USA claims inaugural United Cup
IN yet another whitewash, the United States have claimed the inaugural United Cup, downing Italy comprehensively 4-0. Though the deciding match ended up being the tightest of the lot, the American side was able to triumph and bring home the silverware. Despite Italy making the most of a second chance after losing in the City Final, the Europeans could not go all the way in the Sydney-based team event.
Despite missing Top 10 talent Coco Gauff from its best possible lineup, the Americans were stacked with Taylor Fritz, Frances Tiafoe, Jessica Pegula and Madison Keys leading the way. The separate ATP and WTA entities are playing off to remain in the World Group for the Davis Cup and Billie Jean King Cup respectively, but coming together, they combined well, and did not drop a match in the final – and only two for the entire tournament on their way to the title.
In the final, Fritz had to shake off a serious challenge from Italian Matteo Berrettini and grind out two tiebreak victories – as he had done against Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz in the semi-final – to close out the tie 3-0. Earlier in the day, world number three Pegula was too strong for Martina Trevisan, while Tiafoe was a set up before his opponent Lorenzo Musetti had to retire.
“It’s great. It’s amazing for the team to win this event. We came in with really high hopes, or at least I did, for the event,” Fritz said post-match. “I was really happy to be in that position to clinch the match.”
As soon as a Berrettini baseline shot went long, Fritz turned to his team, who mobbed him on court to celebrate the victory, tackling him to the ground in celebration. Though there was still to be another singles – which Keys won over Lucia Bronzetti – the Americans had sealed the victory.
“Just the emotions when you win and everyone comes running at you, it’s amazing,” Fritz said. “I don’t know if you saw the replay but Frances basically headbutted me!”
While Fritz and Pegula ended their United Cup campaigns with 4-1 records from their five matches, both Keys and Tiafoe went undefeated, kick-starting 2023 on the right not as their team complied a whopping 22-2 record at the event.
All four will prepare for the Australian Open in a week’s time, with Pegula and Keys opting to pull out of the Adelaide International WTA 250 event, while both Fritz and Tiafoe will head to the Kooyong Classic this week as a last-minute touch up ahead of the Grand Slam at Melbourne Park.