China finds Czech mate in clean sweep

CHINA stunned Group E’s top ranked nation in Czech Republic with a 3-0 clean sweep over higher ranked opponents. Though the Asian nation was regarded as a dark horse coming into the tournament, few could have predicted that China would breeze past one of the tournament favourites.

Zhizhen Zhang had the first big challenge up against rising star Jiri Lehecka, with teh 22-year-old now ranked 31 in the world. Though Zhang himself is a top 100 player, the 27-year-old world number 58 was still well and truly the underdog.

After Lehecka got through the first set in a tight one 7-5, it looked like the Czech was on top, but Zhang had other ideas. A critical turning point in the second set was Zhang breaking Lehecka’s powerful serve and going on to not face a break point. Though the Chinese representative only served at 38 per cent efficiency, he did not drop a point on his first serve, and only dropped six for the whole set.

Lehecka stepped up again in the third set to get his serve back into action and even broke Zhang once again as he had in the first set, but his opponent incredibly broke him twice to again win the set, and the match, 5-7 6-4 6-4. Lehecka actually won two more points than Zhang in the match, but China took home the win.

The second singles match was tipped to be a beauty between China’s rising star Qinwen Zheng and the well accomplished Marketa Vondrousova. Given the latter has achieved quite a lot including a Roland Garros runner-up and then last year a Wimbledon title, she was backed in to knock off the 15th ranked Chinese talent who at 21 was predicted for big things.

Zheng stands at 178cm and uses her taller than average frame to produce some powerful ground strokes and big serves. That was on display in the first serve as she race away to a 6-1 lead. Inconsistency struck though, as Vondrousova responded with a rock solid second set to level the scores with a 6-2 result.

Despite the level pegging, Zheng picked herself up again, and despite not serving an ace – and only nailing five of her 16 serves in, she won 75 per cent of her service points, then broke her Czech opponent three times en route to victory in one hour and 48 minutes.

Incredibly, the same four players took the court fo the dead rubber doubles, but the Chinese duo was not done yet, crushing Vondrousova and Lehecka 6-1 6-2 in incredible fashion. It moved the nation – which is sure to at least get one match against Serbia – into the box seat for advancement to the knockout stage.


Poland officially eliminated Brazil from the United Cup, with world number one Iga Swiatek crushing South American Beatriz Haddad Maia 6-2 6-2, while Hubert Hurkacz came back from a shock first set loss to Thiago Seyboth Wild to win, 6-7 6-2 6-3.

Netherlands also advanced past Norway as expected, with Demi Schuurs and Wesley Koolhof winning the deciding doubles for the Dutch against Casper Ruud and Ulrikke Eikeri, 7-6 7-5. Earlier in the tie, Arantxa Rus proved too strong for the lowly ranked Malene Helgo 7-6 6-1, while Rudd took care of Tallon Griekspoor, 6-3 6-4.

In the third match, Germany closed out a 2-1 victory over Italy thanks to Alexander Zverev and Angelique Kerber pairing up in the mix doubles and winning 6-3 6-0 over Lorenzo Sonego and Angelica Moratelli. It was a dominant day for Zverev who also did not face a break point in his singles match against Sonego to win in a hard-fought three set match, 6-7 6-3 6-4. Jasmine Paolini had knocked off Kerber in the women’s singles, 6-4 7-5 to force the decider.


Several nations enter the fray today with Canada taking on the lowest ranked nation at the event in Chile from 10:30am in Sydney. That is the only play in action on the eastern side of the country, with Felix Auger-Aliassime rested from singles to play doubles alongside Leylah Fernandez, as Steven Diez steps up to take on Chile number one singles player, Nicolas Jarry who will pair up with women’s number one singles talent Daniela Seguel.

Perth is scheduled for a couple of blockbusters, as Great Britain heads back to the court to take on the United States. Katie Boulter and Cameron Norrie take on Jessica Pegula and Taylor Fritz in a bid to make it two wins from two games. The two top 10 ranked Americans loom as one of the teams to beat in the tournament however.

Later on, China clashes with Serbia as the former hopes to secure its spot in the next round, with Zheng heavily favoured against Olga Danilovic, though Zhang is unlikely to do too much damage to Novak Djokovic which means the tie is set to head to the doubles.

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