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United Cup Day 5 Preview: Can Tsitsipas, Keys Continue Strong Starts?

  • Posted: Jan 01, 2023

United Cup Day 5 Preview: Can Tsitsipas, Keys Continue Strong Starts?

Final group-stage ties begin Monday

So much for easing into the new year.

In his first match of the season, Stefanos Tsitsipas found himself in a rollicking match with Grigor Dimitrov at the United Cup. It was, appropriately, decided in a third-set tiebreak.

“I stayed calm, I stayed well composed,” Tsitsipas said after his win. “In these moments, you have just got to stay in the moment. You cannot start predicting or thinking about the future. I managed that extremely well. I was able to serve big first serves. I didn’t let myself get back on defence, very rarely, and these moments define me.”

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Indeed, they do. For that is how Tsitsipas carved out a 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(4) victory, which helped stake top-seeded Greece to a 4-1 win over Bulgaria in Perth. It was an exceptionally clean match, with Tsitsipas saving eight of nine break points and winning just two more points than the determined Dimitrov.

On Monday, there is another stout challenge: David Goffin of Belgium — as Greece (1-0) tries to complete a clean sweep in Group A. The former World No. 7 had some nice results last year, winning his 300th career match on the way to his sixth ATP Tour title in Marrakech, and beating World No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz in Astana.

This is the pair’s seventh ATP Head2Head meeting, with Tsitsipas holding a 4-2 edge. Still, they haven’t played in more than three years.

Tsitsipas also won a United Cup mixed doubles match with Maria Sakkari, who earlier was a 6-3, 6-2 winner over Viktoriya Tomova. The two Greeks have a history in Perth, going back to the 2019 Hopman Cup, when they managed surprising victories against Roger Federer (paired with Belinda Bencic) and Serena Williams (with Frances Tiafoe).

“As Team Greece, I think we have never been stronger,” Tsitsipas said. “We have a lineup of great players. We are extremely collaborative between each other. I think that is something that will give us big chances this year to start this first edition of the United Cup, and be part of history in a way.”

It isn’t all just tennis. There is this conundrum to solve regarding the Greek specialty of sizzling skewer delights.

“We are still trying to figure out which place has better souvlaki: Perth, Melbourne, or Sydney,” Tsitsipas said, smiling. “So that has occupied a big portion of our conversations. We are trying to spot the differences.”

Keys Loving Life Down Under

Maybe it’s the summer right out of the box that Australia offers each January. Perhaps it’s the peace of mind that comes with a fresh start. Or, it might be because her older sister is named… Sydney.

Whatever the reason, Madison Keys has absolutely thrived Down Under.

“I love playing here,” she said last week. “Whether it’s the people, I like playing in the heat at the start of the year. It’s fast and bouncy. It suits my game really well. I’m hoping to kind of be able to do that again this year, have a good start to my year.”

It couldn’t have started any better. Keys took care of Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-3 as part of the United States’ 4-1 victory over the Czech Republic. On Monday, she and teammate Taylor Fritz will try to produce another singles sweep in Sydney against the other opponent in Group C, Germany. Fritz will meet Alexander Zverev, who will be playing his second competitive singles match since injuring his ankle in the Roland Garros semi-finals. 

A victory over Germany (0-1) would win Group C for the United States.

The big-hitting Keys burst into the semi-finals of the Australian Open in 2015 at the age of 19. She reached the quarter-finals three years later, and last year she won her first five matches in Melbourne before falling to eventual champion Ashleigh Barty in the semis. The week before, she won her sixth career title in Adelaide. Her 25-9 record at the Australian Open is the best of her major efforts.

Keys will square off against Jule Niemeier, a player who poses a formidable challenge. She has a similar, bruising power game to Keys, and she’s coming off the best season of her career. Niemeier won 39 of 60 matches in 2022 and reached the fourth round of the US Open before losing to eventual champion Iga Swiatek.

These two have never met.

Also In Action

Poland’s Iga Swiatek and Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic will square off in the opening match of a winner-takes-all tie which will decide Group B in Brisbane. In the same city, Italy needs a win against the eliminated Norway to advance at Brazil’s expense. Team Italy will turn to Lorenzo Musetti and Martina Trevisan on Monday.

In Perth, France and Croatia will battle it out to win Group F. The tie begins with two intriguing singles matchups: Alize Cornet and Donna Vekic will open play in the evening session, followed by a meeting between Arthur Rinderknech and Borna Coric.

Rafael Nadal will look to bounce back from a three-set loss to Cameron Norrie as he seeks his first win of the 2023 season against Australia’s Alex de Minaur in Sydney. While prize money and Pepperstone ATP Rankings points are on offer, neither Spain nor Australia can advance from Group D, with Norrie’s Great Britain confirmed as group winners with a 2-0 record.

City Final qualification scenarios

Group B:
The winner of Poland vs. Switzerland will qualify.
Group E: If Italy defeats Norway, Italy will qualify. If Norway defeats Italy, Brazil will qualify.

Group A:
If Greece defeats Belgium or loses 3-2 to Belgium, Greece will qualify. If Belgium defeats Greece 4-1 or 5-0, Belgium will qualify.
Group F: The winner of France vs. Croatia will qualify.

Group C:
If the U.S. defeats Germany or loses 2-3 to Germany, the U.S. will qualify. If Germany defeats the U.S. 4-1 or 5-0, Germany will qualify.
Group D: Great Britain has already qualified. 

United Cup: Day 5 Order of play (local time)

Sydney, Ken Rosewall Arena

United States (1-0) vs. Germany (0-1) (Group C)
Taylor Fritz (USA) vs. Alexander Zverev (GER), 12 noon
Madison Keys (USA) vs. Jule Niemeier (GER), to follow

Spain (0-1) vs. Australia (0-1) (Group D)
Rafael Nadal (ESP) vs. Alex de Minaur (AUS), 7 p.m.
Nuria Parrizas Diaz (ESP) vs. Maddison Inglis (AUS), to follow

Perth, RAC Arena

Greece (1-0) vs. Belgium (0-1) (Group A)
Despina Papamichail (GRE) vs. Alison Van Uytvanck (BEL), 12 noon
Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) vs. David Goffin (BEL), to follow

France (1-0) vs. Croatia (1-0) (Group F)
Alize Cornet (FRA) vs. Donna Vekic (CRO), 6 p.m.
Arthur Rinderknech (FRA) vs. Borna Coric (CRO), to follow

Brisbane, Pat Rafter Arena

Italy (1-0) vs. Norway (0-1) (Group E)
Martina Trevisan (ITA) vs. Malene Helgo (NOR), 1 p.m.
Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) vs. Viktor Durasovic (NOR), to follow

Poland (1-0) vs. Switzerland (1-0) (Group B)
Iga Swiatek (POL) vs. Belinda Bencic (SWI), 7 p.m.
Daniel Michalski (POL) vs. Marc-Andrea Huesler (SWI), to follow

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Medvedev Seeks Hot Start In Adelaide

  • Posted: Jan 01, 2023

Medvedev Seeks Hot Start In Adelaide

World No. 5 opens against Sonego, could face Djokovic in semis

Daniil Medvedev is eager to open his 2023 season with some tough matchups against top opponents at the Adelaide International I — but he’ll need to navigate a loaded draw at the ATP 250 to get those matches under his belt.

Seeded third, Medvedev is joined in the Adelaide field by fellow 2022 Nitto ATP Finals competitors Novak Djokovic, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Andrey Rublev, as well as Turin alternate Holger Rune.

“It’s definitely good,” he said of the deep field, “because first tournament of the year, if you manage to win some matches, that’s good, because you’re going to play good opponents. It’s always good to get matches before the first Slam.

“It’s a really strong tournament. Everybody knew it before coming here. Really strong draw, so everybody needs to be at their best, and we’re definitely going to see some great tennis here in Adelaide.”

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While top seed and 2007 Adelaide champ Djokovic is a potential semi-final opponent for Medvedev, the World No. 7 is more focussed on a deep run than any blockbuster matchups down the road.

“I definitely saw that I can play Novak in the semis,” he said. “At the same time, what motivates me is to be in the semis, and if it’s Novak there, it’s great. If it’s somebody else who beats him, I don’t care much; that’s also great. It means that somebody is in great shape, managed to probably beat the best player in the world right now…. I would be happy both ways. I just want to be in the semi-finals to start, and I don’t care who I play.”


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Medvedev is back in Australia for the first time since his heartbreaking defeat to Rafael Nadal in the 2022 Australian Open final. And while Nadal’s vintage form in the first half of last season was one of its major storylines, so too was the success of other young stars like Carlos Alcaraz, Auger-Aliassime and Rune. The influx of top talent will make 2023 as challenging a year as any on the ATP Tour, according to Medvedev.

“I think it’s always difficult, really, because it’s always some new players that come in,” he assessed. “Some old ones are maybe playing a little bit worse, but then they’re coming back, like let’s say Sascha [Alexander Zverev] was not playing for a lot of months, but he can come back any moment and he’s going to be a contender. Even Dominic [Thiem], he’s in tough moment, but he’s a guy who won a Slam, so any moment in his career he can be back at one moment, and he can start just winning matches, winning tournaments.

“Same, of course, Carlos is No. 1 in the world right now, playing amazing. So many good players. Sometimes there are sensations in the first round, so I want to say you have to focus as much as you can on yourself, try to show your best tennis, and that’s when you can win Grand Slams and big tournaments.”

Medvedev will open his 2023 ATP Tour season against Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego, with Miomir Kecmanovic of Aussie wild card Christopher O’Connell potential second-round opponents in Adelaide. He finished the 2022 season on a four-match losing streak, though three of those defeats came in third-set tie-breaks in Turin.

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Scouting Report: Djokovic & Medvedev Lead Adelaide Draw; Cilic In Pune

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'Overwhelming Joy', Snacks For Cats & Airplanes: Getting To Know Huesler

  • Posted: Jan 01, 2023

‘Overwhelming Joy’, Snacks For Cats & Airplanes: Getting To Know Huesler

The lefty won his first ATP Tour title in 2022

Last October, Marc-Andrea Huesler was competing in the Sofia Open final when his opponent, Holger Rune, missed a final forehand return. Huesler tossed his racquet to the side, fell to his knees and buried his head in his hands as he took his bandana off.

When the Swiss lifted his head, he wore a priceless smile stretched wide across his face. Huesler had turned a dream into a reality.

“That was just overwhelming in a sense that you’re completely fufllled by joy. It’s just complete joy and you just get emotional,” Huelser told “Also thinking back, when I see videos sometimes looking back I also get emotional pretty fast. It’s something I’ll never forget [in] my life. That’s an amazing experience.”

It was the high point of a breakthrough season for the lefty, who climbed from just inside the Top 200 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings to the fringe of the Top 50, claimed his first tour-level crown and competed in his first two Grand Slam main draws.

“If you look at it as a whole, a lot has changed, but at the same time I had a whole year and it was always one step at a time,” Huesler said. “[I was] trying not to think too far ahead because you never know how far it will happen. I never thought that I’d be now playing United Cup in position two of Switzerland a year ago, even if it existed. It’s an awesome chance for me.”

<a href=''>Marc-Andrea Huesler</a>
Photo: Tennis Australia
As he said, Huesler is now one of the stars of his country’s United Cup team, which is 1-0 in Group B. A lot of the World No. 56’s success can be credited to his grounded mindset.

“I think as a professional tennis player it’s important that you try to find ways where you feel at ease in uneasy moments or at least try to because you’re not always going to be in a comfortable situation on the court, also in life in general,” Huesler said. “I’m trying new things out over the years and usually the match gets decided in the important points, so it’s important to have a clear mind then, but also be able to accept that if it does not go your way, it does not mean that you did anything wrong necessarily.

“Just try again next time and hopefully keep a stable mindset throughout the whole season.”

Huesler’s biggest moment was his triumph in Bulgaria, but it was far from a one-off moment. The lefty won two ATP Challenger Tour titles in April in Mexico and battled to his second ATP Tour semi-final in August in Winston-Salem.

Despite falling short of winning a main draw match at one of his first two majors, he pushed his opponent to five sets at both Wimbledon and US Open, with the latter match coming against Canadian Denis Shapovalov.

It was a whirlwind of a season, but Huesler is not someone who will allow the success to get to his head. The Swiss is conscious of everything that goes on around him and finds it important to stay grounded.

“Honestly I feel it’s the most important thing. I don’t think I’d [be] happier if I would be higher up the rankings but completely change as a person because every person who has I think achieved good thing in sports still has to stay on the ground because there’s no reason not to respect one another the same way, to feel like you’re something better than someone else,” Huesler said. “I feel like also life on Tour, it’s easy to get lost a little staying in fancy hotels, traveling the best way. [There are] so many people who are doing things in the background that you’re not even aware of, so I think it’s important to be aware of that.”

Huesler even looks out for stray animals. He keeps about a gram of cat food in his bag in case he comes across one during his travels.

“It’s just a small snack basically for cats. You never know [when you might need it],” Huesler said. “It’s been more on the Challenger level I’d say where you’re playing in more remote places and where maybe you also walk to the hotel, you walk through neighbourhoods and there are always stray animals around.

“I just feel like it’s important to take joy in the small things in life. I’m a big cat fan and I just felt like, ‘Why not?’ I had it in my bag because my family has cats. Why not bring a couple along and maybe I can give it to one, who knows, maybe make their day a bit better.”

Although Huesler is doing well as a professional tennis player, he once had dreams of becoming a pilot. As a kid, he liked the sensation of being in the air and loved looking out the window. “I was always amazed with how the airplane can stay up,” he said, cracking a laugh. “To this day I still think it’s pretty amazing because it’s pretty heavy, it manages to stay up and it’s actually a really safe way of travel.”

Huesler at one point enjoyed playing a flight simulator game when he returned home from tournaments to recreate approaches into big cities he had seen from the sky. But for several reasons, including growing to 6’5”, he had to move on from his pilot dreams.

“I started realising what kind of path it takes to become a pilot and also I got older, other interests came up and then it was pretty obvious at one point that I was not going to take that path,” Huesler said. “But I’m still a fan of flying.”

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Hello world

  • Posted: Jan 01, 2023

Welcome to wiki This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!…

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Hurkacz Does Double Duty, Helps Poland Past Kazakhstan In Brisbane

  • Posted: Jan 01, 2023

Hurkacz Does Double Duty, Helps Poland Past Kazakhstan In Brisbane

Poland wins tie 4-1

Hubert Hurkacz earned a critical win for his country on Sunday evening at the United Cup, where he defeated Alexander Bublik 7-6(8), 4-6, 6-3 to give Poland a 2-1 lead against Kazakhstan. Magda Linette then finished the job and Hurkacz/Iga Swiatek capped a 4-1 victory for their countrey.

World No. 48 Linette secured the winning point for Poland, easing past Kazakhstan’s Zhibek Kulambayeva 6-2, 6-1 in Brisbane.

“Following Hubi was great,” Linette said. “Watching that match from them was nerve-wracking. But it was really nice coming with the advantage of knowing he won. It was great and I just did my job.”

Hurkacz’s match appeared destined for a final-set tie-break between two of the biggest servers on the ATP Tour, but Hurkacz was opportunistic at the most critical moment. On his third break point at 4-3, the Pole hit a well-placed return deep in the court to put Bublik on the back foot, then rushed forward and executed a perfect half volley to elicit an easy putaway.

If Hurkacz had any nerves as he stepped to the line to serve for the victory, he did not show them. The Pole held to love, crushing his 18th ace of the match to triumph after two hours and nine minutes.

“It was a lot of fun to play against Sascha. I think that the quality was really high. It was the first match of the new year on the first [day of the year], so that was pretty good. I’m really happy with the quality and it was definitely a fun match,” Hurkacz said. “It was a lot of fun to play in front of such a great crowd. I’ve never been in Brisbane and I really love it here so thanks guys for coming.” 

Hurkacz now leads Bublik 4-1 in their ATP Head2Head series, and has won four consecutive matches against the Kazakhstani. Bublik hit 15 aces and saved three of the four break points he faced, but it was his final service game that proved his undoing. 

Linette was clinical in her first match of the season, showing her quality and experience against Kulambayeva, who has become a fan favorite in Brisbane. The 441st-ranked 22-year-old had no answers for Linette’s baseline consistency. Linette fired 18 groundstroke winners in the match while limiting Kulambayeva to just five.

With the tie already in hand, Hurkacz and Swiatek showed their quality in the mixed doubles, defeating Kulambayeva and Grigoriy Lomakin 6-3, 6-4.

Lomakin threw in multiple underarm serves successfully, but it was not enough for the Kazakhstanis. WTA World No. 1 Swiatek hit an around-the-netpost winner and Poland will next face Switzerland to decide the winner of Group B.

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Martic Overcomes Podoroska To Seal Win For Croatia

  • Posted: Jan 01, 2023

Martic Overcomes Podoroska To Seal Win For Croatia

Eighth-seeded nation holds unassailable 3-0 lead in Group F tie against Argentina

Petra Martic notched a 6-2, 4-6, 6-1 defeat of Nadia Podoroska on Sunday to give Croatia an unassailable 3-0 lead over Argentina at the United Cup in Perth. The winner of Group F will be decided over the next two days in the third and final tie, as Croatia return to take on France.

In Martic’s only previous encounter with Podoroska, she had emerged a 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 winner in the third round of Rome 2021. Once again, she was able to triumph in three sets, losing the tightest but running away with the other two.

This time, Podoroska roared out of the blocks. The former WTA No.36 dazzled in the opening three games, breaking Martic straight away with a perfect lob and coming up with crowd-pleasing volley and dropshot winners.

But Martic responded with aggression of her own, and Podoroska proved unable to sustain her high level. The Croatian reeled off seven straight games, breaking for 4-2 as Podoroska served consecutive double faults and sealing the set with an exquisitely weighted drop shot of her own.

Both players settled into a groove on serve in the second set: the first eight games saw just one break point between them, quickly snuffed out by Podoroska with a service winner. At 4-4, though, Martic blinked first. A dip in energy and execution saw her quickly lose the last two games of the set with a series of cheap errors, then go down a break at the start of the second set.

Encouraged by captain Iva Majoli and coach Michael Geserer, Martic gathered herself to reprise the arc of the first set. Having backed off her aggressive tactics, she upped the ante on serve and resumed her net-rushing approach in the decider, and was rewarded with another six-game streak to seal victory.

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Badosa Overcomes Cramps To Keep Spain Alive

  • Posted: Jan 01, 2023

Badosa Overcomes Cramps To Keep Spain Alive

Briton Evans plays Ramos-Vinolas next

Paula Badosa engineered a remarkable comeback to defeat Harriet Dart 6-7(6), 7-6(5), 6-1 to earn Spain’s first match-win at the United Cup. Playing her first match of the season, Badosa fought off leg cramps to reel in Dart and keep Spain in the tie on Sunday in Sydney.

Great Britain now leads Spain 2-1. The task now falls to Daniel Evans to try and clinch the win and seal a spot at the top of the Group D table. Evans will face Albert Ramos Vinolas in the second men’s singles match.

“I don’t know what happened at the second set, I started a little bit to cramp,” Badosa said. “It was high intensity, first match of the year, I was nervous. But I could adapt myself. I started to play a little bit more aggressive. I’m very happy with the fight tonight because I played and fought until the last moment.”

Badosa went into the match looking for her first win over Dart. The 98th-ranked Brit handed Badosa her last loss of the 2022 season at the Billie Jean King Cup, winning 6-3, 6-4 in November. As luck would have it, Badosa drew Dart again for her first match of the 2023 season. After Great Britain swept Spain on Day 3 to build a 2-0 lead, Badosa was faced with the added pressure of winning a must-win match for Spain.

Dart came through a 77-minute opening set to hold off a furious comeback from the Spaniard, saving two set points along the way. With Badosa struggling with her rhythm on serve, Dart opened up a 5-2 lead before the former World No. 2 dialed in. Badosa ran off four consecutive games and earned two set points on Dart’s serve at 6-5, but a brave cross-court forehand from Dart kept her in the set.

But the grueling first set and humid conditions took its toll on Badosa in the second set. After building a 3-1 lead, she began to cramp in her legs. Dart took advantage, clawing her way back on serve before Badosa began to rebound physically.

With the help of some pickle juice provided by the trainer, Badosa began to recover and her serving woes dissipated. Badosa powered through the second-set tiebreak, building a 5-0 lead and holding off a comeback from Dart to seal set with a roar.

With the momentum firmly on her side, Badosa dominated the final set, saving her best tennis for last. Badosa hit just three unforced errors in the final set, playing at the level that won her the Sydney title on this very court, to race away with the win after 3 hours and four minutes of play.

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Mertens Battles Past Topalova, Gives Belgium 2-1 Lead Over Bulgaria

  • Posted: Jan 01, 2023

Mertens Battles Past Topalova, Gives Belgium 2-1 Lead Over Bulgaria

Bergs faces Kuzmanov next in crucial singles rubber

Elise Mertens kicked off 2023 by giving Belgium a 2-1 lead over Bulgaria at the United Cup in Perth, though her 6-4, 3-6, 6-0 win over substitute Gergana Topalova wasn’t all smooth sailing.

No.323-ranked Topalova was a last-minute replacement for Bulgaria’s top WTA player, Viktoriya Tomova, who sustained a left calf injury in her Day 2 loss to Maria Sakkari. The 22-year-old was making her tour-level debut; indeed, she had never even played a WTA qualifying draw before, nor had she faced an opponent ranked higher than No.130.

However, Topalova had improved her year-end ranking from No.512 to No.308 over the course of 2022, and demonstrated why in an impressive performance against Mertens. She nailed a backhand winner on the second point of the match, and that shot would prove an impressive weapon across the one-hour, 55-minute contest.

Nonetheless, WTA Finals doubles champion Mertens’ experience and all-court prowess kept her in front. The Belgian won 16 out of 22 points at net, and racked up 22 winners in total. However, her service level fluctuated somewhat; Mertens accumulated eight double faults, repeatedly beckoning Topalova back into the match.

But No.29-ranked Mertens was able to withstand her opponent’s comeback attempts each time. She was twice up a break in the first set, but after being pegged back to 4-4 found her best returns and serves to take the last two games. And after Topalova came from 2-0 down in the second set to level the match, Mertens responded with a dominant third set in which she only conceded three points on serve.

Belgium are now one win from victory with two rubbers to go. ATP No.129 Zizou Bergs has the opportunity to seal the tie against Bulgaria’s Dimitar Kuzmanov in the next match on RAC Arena, but the potential for the first mixed doubles deciding rubber remains alive.

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