Greek stars reach final four
GREECE might only have a combined two players inside the Top 100 from both the ATP and WTA Rankings, but that pair was able to help book the Mediterranean nation’s spot in the United Cup semi-finals. Both Stefanos Tsitsipas and Maria Sakkari were able to win their respective singles against Croatian opponents, then team up to get over the line in mixed doubles at RAC Arena, and prepare for the trip to Sydney.
The tie was unsurprisingly tight, with Croatia having the depth that Greece did not have, but the Greeks having the two Top 10 stars. Croatia got off to an important lead with Donna Vekic crushing the much lower ranked Despina Papamichail 6-2 6-0 to finish the United Cup undefeated in singles. Tsitsipas stepped up for the number one men’s singles and after dismantling the talented Borna Coric 6-0 in the opening set, was made to work for it after that, dropping the second in a tiebreaker before picking up and securing the win, 6-0 6-7 7-5.
Following Tsitsipas’ triumph, it was compatriot Sakkari’s turn as she took on top Croatian, Petra Martic. Continuing her unbeaten form, Sakkari won 6-3 6-3 to move Greece to within one win of a semi-final spot. Ensuring the tie would need to go to mixed doubles, Croatia’s Borna Gojo knocked off Greek teenager – who was the hero in the final group match – Stefanos Sakellaridis – in straight sets, 6-4 6-2. With the tie at 2-2, the stage was set for a thrilling mixed doubles.
Sakkari and Tsitsipas took their places against Martic and Gojo. Though far from easy, the Greek pair was sensational on serve, winning 88 per cent of first serve points and producing eight aces. Like in their singles matches, the two maintained their unbeaten mixed doubles streak, and this time sent Greece into the final four.
“I am so happy and proud of this team, I just cannot put it in words,” Sakkari said post-match. “Coming in here, it’s the first tournament of the year, you don’t know what kind of form you are in, but I think we saw that we are in pretty good form!”
Tsitsipas also was thrilled with the result, and being able to advance from Perth to reach the last knockout stage of the tournament filled him with pride.
“I’m happy we pulled this through. I’m proud of the team,” Tsitsipas said. “Fighters is what defines us. That first big step we took here in Perth is going to remain memorable. I’m happy we started in Perth, I wished for it… Let me just say, we might be in Sydney, but our heart remains here.”
AROUND THE COURTS
Up in Brisbane, Poland ground out a 3-2 win over Italy with a similar result to that of Greece-Croatia, going down to the mixed doubles. Italy was able to stay alive in the tie with Matteo Berrettini pulling off a hard-fought win over Hubert Hurkacz which followed on from Lorenzo Musetti‘s earlier crushing 6-1 6-1 triumph over Daniel Michalski.
After Polish world number one Iga Swiatek had taken care of Martina Trevisan, it was up to compatriot Magda Linette to level the scores. She had an even more impressive win over Lucia Bronzetti 6-1 6-2, sending the match to a deciding mixed doubles. The two big names in Swiatek and Hurkacz took on doubles specialist Camilla Rosatello, and Lorenzo Musetti, and made light work of them, cruising to a 6-1 6-2 victory.
Poland advanced through to the semi-finals automatically to face the United States, while Italy would also qualify as the fourth semi-finalist, and will now face Greece tomorrow in Sydney. Speaking of the United States, the American nation continued to stamp their authority on the United Cup with a comprehensive 4-1 win over Great Britain.
They did not have it all their own way with a few hiccups in matches, but managed to get it done off the back of Jessica Pegula winning both her singles, and then mixed doubles with Taylor Fritz. Pegula crushed top Brit Harriet Dart 6-2 6-0, with her number two women’s partner Madison Keys coming back from a shock first set loss to Katie Swan, to post a 2-6 6-3 6-4 victory at Ken Rosewall Arena.
In-form British talent Cameron Norrie maintained his unbeaten streak with another upset win, this time taking down world number nine Taylor Fritz in three sets. In a high octane contest, Norrie won 6-4 5-7 6-4 to ensure his team got on the board. Unfortunately for Great Britain, Frances Tiafoe‘s equivalent three-set win of 3-6 7-5 6-3 over Daniel Evans ensured qualification to the semi-finals. In the mixed doubles, Pegula and Fritz defeated Dart and Evans 6-4 6-4 to make it the most emphatic tie win over the City Finals.