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Medvedev Ready For Another Shot At Djokovic, Nadal At Australian Open

  • Posted: Jan 07, 2023

Medvedev Ready For Another Shot At Djokovic, Nadal At Australian Open

Despite losing records against the all-time Slam leaders, two-time Melbourne finalist is ready to take the next step at year’s first major

Despite enduring a fourth consecutive defeat to Novak Djokovic in the Adelaide International 1 semi-finals, Daniil Medvedev remains confident that he can turn the tables on the Serbian if he gets a shot at revenge at this month’s Australian Open. And that’s despite Saturday’s 6-3, 6-4 loss being the most lopsided of their four most recent battles.

The 26-year-old admitted that the match was “completely on Novak’s side,” but said that his confidence would not be shaken the next time he meets Djokovic or, for that matter, Rafael Nadal, against whom he has just a modest 1-5 ATP Head2Head record. Medvedev led the Spaniard two sets to love in last year’s Australian Open final before the lefty rallied to take the title in five sets.

As he leaves Adelaide, Medvedev now sets his sights on a strong run at the season’s first Slam and perhaps another crack at Djokovic or Nadal, the only two men to beat him at the Australian Open the past two years.

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“I think with the feeling I had this week, I could be back at winning [against] these guys, winning tournaments,” Medvedev said. “Again, Novak is in a different league, 21 slams. But generally [I’m] positive. Need to stay positive because the first Slam is coming. Want to show my best. Want to feel a great atmosphere like it was here in Adelaide. Looking forward.”

Some of Medvedev’s career-best wins have come against Djokovic and Nadal. In 2020, Medvedev won the Nitto ATP Finals, where he downed Nadal in the semi-finals. The following year, Medvedev earned his maiden Grand Slam title at the US Open, where he denied Djokovic’s quest for the coveted calendar Slam. He will draw upon those victories to boost his confidence should he play either one of them this month in Melbourne.

“Every time I play them, before the match the only thought is I have to win,” Medvedev said. “I have to try my best to win. I managed to do it. Rafa, I think I beat only once, but still I managed to do it. I had some tough matches against him, against Novak. Against Novak I won a slam. I believe in myself.

“But sometimes on the court it gets tough. Sometimes you don’t manage to make the challenge. Tonight is a case. I didn’t manage to pass the test. Next time I face him, I’m going to try to do it again.”

While Djokovic remained strong in the critical moments of Saturday’s match, saving all three break points faced, Medvedev double faulted on break point in both sets. Despite being known as one of the game’s strongest returners, Medvedev only won four points off Djokovic’s first delivery and failed to convert on all three break points.

Djokovic, a 91-time tour-level titlist, extended his ATP Head2Head series lead to 9-4 over Medvedev. While they split sets in their three previous meetings, Medvedev gave a straightforward answer as he conceded that Saturday’s one hour and 30 minute contest was one-way traffic.

“Sometimes tennis is about the small, small margins,” Medvedev said. “Some matches I managed to win against him. This one was completely on his side.”

Even though Medvedev won’t be crowned champion in Adelaide, he’s still drawing positives from the three wins he earned this week at the ATP 250 event. With one week until the first Grand Slam of the year, the 15-time tour-level titlist believes he is still in a strong position to claim his second major crown. After finishing runner-up in Melbourne the past two seasons, Medvedev will be satisfied with nothing less than leaving the Australian Open with the trophy.

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Scouting Report: Ruud Headlines ATP's Auckland Return; Rublev Goes Again In Adelaide

  • Posted: Jan 07, 2023

Scouting Report: Ruud Headlines ATP’s Auckland Return; Rublev Goes Again In Adelaide

An executive summary of what every fan should know about the coming week

As the ATP Tour season builds toward the Australian Open, two events Down Under provide players their last chance to compete ahead of the year’s first Grand Slam.

A pair of ATP 250s — the ASB Classic in Auckland and the Adelaide International 2 — are next on the schedule, with World No. 3 Casper Ruud leading the field as the ATP Tour returns to Auckland for the first time since 2020. Former champion Andrey Rublev is the top seed in Adelaide, where hometown hero Thanasi Kokkinakis is back to defend his title. looks at 10 things to watch this week.

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1) Ruud With Eye On World No. 1:
 After a breakthrough 2022 season in which he reached the final at Miami, Roland Garros, the US Open and the Nitto ATP Finals, Ruud began the new year at No. 3 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings — one spot off his career-high. After going 1-1 at the United Cup with a win against Thiago Monteiro and a loss to Matteo Berrettini, the Norwegian prepares for his first ATP Tour tournament of the season. He will be the top seed in his third Auckland appearance, with eighth seed John Isner a potential quarter-final opponent.

Ruud is currently 1,100 points behind World No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, and — having missed out on the 2022 Australian Open through injury — is in prime position to make up ground in the coming weeks.

2) Norrie Aims To Stay Perfect: After producing a perfect 3-0 record as he led Great Britain to the United Cup semis — including wins against Rafael Nadal and Taylor Fritz — Cameron Norrie is seeded second in Auckland and will open against a qualifier. Norrie broke into the Top 10 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings for the first time last season, reaching a high of World No. 8, and currently sits at No. 12 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings.

Though he was born in South Africa and plays under the British flag, Norrie will feel right at home in New Zealand, having been raised in Auckland. 

3) Three Argentine Seeds: Third seed Diego Schwartzman, fourth seed Francisco Cerundolo and seventh seed Sebastian Baez are joined by Pedro Cachin in the singles draw. While Schwartzman is the Argentine No. 1 at World No. 25, Cerundolo will have a chance to overtake him for that honour in Auckland as he enters the week less than 200 Pepperstone ATP Rankings points behind his countryman.

Argentina currently has seven men inside the Top 100, six of whom are competing in Auckland, with Federico Coria and Tomas Martin Etcheverry in the qualifying draw.

4) Big Servers Bublik, Isner In Top Half: Fifth seed Alexander Bublik and American Isner will add some pop to the top half of the draw. Kazakhstan’s Bublik’s opening match against David Goffin is the pick of the first-round contests.

Isner is one of five Americans in the main draw, joining Jenson Brooksby, wild card Ben Shelton, J.J. Wolf and Marcos Giron. Christopher Eubanks hopes to qualify to make it six. 

5) Mektic/Pavic Lead Doubles Draw: Croatians Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic will play their first match since defeat in the Nitto ATP Finals title match, facing the Australian duo of Ajeet Rai and Finn Reynolds. Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos are seeded second in the doubles draw.

1) Can Rublev Roar Back?: 
After a disappointing first-round exit at the hands of Roberto Bautista Agut last week in Adelaide, Rublev returns with a fresh slate as he looks to get his 2023 season up and running. Following an opening-round bye, the top seed and 2022 Nitto ATP Finals semi-finalist will meet an Australian wild card: either defending champion and Adelaide native Kokkinakis or Alexei Popyrin.

2) Spanish Seeds: Second seed Pablo Carreno Busta joins fourth seed Bautisa Agut and seventh seed Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in Adelaide, with Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas also in the draw. We could see an all-Spanish matchup as early as the second round, if Davidovich Fokina can beat Brandon Nakashima and Ramos-Vinolas gets past a qualifier. 

Carreno Busta is set for his first action of 2023, while Bautista Agut finds himself in the last 16 thanks to a first-round bye, one week after he upset Rublev to reach that stage at the Adelaide International 1.


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3) Aussie, Aussie, Aussie: Three Australian wild cards occupy consecutive lines in the top half of the draw. While Kokkinakis begins his title defence against Popyrin — Rublev awaiting the winner — Jason Kubler will open against a qualifier, with sixth seed Miomir Kecmanovic a potential second-round opponent. Five more Aussies are in the qualifying draw, including John Millman.

Popyrin seeks a second strong showing in Adelaide after qualifying and upsetting second seed Felix Auger-Aliassime on his way to the quarter-finals last week. Kubler will hope to back up his two United Cup No. 2 singles wins against Daniel Evans and Ramos-Vinolas.

4) Early Showdowns: Other popcorn first-round matchups include Kyle Edmund (who entered with a protected ranking) vs. Kecmanovic; Pune finalst Benjamin Bonzi vs. Maxime Cressy; eighth seed Tommy Paul vs. Yoshihito Nishioka; Lorenzo Sonego vs. Jack Draper; and Emil Ruusuvuori vs. Sebastian Korda, who will contest the Adelaide International 1 final against Novak Djokovic on Sunday.

5) Doubles No. 1s Back For More: Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski, who share the top spot in the Pepperstone ATP Doubles Rankings, are eager to replicate the red-hot start to their partnership from this time last year. The Dutch-British duo won seven tour-level titles in its first season, but stumbled out of the gate in 2023 with an opening-round loss to Mackenzie McDonald and Marcelo Melo last week in Adelaide.

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United Cup Final Preview: Team USA, Italy Square Off For Inaugural Title

  • Posted: Jan 07, 2023

United Cup Final Preview: Team USA, Italy Square Off For Inaugural Title

Fritz vs. Berrettini blockbuster among highlights

In the course of 11 drama-filled days at the United Cup, across three Australian cities, 18 teams have been reduced to just two: the third-seeded United States and fifth seeds Italy.

Sunday’s final takes place at 1 p.m. local time (9 p.m. ET) in Sydney’s Ken Rosewall Arena.

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The U.S. clinched its spot in the title round first, uncertain if it would be facing Italy or Greece.

“I don’t really think it matters,” captain David Witt said. “I think our players are pretty confident and excited to be in the final. We will just have to wait to see who we play, and then go out there and do it up.”

Both squads have been “doing it up” with remarkable consistency.

The United States — leading 2-0 after the first day of semi-final play — swept its three Saturday matches to defeat Poland 5-0. Taylor Fritz and Madison Keys won their singles matches over Hubert Hurkacz and Magda Linette, respectively, before Fritz and Jessica Pegula won their mixed doubles match.

Later, Lucia Bronzetti clinched a 4-1 victory for Italy over Greece with a 6-2, 6-3 win against Valentini Grammatikopoulou. While Italy opened play Saturday with a Matteo Berrettini loss to Stefanos Tsitsipas, the Italians finished strong, first with Bronzetti and then a mixed doubles win by Camilla Rosatello and Andrea Vavassori.

There is little history between these players on the U.S. and Italy. The two women’s matches are both first-time affairs. Meanwhile, Fritz holds a 2-0 advantage over Berrettini, at the 2019 Davis Cup Finals and 2021 Indian Wells. Lorenzo Musetti defeated Frances Tiafoe in their only ATP Head2Head meeting, two years ago in Acapulco, but it was decided by a third-set tiebreak.

Both teams have benefitted from elite singles play at the United Cup. The United States is 14-2, while Italy is 12-4.

Breaking it down individually, the Americans all have winning records: Tiafoe 4-0, Keys 4-0, Pegula 3-1 and Fritz 3-1.

The Italians are not far behind: Musetti 4-0, Berrettini 3-1, Bronzetti 3-1 and Martina Trevisan 2-2.

If it comes down to the final match, mixed doubles, the United States has a clear advantage, as Pegula and Fritz are a tidy 3-0. Italian Captain Vincenzo Santopadre has scheduled Berrettini and Trevisan. Berretini lost his only mixed doubles match and Trevisan has yet to play.

According to Berrettini, Team Italy is feeling the spirit of those vintage championship Billie Jean King Cup teams that featured Francesca Schiavone, Flavia Pennetta, Roberta Vinci and Sara Errani. From 2006-13, they won four titles.

“They were great inspirations for all of us,” Berrettini said. “I believe they were great. I think when you play team competitions, it’s important to create a group off court and then you can perform better on court. That’s what we did from the very first moment.

“We immediately created this group chat and started talking about when we will get here and we kind of celebrated Christmas on the flights together. We started to hang out together and create this bond that is really important.”

The Americans, too, have bonded.

“I didn’t know how locked everybody was,” Tiafoe said. “It’s just crazy.”

Sunday, Jan. 8
Ken Rosewall Arena, 1 p.m.
Jessica Pegula (USA) vs. Martina Trevisan (ITA) / Head-to-head: 0-0
Frances Tiafoe (USA) vs. Lorenzo Musetti (ITA) / Head-to-head: Musetti, 1-0

5:30 p.m.
Taylor Fritz (USA) vs. Matteo Berrettini (ITA) / Head-to-head: Fritz, 2-0
Madison Keys (USA) vs. Lucia Bronzetti (ITA) / Head-to-head: 0-0
Jessica Pegula and Taylor Fritz (USA) vs. Martina Trevisan (ITA) and Matteo Berrettini (ITA)

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Griekspoor Claims First ATP Tour Title In Pune

  • Posted: Jan 07, 2023

Griekspoor Claims First ATP Tour Title In Pune

Dutchman outlasts Bonzi in matchup of first-time finalists

Tallon Griekspoor overcame his first lost set of the week at the Tata Open Maharashtra to claim his first ATP Tour title Saturday in an entertaining and high-quality final against Benjamin Bonzi. The Dutchman served to stay in the match in the second set but ultimately outlasted his French opponent 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 before collapsing to the court in celebration of his milestone moment.

“[It was the] first final for both, some pressure,” Griekspoor said after clinching the trophy with a dominant serving display that included 17 aces. “All I did was keep fighting every point, trying to get my best tennis, and in the end it came, so I’m really happy with that.

“I think even in the first set I played well. I just played one really bad game at 4-5 which made it tough for myself. Bonzi was playing really well.”

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After getting broken to surrender the first set, the 26-year-old showed great resilience in the same situation in set two. From 4-5 in the second, he won three straight games to force a decider, then continued his momentum by building a 3-1 lead in the final set.

Bonzi created two break points in a four-deuce game at 3-2, but Griekspoor stood firm to hold and ultimately sealed victory with his third break of the match when his opponent’s forehand sailed long.

The two-hour, 16-minute final was played at a high level throughout despite it being the first tour-level title match for both men.

“Of course a little bit more nerves than normal, but it wasn’t too bad actually,” said Griekspoor, who dropped serve just twice on the week. “I think we both played really well, our service games… Nerves are always there, today a little bit more, but I’m happy with how I handled it.”

The Dutchman rocketed 34 places up the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings this week to No. 61 as he closes in on his career high of World No. 44, achieved in August. He knocked off two seeded opponents in Pune — seventh seed Jaume Munar in the opening round and eighth seed Aslan Karatsev in the semis — and was the beneficiary of a withdrawal from top seed Marin Cilic ahead of their scheduled quarter-final matchup.

The 26-year-old Bonzi jumped 10 spots in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings this week to enter the Top 50 but missed out on an opportunity to break into the Top 40 for the first time and become the French No. 1.

The final was the pair’s first ATP Head2Head meeting, though Bonzi defeated Griekspoor in a third-set tie-break on the ATP Challenger Tour in 2017.

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Gille/Vliegen Deny Home Favourites For Pune Title

  • Posted: Jan 07, 2023

Gille/Vliegen Deny Home Favourites For Pune Title

Belgians win sixth tour-level title

Belgians Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen opened the 2023 season in style with a flawless trophy run at the Tata Open Maharashtra, winning the Pune ATP 250 title without dropping a set in four matches.

The longtime partners defeated the Indian duo of N.Sriram Balaji and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan 6-4, 6-4 in Saturday’s Pune final to win their sixth ATP Tour title as a team. The fourth seeds improved to 6-2 in tour-level finals, with all of their final runs coming as a pair.

“It’s been a fantastic week,” said Gille. “We didn’t really know what to expect, as this is the first time that we came to India. But right from the start we felt good. It was a great atmosphere and a well organised tournament. We played very well and we’re super happy to get the sixth title.”

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Added Vliegen: “The crowd today was fantastic. They came out in big numbers and supported the local guys a lot but were also very fair towards us, so really big thanks. We don’t always get a chance to play in front of a crowd like that, so really amazing.”

Breaks of serve in the third game of each set proved enough for Gille/Vliegen to claim the title, with the Belgians capitalising in both games in which they created a break chance. They won two of four break points and did not face a break point on their own serve for the third time on the week.

Broken just once in Pune in the quarter-finals, the Belgians upset top seeds and reigning Nitto ATP Finals champs Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury 7-6(3), 7-6(4) in the semis before backing up the win with a clinical performance in the final.

“Throughout the whole week, the serve has been a very important factor,” Gille added, discussing the slick court conditions in Pune.

Gille and Vliegen first teamed up in 2013 at an ITF event in Belgium, and they now hold an 83-83 tour-level record as a team. Both players hold career-high Pepperstone ATP Rankings inside the Top 30, with their five previous ATP Tour titles coming in 2019 Bastad, 2019 Gstaad, 2019 Zhuhai, 2020 Astana and 2021 Singapore.

Balaji and Nedunchezhiyan were competing in their first tour-level final as a team after a late entry into the event as alternates, with both ranked just outside the Top 100 in the Pepperstone ATP Doubles Rankings. Balaji, 32, contested his first ATP Tour doubles final, while Nedunchezhiyan, 34, was seeking his second tour-level doubles crown after a 2017 Chennai triumph with countryman Rohan Bopanna.

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After Tsitsipas Heroics, Bronzetti Sends Italy To United Cup Final

  • Posted: Jan 07, 2023

After Tsitsipas Heroics, Bronzetti Sends Italy To United Cup Final

Italy will play United States for the trophy

Lucia Bronzetti clinched Italy’s place in the United Cup final in style with a 78-minute 6-2, 6-3 victory over Valentini Grammatikopoulou.

Italy led Greece 2-0 overnight, but Stefanos Tsitsipas clawed one point back by defeating Matteo Berrettini 4-6, 7-6(2), 6-4 in the third match of the tie.

“It was not easy, because it was the most important point,” Bronzetti said. “I felt pressure because I had to win.”

Italy lost its City Final in Brisbane against Poland, but earned a spot in Sydney as the best-placed runner-up. They have taken full advantage, and will now try to lift the trophy on Sunday.

With Greece’s No. 2 women’s singles player Despina Papamichail unable to play, the last-minute substitution of Valentini Grammatikopoulou could have been an advantage: the No.199-ranked 25-year-old had beaten Bronzetti in both of their previous meetings, including in the final of last August’s Vancouver 125 event to seal the biggest title of her career.

However, an unbothered Bronzetti came out in top form, smothering Grammatikopoulou with depth and changes of direction. It was the Greek player who played as though taken by surprise by an unexpected opponent, racking up 15 errors to only three winners in a nervy first set.

Grammatikopoulou settled to make the second a closer contest, pounding away several sharp forehand winners. But Bronzetti responded by raising her own level, breaking in the third game after an off forehand winner followed by a dead net cord. A series of terrific passing shots helped her maintain her lead through to the finish, and an errant Grammatikopoulou drive volley sealed the Italian’s first match point.

“I knew that it would have been a tough match,” Bronzetti said. “I’m proud of myself, because I think that I had a good attitude in the court, and I also played good.”

<a href=''>Stefanos Tsitsipas</a>
Photo Credit: Brendon Thorne/Getty Images

Tsitsipas gave his country a chance when he produced a heroic effort against Berrettini. The Greek kept alive the tie when he rallied past the Italian after two hours and 35 minutes.

“What a great atmosphere out here, I’m loving it,” Tsitsipas said. “We won this together guys.”

For the first half of the No. 1 men’s singles match, Berrettini was in control. Full of confidence after victories against Thiago Monteiro and Top 10 stars Casper Ruud and Hubert Hurkacz earlier in the mixed-teams competition, the Italian used his booming serve and thunderous forehand to keep the Greek on the back foot.

Despite having the racquet taken out of his hand for much of the match, Tsitsipas began to encourage the Ken Rosewall Arena crowd to involve itself midway into the second set. That proved the turning point.

The Greek fans enthusiastically complied, waving flags and supporting its top-ranked male player. Cries of “Hellas! Hellas! Hellas!” began reverberating through the crowd.

“It was personally a great match, a great atmosphere,” Berrettini said. “We knew that in Australia there is a big Greek community, so we felt it yesterday obviously when the No. 1 player was playing. It was even bigger. It was really nice.”

Suddenly, despite being down a set, momentum was on Tsitsipas’ side. Berrettini, who rarely let slip his concentration during the match, misfired throughout the tie-break, which the Greek took full advantage of.

After firing up the crowd, Tsitsipas, who was seemingly hanging on for much of the first two sets, used the support to his advantage. Berrettini earned a break chance at 3-2 in the decider, but missed a forehand up the line. Tsitsipas surged from there to claim his country’s first win of the tie.

“Somehow I hung in there. I was waiting for my chances. He’s a big server as we all know. He hits some bombs consistently, so you have to accept a few and you have to move on from that point, concentrate on your serve,” Tsitsipas said. “I played a very good game in that game that I broke. I was able to play with a lot of intensity and I think my concentration peaked at that particular game.”

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Rublev Learns Adelaide 2 Path

  • Posted: Jan 07, 2023

Rublev Learns Adelaide 2 Path

Three Australian players receive wild cards

Andrey Rublev will aim to bounce back from a disappointing first-round exit at the Adelaide International 1 when he headlines the draw at the Adelaide International 2 this week. The World No. 8, who is the top seed at the ATP 250 event, will face an Australian wild card in his opening match, with the winner of Thanasi Kokkinakis and Alexei Popyrin taking on the 12-time tour-level titlist.

The 25-year-old is seeded to meet sixth seed Miomir Kecmanovic in the quarter-finals. The Serbian begins against the returning Kyle Edmund. Rublev is also joined in the top half by fourth seed Roberto Bautista Agut, with the Spaniard opening against Frenchman Benjamin Bonzi or American Maxime Cressy.

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At the bottom of the draw, second seed Pablo Carreno Busta opens against a qualifier, with fifth seed Daniel Evans a potential quarter-final opponent. The Briton faces American Mackenzie McDonald in the first round and could meet Sebastian Korda in the second round. The 22-year-old Korda, who plays Yoshihito Nishioka in the semi-finals in Adelaide Saturday, opens against Emil Ruusuvuori.

Third seed Karen Khachanov will play Arthur Rinderknech or Marc-Andrea Huesler, while #NextGenATP Briton Jack Draper starts against Lorenzo Sonego. The Next Gen ATP Finals champion Brandon Nakashima will compete for the first time since he lifted the trophy in Milan when he plays seventh-seeded Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. Australian Jason Kubler earned two wins at the United Cup in Sydney. The 29-year-old will look to continue his impressive start to the season against a qualifier.

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Fritz Sends United States Into United Cup Final

  • Posted: Jan 07, 2023

Fritz Sends United States Into United Cup Final

United States holds insurmountable lead against Poland

Team United States sprinted to a 2-0 lead against Team Poland on Friday in the United Cup Final Four, and American Taylor Fritz finished the job Saturday morning.

The reigning BNP Paribas Open champion clawed past Hubert Hurkacz 7-6(5), 7-6(5) in the No. 1 men’s singles match to give his country an insurmountable 3-0 lead. Jessica Pegula upset World No. 1 Iga Swiatek and Frances Tiafoe eased past Kacper Zuk to earn the Americans their first two points. Fritz was followed by Madison Keys, who earned a 6-4, 6-2 triumph against Magda Linette.

“It was great to get the win today to get us through. I had no doubt that if I were to lose that the rest of the team would have come through. But I’ve played with Team USA a lot. I think it’s a huge advantage this time having the girls on our team because it just makes the whole team so much stronger. I’m super excited going into the final and I think we’ve been the favourites all week.”

In the championship match, Team United States will face Team Italy or Team Greece. Italy leads Greece 2-0 in their semi-final tie.

“I think whoever serves better is probably going to get over the line,” Tiafoe predicted for the Fritz-Hurkacz clash Friday afternoon.

That proved prophetic. Fritz won 88 per cent of his first-serve points and was able to manoeuvre into comfortable positions in points behind his serve.

Hurkacz earned two set points on return at 5-4 in the first set. The Pole missed a mid-rally crosscourt forehand on his first opportunity and a forehand return just long on his second. Letting slip those chances proved his downfall.

The tension could be cut with a knife inside Ken Rosewall Arena during the first-set tie-break, as neither man relinquished a mini-break through the first 11 points. Fritz was able to take the initiative on his first set point and forced an error from Hurkacz’s backhand into the net.

Hurkacz also had opportunities to earn the match’s first break at 5-5, 15/40 on Fritz’s serve in the second set, but the American saved them with a big serve and forehand volley. The Pole once again seemed in position to force a decider with two serves at 5/4 in the tie-break, but he missed two forehands, which allowed Fritz to close out the match and with it, the tie.

Keys had split two previous encounters with Linette, both in the last two months. Indeed, Linette’s win had also been in team competition — a 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 win in the Billie Jean King Cup Finals in November.

Both players brought an undefeated United Cup record into the match, and it was Keys who preserved hers with a dominant display of power. She did not face a break point throughout a tight first set while consistently creating chances on return. Though Linette was able to fend off the first two break points she faced, in the second and sixth games, Keys converted her fourth of the day — also a set point — by hammering a backhand return.

A classy drop shot paved the way to Linette’s only break of serve in the first game of the second set, but Keys responded by upping her focus to immediately break back and reel off six of the final seven games of the match.

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