaining six nations were based off a combined ATP and WTA ranking to complete the field of 18.
WHAT IS THE FORMAT?
The event features five matches per ‘tie’ with four singles and a doubles, the same format as a Davis Cup and Billie Jean King Cup. The number one male singles players face off, as do the number one female singles players. Then it’s the number two male singles players, and then number two female singles players. Finally, the fifth match is a mixed doubles match between two chosen players from each nation, likely the top ranked talents.
GROUP A TEAMS
Boasting an elite Top 10 male and female singles player in each of the ATP and WTA, Greece will be favoured to advance to the next stage. Stefanos Tsitsipas and Maria Sakkari should win both their singles and will be set up nicely in the doubles. Naturally the second singles players in Michail Pervolarakis (448th in the world) and Despina Papamichail (156th) drop off considerably.
Belgium is a real danger nation for Greece, with Elise Mertens coming off a WTA Finals doubles title, and is far more experienced in that format compared to Sakkari. The Belgians also have Kirsten Flipkens as a doubles specialist as well. While Tsitsipas should have no problems with David Goffin, Belgium would be fancied in both second singles. Zizou Bergs (138th in the world) and Alison Van Uytvanck (54th) are more than capable against their respected opponents.
The lowest ranked nation from an ATP singles qualification, Grigor Dimitrov (28th in the world) is the standout player. He will likely have to do a lot of the heavy lifting, with Dimitar Kuzmanov and Erika Andreeva either side of 200th in the world. The women’s has less depth with the 90th ranked Viktoriya Tomova the top singles player, well ahead of Isabella Shinikova (286th) the next best. Hard to see them beating either of the above nations.
Greece should have enough to get it done, but Belgium is a huge threat, especially with the greater depth at the second singles players, and doubles.