GROUP E continues 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 E TEAMS
In one of the more lob-sided groups, Italy should theoretically cruise through the group stage without too much troubles. In the men’s singles, Matteo Berrettini and Lorenzo Musetti are lining up and form a dangerous duo even minus Jannik Sinner. On the WTA side, Martina Trevisan is a top 30 singles but will likely back up as a doubles representative, with Lucia Bronzetti the second singles player. The depth between the four of them should see the nation get past Brazil and Norway easily.
Given the Brazilians have just two players inside the Top 100 – and only Beatriz Haddad Maia inside the top 20 – it will be an uphill battle to beat Italy. Though their top male player is Thiago Monteiro (65th), they do have a couple of strong doubles players in Rafael Matos and Luisa Stefani who are ranked 28th and 55th which gives the nation a chance in the mixed doubles. While Brazil stands little chance of upsetting Italy, the South Americans should still beat Norway comfortably.
Critics of the qualification method – going off the highest ranked singles players rather than overall depth – will point to Norway as a perfect example of this. World number four and ATP Finals runner-up Casper Ruud is the clear standout at fourth in the world, but the rest of the Norwegian side is outside the top 300. Viktor Durasovic (333rd) is the other males singles player, while in the women’s singles, Ulrikke Eikeri (375th) and Malene Helgo (394th). Ruud can only play in two matches, so it is doubtful Norway win a tie.
Clearly Italy should romp home in Group E without too many issues. It would be a shock to see either Brazil or Norway through to the Host City Finals.