Italy clean sweeps Norway into Brisbane final
ITALY has made light work of lowly ranked Norway in the United Cup, with Matteo Berrettini downing world number three Casper Ruud to ensure a clean slate heading into the finals. Given the importance placed on the fourth semi-finalist to have the best overall record, Italy’s 5-0 effort against Norway will go a long way if they do lose to Poland in the Brisbane final.
Though Norway was never expected to win a match other than Ruud’s singles, the European nation battled hard throughout the tie, but was unable to make a dint into the Italian machine. Berrettini took out Ruud 6-4 6-4 on the final day of the group stage to secure Italy’s place in the City Final.
“The goal is to have the longest run possible,” Berrettini said post-match. “It’s super nice to play with my teammates. We know each other since a really young age. It’s crazy and now we’re representing Italy. It’s such an honour for us.
“The other day at dinner we were talking about when we were 12 playing against each other. It’s super nice and I’m really happy. It’s the first time obviously playing with the girls and I think it’s special, different, maybe a little bit more stressful. But we’re enjoying [it] a lot.”
After Ruud defeated Berrettini twice in 2022, the Italian hit back in the latest edition, with his powerful forehand in the hot and sticky Brisbane conditions causing issues for one of the Tour’s most improved players.
“Casper, he’s a super-solid player, he improved so much in the past year. So I knew that I had to serve my best,” Berrettini said. “We know each other pretty well, so we’re kind of always studying what we’re doing and I knew that I had to serve like that. One thing is knowing and one thing is doing it, but I’m really glad it worked out pretty well and happy.”
Italy continued its successful tie with Lucia Bronzetti winning 6-2 7-5 after a scare from Ulrikke Eikeri in the second set. Though the win was already assured, Italy capped off a perfect clash with a mixed doubles win. Camilla Rosatello and Lorenzo Musetti defeated Eikeri and Viktor Durasovic in straight sets, 7-6 6-2.
AROUND THE COURTS
Italy will take on Poland after a nail-biting performance on day six of the event. Polish singles duo Hubert Hurkacz and Magda Linette both won their respective matches against Stan Wawrinka and Jil Teichmann to seal the result. Hurkacz had a hard two-set slog against three-time Grand Slam winner Wawrinka, but got past him 7-6 6-4, before Linette fought back from a set down to eliminate Teichmann, 5-7 6-4 6-1. It meant Poland defeated the most recent Billie Jean King Cup winners, even though the Swiss bounced back to win the consolation doubles tie and force a 3-2 result.
Over in Perth, Croatia sealed its place in the City Final thanks to Borna Gojo‘s win over Adrian Mannarino, grinding out a three-set victory. The Croatian needed two tiebreaks to get up in the clash, eventually saluting, 7-6 3-6 7-6. Early in the women’s singles, Caroline Garcia kept her nation’s hopes alive in a tough straight sets win, defeating Petra Martic, 7-6 6-4. In the mixed doubles, Jessika Ponchet and Edouard Roger-Vasselin took out the win, albeit in consolation fashion.
Croatia will now face Greece who comfortably took out the tie over Belgium, winning all three matches on day six. Maria Sakkari was able to claim the win after a 6-1 7-5 victory over Elise Mertens, which followed on from teenager Stefanos Sakellaridis‘ monumental upset over Zizou Bergs. The 18-year-old won 5-7 6-1 6-3 despite being ranked outside the Top 800. To finish off the tie, top singles ranked talents, Sakkari and Stefanos Tsitsipas won 6-3 6-2 over Kirsten Flipkens and Michael Geerts for a 4-1 overall victory.
Meanwhile in Sydney, the United States clean swept Germany to take a dominant position into the City Finals. Already leading 2-0, the Americans won all the three matches on the second day of the tie, with Jessica Pegula and Frances Tiafoe winning their respective singles matches, then teaming up to salute in the mixed doubles. Pegula knocked off Laura Siegemund 6-3 6-2 before Frances Tiafoe won 7-5 6-4 over Oscar Otte. Three of those four players then returned to the court, with Pegula and Tiafoe grinding out a narrow 6-7 6-4 10-7 win over Siegemund and Daniel Altmaier.
The closest tie of the day was the only consolation tie, as Australia won on home soil over Spain. Tied at 1-1 after the first day, the Australians – and mainly Jason Kubler – came to the rescue. Though Spain went one-up thanks to world number 193 Jessica Bouzas Maneiro‘s triumph over young Aussie Olivia Gadecki 6-2 6-2, Kubler levelled the tie again with another upset victory, this time over Albert Ramos-Vinolas. In the doubles, the more experienced pairing of Samantha Stosur and John Peers won out, defeating Bouzas Maneiro and David Vega Hernandez, 6-2 6-3.