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TopCourt: Moutet’s Special Slice Tips

  • Posted: Dec 30, 2022

TopCourt: Moutet’s Special Slice Tips

Frenchman currently sits at career-high No. 51 in Pepperstone ATP Rankings

Corentin Moutet ended his 2022 season in style.

Just two months after reaching the fourth round of the US Open for the first time, the 23-year-old Frenchman notched impressive three-set wins against Borna Coric and Cameron Norrie to reach the third round at November’s Rolex Paris Masters. That run propelled him to a career-high No. 51 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.

Now, the entertaining lefty joins TopCourt to demonstrate the sort of shots and technique that have enabled him to neutralize bigger hitters and turn a game of power into a game of chess. From his experiences leaving home as a young teen to chase his dream of becoming a pro, to questioning his desire to continue the pursuit, Moutet’s journey is a valuable lesson in perseverance.

Technique: Moutet teaches two of his most masterful shots — the backhand slice and the forehand lob. In his backhand slice class, Corentin teaches you how to keep the ball low and angling away from his opponent. In his forehand lob class, he shares how he disrupts taller opponents by changing the speed and rhythm of a point.

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Drills: Moutet brings three of his favourite drills to his TopCourt class. The first focuses on neutralising a point, the second on dictating a point with your forehand, and the third on executing points at the net.

Follow Moutet’s Tutorials at

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United Cup Day 3 Preview: Nadal, Swiatek Open Campaigns

  • Posted: Dec 30, 2022

United Cup Day 3 Preview: Nadal, Swiatek Open Campaigns

Zverev makes competitive return

Day 3 of the United Cup features two of its biggest stars, 22-time Grand Slam singles champion Rafael Nadal and WTA No.1 Iga Swiatek and 

Both players are coming off memorable 2022 seasons, both on and off the court. And they will be challenged, they say, to move forward after those successes. Nadal — who won the Australian Open and Roland Garros this past year — and his wife, Maria, welcomed their first child, Rafael Nadal Perello, back in October.

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Nadal, 36, now the all-time leader with 22 men’s major singles titles, took a break after losing to Frances Tiafoe in the fourth round of the US Open. He was asked about his new role of father.

“Well,” he said, smiling, “the first event I played as a father without the baby with me, I lost [Paris] first round. Second event, travelling with the baby, I was out of the [Nitto ATP Finals] group stage. At the end I won my last match, but I need to keep improving, no? Easy.”

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Getting enough sleep hasn’t been a problem, he said.

“We have some help.” Nadal explained. “No problem at all. Just I need to organise a little bit my life, as everybody needs to do when you have a child in your life. I’m excited to play this competition for the first time. Then let’s see. Let’s try our best and let’s see how far we can go.”

Nadal plays the first match of Saturday’s second session at Sydney’s Ken Rosewall Arena against Cameron Norrie of Great Britain. They have a recent but extensive ATP Head2Head history, and it’s been all Rafa, 4-0. They played three times in 2021, twice at majors, and most recently at 2022 Acapulco, when Nadal won 6-4, 6-4.

Swiatek ascended to the top of the Hologic WTA Tour rankings on April 4. Thirty-nine weeks later, she’s still there.

“For sure when Ash [Barty] retired, I felt mixed emotions,” Swiatek said of the woman she replaced atop the rankings. “At first I felt like I wasn’t sure if this is kind of my place to be. Ash, she seemed like a huge role model for everybody in terms of her behavior on court but also off court. She really set the bar pretty high, so I need to show it to people but also show it to myself that I’m in the right place.

“Hopefully maybe this week we are going to be able to meet and I’m going to say it straight to her. But she really inspired me to work harder and her different game style made me realize that there is always room for improvement.”

Group Standings

Like Nadal, Swiatek leads off the late session at Brisbane’s Pat Rafter Arena against Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan. Swiatek won their only meeting last fall in straight sets in Ostrava. She is “super proud” of herself for the accomplishments of the past year — Swiatek won half of the Grand Slams and WTA 1000 events (six of 12) — but forgive her if she doesn’t want to look back every time she has a press conference.

“At the beginning of this year, I’m going to try to kind of cut off everything that happened last year and just focus on the future,” she said. “Because I feel like I can take a lot of experience from these tournaments last year, but I don’t want to really hold on to that too much, because I want to go forward and kind of focus on my next goals.”

A new team will open play in each of the six United Cup groups on Day 3, with one of the two other teams from each group getting two days’ rest. In addition to Poland and Spain, Saturday will see tournament debuts for Belgium, Germany, Norway and Croatia.

Joining Nadal in Sydney, Alexander Zverev will lead Team Germany against the Czech Republic as he plays his first tour-level match since suffering an ankle injury in the Roland Garros semi-finals. In Perth, Belgium faces Bulgaria before Croatia takes on Argentina. Brazil and Norway open play in Sydney, before Swiatek takes the court for Poland.

United Cup: Day 3 Order of play (local time)

Sydney, Ken Rosewall Arena

Germany vs. Czech Republic (Group C)
Alexander Zverev (GER) vs. Jiri Lehecka (CZE), 10 a.m.
Jule Niemeier (GER) vs. Marie Bouzkova, to follow

Spain vs. Great Britain (Group D)
Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs. Cameron Norrie (GBR), 3:30 p.m.
Nuria Parrizas Diaz (ESP) vs. Katie Swan (GBR), to follow

Perth, RAC Arena

Belgium vs. Bulgaria (Group A)
Alison Van Uytvanck (BEL) vs. Isabella Shinikova (BUL), 10 a.m.
David Goffin (BEL) vs. Grigor Dimitrov (BUL), to follow

Croatia vs. Argentina (Group F)
Donna Vekic (CRO) vs. Maria Carle (ARG), 3:30 p.m.
Borna Coric (CRO) vs. Francisco Cerundolo (ARG), to follow

Brisbane, Pat Rafter Arena

Brazil vs. Norway (Group E)
Beatriz Haddad Maia (BRA) vs. Ulrikke Eikeri (NOR), 10 a.m.
Felipe Meligeni Alves (BRA) vs. Viktor Durasovic (NOR), to follow

Poland vs. Kazakhstan (Group B)
Iga Swiatek (POL) vs. Yulia Putintseva (KAZ), 3:30 p.m.
Daniel Michalski (POL) vs. Timofey Skatov (KAZ), to follow

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Uniting Roles At The United Cup: Dimitrov, Flipkens Stepping Up As Playing Captains

  • Posted: Dec 30, 2022

Uniting Roles At The United Cup: Dimitrov, Flipkens Stepping Up As Playing Captains

Six nations at the mixed-teams event have playing captains.

Mastery of multitasking could hold the key for success at the inaugural United Cup.

Six of the 18 nations in the mixed-teams event are led by ‘playing captains’, including four in Perth. Team Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov is one of the stars trying to balance supporting their teammates with their own match preparation in the Western Australian capital.

“It’s a little different; I’m not gonna lie,” said eight-time ATP Tour champion Dimitrov. On Thursday he supported his teammate Isabella Shinikova courtside as she took on Team Greece’s Despina Papamichail, while simultaneously preparing for the following match on the RAC Arena schedule, his own singles clash against Stefanos Tsitsipas.

“I was in and out [of the team box],” said Dimitrov, who does have previous experience as a playing captain from the 2020 ATP Cup. “I had to eat some and rest some and tie my shoes and prepare. Usually, I have all that time to do things by myself for myself, and now it was in a completely different rhythm for me, which was okay. I mean, I did that in the ATP Cup.

“Obviously it takes a little bit more energy than usual, but I felt that I was managing it quite well, again, even with my match. So, it was a very close call. It’s something that just you have got to deal with, I guess.”

Kirsten Flipkens

Team Belgium playing captain Kirsten Flipkens joined the rest of her team at Caversham Wildlife Park on Thursday.

Team Belgium’s Kirsten Flipkens will also be juggling roles in Perth. The former WTA World No. 13 will captain from courtside but is a more-than-handy doubles option for her team, which kicks off its Group A campaign on Saturday against Dimitrov’s Team Bulgaria. Flipkens, who reached the US Open mixed doubles final in 2022 alongside another playing captain in Perth, Team France’s Edouard Roger-Vasselin, is intrigued at the prospect of balancing the two roles.

“We will have to find out in the next few days,” she said when asked about her approach to the captaincy at her team’s pre-tournament press conference on Wednesday. “I just try to organise everything for the practices for the team, try to do as good as possible to schedule all the practices for now, and just take the responsibility.

“So far, so good, I guess. Right?” appealed first-time captain Flipkens jokingly to her team.

Yet even if Flipkens does feel pressure as a newcomer in the role, Dimitrov admits that his past ATP Cup experience does not necessarily make it easier.

“It’s tough to watch!” said the former No. 3 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. “I have always said that. I have been in multiple player boxes over the years and watching matches on the side. Always, when you care, whether you like it or not, you feel the heat.”

Yet Flipkens may have already had a positive impact on her team even before they play their first United Cup tie. Team Belgium star Elise Mertens, No. 29 in the WTA singles rankings and also a 16-time tour-level doubles champion, did not hesitate to point to Flipkens when asked about the secret behind Team Belgium’s volleying prowess.

“We have a good example!” joked Mertens. “The captain has good volleys!”

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Honouring Pele: Team Brazil Reflects On Football Icon's Death

  • Posted: Dec 30, 2022

Honouring Pele: Team Brazil Reflects On Football Icon’s Death

Monteiro, Stefani and Melo reflect on legend’s passing

The world mourned Friday after learning football icon Pele had passed away. The news hit close to home for Brazil’s United Cup team, which battled hard to honour the legend in Brisbane.

“I think everybody, not just us, but Brazil and the whole world is going to miss him,” Luisa Stefani said after her mixed doubles win alongside Rafael Matos. “He’s got a great personality and he’s a great ambassador for football, but also for sport in general. He managed to get people united, which I think is what we’re trying to do with this tournament.”

Stefani added: “We played today to honour him and to celebrate him because that’s what he did. He played with his heart, he showed love to everybody, so that’s what Team Brazil is going to do not only today but for the rest of the tournament and the rest of the year. So thanks Pele, rest in peace.”

Thiago Monteiro, Brazil’s No. 1 men’s singles player, reflected on Pele’s impact on his day-to-day life.

“Pele, he has a huge legacy in the sport. We call him ‘The King’ because of the history that he has in football and for me personally, I always try to get inspired by him with the love that he showed playing football and [doing so] professionally. Also he did everything with such energy and such passion that I just try to keep this to myself and tried to follow this path the way he did,” Monteiro said. “Today is obviously a sad day for us, a sad day for Brazil.

“I think the most important thing is he made everybody in our country happy and he was such an inspiration for many, many generations. He has a big legacy, maybe the best one in the sport for us. He was our hero. He’s still our hero for [a long] time to come.”

Former doubles World No. 1 Marcelo Melo is not competing in the United Cup, but the 39-year-old echoed the sentiments of his compatriots.

“Today unfortunately is a very sad day in Brazil, all over the world. Pele has passed way. Pele was an icon, an idol not only for Brazil but all over the world,” Melo said. “For kids, he inspired so many, many people to start to play soccer, to do sports. He represented Brazil in so many good ways. All over the world, [people] recognise him maybe as the best soccer player.

“Unfortunately he left us today, but for sure he’s going to continue inspiring many, many kids to start to play soccer, to believe they can achieve like him.”

Former doubles World No. 2 Bruno Soares, who retired last season, added that while it is a sad day for Brazil, it is a day to celebrate Pele’s legacy and life.

“Pele is the biggest idol we have not only in sports, but in general. He’s an incredible person, a beautiful human being. Even my generation and most of the people around me, we didn’t even get to see him play,” Soares said. “But it’s been incredible to witness his legacy and everything that he brought to sports and to Brazil, always carrying the flag and representing the Brazilian people with so much love and so much pride. Today’s a sad day, but a day to celebrate his life because Pele is ‘The King’. There’s only going to be one.”

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Garcia Routs Podoroska, Secures French Win Against Argentina

  • Posted: Dec 30, 2022

Garcia Routs Podoroska, Secures French Win Against Argentina

Mannarino also wins as sixth-seeded nation complete 5-0 clean sweep

WTA Finals champion Caroline Garcia kicked off the new season as she had left off the last one: in phenomenal form. The World No.4 dispatched Nadia Podoroska 6-2, 6-0 in just 64 minutes on Friday as France completed a 5-0 win against Argentina in the United Cup.

Garcia had only conceded three games against Podoroska in their sole previous meeting, in the second round of Monterrey 2017, and went one better this time as she racked up 24 winners in just 14 games to move Team France into an unassailable 3-0 lead.

Podoroska had a rough start to the match, with two foot faults contributing to a pair of double faults in the opening game the second down break point. Garcia needed little help to impose her swashbuckling strategy on the Argentinian, though.

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Swarming the net at every opportunity, including straight off several returns, the 29-year-old won 18 out of 24 points in the forecourt. She conceded only two points behind her first serve and never faced a break point.

Former Roland Garros semifinalist Podoroska, who was sidelined due to injury for 10 months between 2021 and mid-2022, needed to battle hard just to get two games — both requiring break point saves — on the board. Garcia went from strength to strength as she raced towards the finishing line, finding clean winners to seal all four of her service breaks in the second set and hammering away a smash in style on her first match point.

Garcia’s win means that France have wrapped up victory in their first tie without dropping a set. Indeed, following Day 1’s straight-sets wins from Alizé Cornet and Arthur Rinderknech, the French team have only dropped 11 games over the first three rubbers.

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“I felt very good,” said Garcia afterwards. “It’s never easy to start a new season, and it’s a new format of competition. I wanted to play well for myself, to put my game together after a good few weeks of practice, but competition is always different. Obviously beyond that I wanted to help my team to win the tie, so I’m very happy with my performance.”

Victory was also sweet due to reversing the result of the FIFA World Cup final earlier this month, in which Argentina defeated France on penalties.

“We all wanted to have our little revenge,” said Garcia. “But my coach [Juan Pablo Guzman], who is Argentinian, wearing the France T-shirt was pretty funny.”

France’s unbeaten start to the United Cup was later extended by Adrian Mannarino, whose clean and precise hitting proved too strong for Federico Coria. The 34-year-old raced to a 6-1, 6-0 victory in just 62 minutes to open up a 4-0 lead for his team in the Group F tie.

The highlight of the match was a stunning tweener winner from ATP No. 46 Mannarino to break serve at 4-0, 40/A in the second set. He raced backwards to retrieve a flat Coria forehand and connected with the ball just inches from the ground to arrow an incredible passing shot that had the RAC Arena crowd — and the Team France player box — in raptures.

“Honestly, I got lucky on that one,” said Mannarino in his post-match press conference. “I was able to run well, that’s the first thing, and then it was just a question of luck. I was feeling good on the court.”

“I was not really paying attention to what they were saying,” added Mannarino when asked about his teammates reaction to his remarkable winner. “Obviously they were quite excited, but I was trying to stay focused and finish the match.”

Team France’s mixed-doubles duo of Garcia and playing captain Edouard Roger-Vasselin then completed the clean sweep for the sixth-seeded nation in its opening match. The pair defeated Podoroska and Tomas Martin Etcheverry 6-2, 6-4 to ensure its team won the tie without dropping a single set across the five matches.

“It’s a great day, great matches,” said captain Roger-Vasselin. “The players were amazing. Today when I stepped on court I had to be as good as them, which was not that easy. I’m super proud of them.

“Besides the quality of the match, it’s also the team spirit. We are having fun together on court and off court as well. It’s great to start the competition with a 5-0 win. You never know. It can be very important in the future in the competition, so every match is important. That’s why we really wanted to win this mixed doubles. Now we will enjoy our day off tomorrow.”

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Captain Wawrinka Clinches Opening United Cup Tie For Switzerland

  • Posted: Dec 30, 2022

Captain Wawrinka Clinches Opening United Cup Tie For Switzerland

Former World No. 3 defeats Kazakhstan No. 1 Bublik

Instead of ‘Captain Stan’, call Stan Wawrinka ‘Captain Clutch’.

Wawrinka clinched Switzerland’s first United Cup tie win on Friday when he defeated Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik 6-3, 7-6(3) in the No. 1 men’s singles match. Switzerland holds an insurmountable 3-0 lead with No. 2 women’s singles and mixed doubles still to come.

“I was super happy when they announced this United Cup, to have the chance to play for the Swiss with my teammates and everybody and to play here in Brisbane. Tonight was a great level,” Wawrinka said. “I’m super happy with the way I was playing. I’ve been working really hard to be back at a better level and I’m happy with the performance today.”

Entering the match, former World No. 3 Wawrinka was 0-2 in his ATP Head2Head series with Bublik, one of the trickiest shotmakers on the ATP Tour. But the Swiss star was sharp in his first match of the season, trading his captain’s hat for his racquet in a one-hour, 31-minute victory.

Wawrinka, who spent all of Thursday evening cheering for and providing guidance to his team, was locked in from the start against the big-serving Kazakhstani. The 37-year-old did not lose his serve in the match and did not allow Bublik to control the rhythm of their clash.

“Alexander is a great player, always tough to play. He has a tough game to play against, big serve. He’s always trying to put pressure, so for me it was important here on that court to be the aggressive player, to always show him that any opportunity I will have I will go and I will push him back,” Wawrinka said. “So I think I did a great job today and I am super happy to have won in two sets. At my age it’s not easy to keep playing too long, so it’s great.”

The Swiss won 85 per cent of his first-serve points and did not face a break point. Bublik had an opportunity to turn the tide in the tie-break, but two sloppy drop shots proved too much to overcome.

Wawrinka was happy to not only start off his own season on a high, but to do so for his country and his team in Brisbane.

“I think it’s an amazing experience to play this United Cup, to put women’s and men’s tennis together with the same country,” Wawrinka said. “To have the chance to be the captain, to see tennis in a different way, in a different position, I’m really enjoying [it].”

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Dart Fires Great Britain To Victory Against Australia

  • Posted: Dec 30, 2022

Dart Fires Great Britain To Victory Against Australia

Great Britain holds unassailable 3-0 lead

Harriet Dart defeated Maddison Inglis 6-4, 6-4 to seal a win for Great Britain over Australia at the United Cup. Team GB will move to the top of Group D and prepare to face Spain next.

Great Britain came into Day 2 with a 2-0 lead over the host nation after Cameron Norrie and Katie Swan posted straight-set wins on Day 1. Ranked No. 98 and playing in the No. 1 position for Great Britain, Dart seized her chance to clinch the tie by winning the coveted third point to build an unassailable 3-0 lead.

“Maddy played really great tennis today and I had to work for it,” Dart said. “First match of the year, I was really nervous, but the crowd were great.”

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World No. 180 Inglis was a late substitution in singles after Australian No.1 Ajla Tomljanovic withdrew from the match due to a left knee injury. With Captain Sam Stosur urging her on, the 24-year-old from Perth acquitted herself well and, after a slow start, consistently challenged Dart from the baseline.

But Dart held her ground with clutch serving and a devastating day on her forehand. The 26-year-old Brit won 83% of her first serve points and was broken just once in the match. On her first match point, Dart fired her fifth ace of the match to take it after 92 minutes.

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Best Photos From Day 2 At The United Cup

  • Posted: Dec 30, 2022

Best Photos From Day 2 At The United Cup

Berrettini & Kvitova feature

<a href=''>Frances Tiafoe</a>
Frances Tiafoe celebrates winning first set in Sydney on Friday.

Frances Tiafoe and Tomas Machac ahead of their United Cup match.

Petra Kvitova
Petra Kvitova in action on Friday.

Petra Kvitova
Petra Kvitova celebrates her victory in Sydney.

<a href=''>Matteo Berrettini</a>
Matteo Berrettini competes for Team Italy on Friday in Brisbane.

Maria Sakkari
Maria Sakkari secures victory for Team Greece in Perth. Photo Credit: Getty Images

<a href=''>Grigor Dimitrov</a>

Grigor Dimitrov supports Dimitar Kuzmanov from the Team Bulgaria player box on Friday in Perth.

Maria Sakkari/<a href=''>Stefanos Tsitsipas</a>

Maria Sakkari and Stefanos Tsitsipas share a joke during their mixed-doubles victory on Friday afternoon in Perth.

<a href=''>Jason Kubler</a>
Jason Kubler celebrates victory against Daniel Evans.


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Sakkari Seals United Cup Victory For Greece Against Bulgaria

  • Posted: Dec 30, 2022

Sakkari Seals United Cup Victory For Greece Against Bulgaria

Top-seeded nation takes unassailable 3-0 lead in Group A tie

Team Greece have sealed the first victory of Group A at the United Cup in Perth after Maria Sakkari defeated Viktoriya Tomova 6-3, 6-2 in one hour and 27 minutes, giving her team an unassailable 3-0 lead over Team Bulgaria.

WTA No.6 Sakkari had lost to Tomova in their first meeting, over six years ago in the 2016 Szeged ITF W50 final. But she had gained revenge in the second round of Wimbledon 2022, and once again showed how far she has come in establishing herself as a solid Top 10 player.

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The first half of the opening set was tightly contested, with Tomova’s defensive skills and changes of pace drawing Sakkari into a number of extended exchanges. Indeed, it was the WTA No.90 who captured the first break, going up 2-1 as Sakkari leaked a double fault and errors on the forehand and at net.

But Sakkari responded with an immediate break back thanks to aggressive returning, and the pair remained neck-and-neck until the seventh game. After Sakkari had held for 4-3, Tomova required a medical timeout and returned with her lower left leg strapped.

On resumption, the Bulgarian’s attempts to shorten the points were a contrast to her earlier successful tactics and did not pay off. Sakkari broke for 5-3 by quickly tracking down a Tomova dropshot, and then converted her first set point with a forehand winner.

It was the second time in as many days that Team Bulgaria had been afflicted by injury. Like compatriot Isabella Shinikova on Day 1, Tomova continued to compete valiantly — but through the second set, she was unable to disrupt Sakkari’s fine rhythm on serve. The Greek player only conceded three points behind her delivery in the second set and broke the Tomova serve twice as she sped to victory.

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