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Sealed With A Selfie: Why Team USA Won The United Cup

  • Posted: Jan 08, 2023

Sealed With A Selfie: Why Team USA Won The United Cup

Escape rooms, mixed practices, head butts and more… Team USA has a blast en route to victory at the United Cup

“I feel like I’m at home with my eight kids. This is like the Brady Bunch,” said Team USA captain David Witt as he sat alongside his triumphant players in their United Cup post-final media conference.

“I had a blast these two weeks. It was a lot of fun. A lot of tennis watching, but I had a blast. You guys are so immature, and I love you for it.”

Underpinned by a sense of camaraderie, a commitment to having fun and its overall team depth, the United States found the winning formula at the inaugural 18-country mixed teams’ event, showcasing a blueprint that others may look to emulate in future years.

The team’s Top 10 No. 1 players Taylor Fritz and Jessica Pegula dropped just one singles match each during the tournament. No. 2 players Frances Tiafoe and Madison Keys combined to win all 10 singles matches they played.

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World No. 9 Fritz clinched Sunday’s final for Team USA with a tight 7-6(4), 7-6(6) win over Matteo Berrettini after also taking out Polish No. 1 Hubert Hurkacz in two tie-breaks in the semi-finals.

“It’s just so much more exciting, there’s so much more emotions,” Fritz said. “You can celebrate with your whole team as opposed to just celebrating by yourself. As soon as I won, I turned to the team and I knew everyone was going to run at me. It was great until Frances full speed head-butted me in the face.”

Pegula, who stunned Polish World No. 1 Iga Swiatek in the semi-finals and gave Team USA a lead-off 1-0 advantage in the final, said that the camaraderie within the team was instrumental in its success.

“We’ve had a really great, like eternity, in Sydney,” she said “It’s been really fun though. We have been bonding a lot, I feel like getting to know each other a lot.

“We did three escape rooms in one week. Literally everyone last night was [saying], ‘We need to do an escape room again to keep the team chemistry going. I did not think that was going to happen coming into this. Hey, here we are. It was fun.”

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Matched by Greece (Stefanos Tsitsipas and Maria Sakkari) and Poland (Swiatek and Hurkacz) with Top 10 stars playing at No. 1, the United States had a clear edge in the No. 2 singles, where World No. 11 Keys and World No. 19 Tiafoe each won their five singles matches for the loss of just one set each.

Nobody enjoyed the mixed teams’ format more than Tiafoe, who said that he hopes to continue his practice sessions with Pegula in 2023. “You will see a lot of Pegula-Tiafoe practices from this point until whenever she wants to hang it up and I want to hang it up,” the Maryland native said. “She’s definitely risen my level to a whole other level. She’s unbelievable. Happy I got to hit with her, happy I got to see ‘Clinch Fritz’ and Madison Keys do their thing.

“It’s been a special week. Everybody behind me too. Yeah, it takes a village to do something special. It’s been a hell of a week.”

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Djokovic Saves Championship Point, Beats Korda For Adelaide Title

  • Posted: Jan 08, 2023

Djokovic Saves Championship Point, Beats Korda For Adelaide Title

Serbian claims 92nd tour-level trophy

Novak Djokovic was down on Sunday evening in Adelaide and nearly out when he faced championship point against Sebastian Korda. But in trademark fashion the Serbian found a way to win his 92nd tour-level title.

Djokovic saved championship point at 5-6 in the second set before rallying past the American 6-7(8), 7-6(3), 6-4 after a gruelling three hours and nine minutes. After Korda missed a final forehand long, Djokovic tapped his right index finger to his head as a nod to his resilience.

“It’s been an amazing week and you guys made it even more special. For me to be standing here is a gift, definitely,” Djokovic told the crowd during the trophy ceremony. “I gave it all today and throughout the week in order to be able to get my hands on the trophy.

“The support that I’ve been getting in the past 10 days is something that I don’t think I’ve experienced too many times in my life, so thank you so much [to] everyone for coming out every single match.”

The 35-year-old is now tied with Rafael Nadal for the fourth-most men’s singles titles in the Open Era, trailing only Jimmy Connors (109), Roger Federer (103) and Ivan Lendl (94). He has won 34 consecutive matches in Australia since the start of 2019 and 23 of his past 24 matches overall.

Djokovic had treatment on his left leg during Saturday’s semi-final win against Daniil Medvedev in South Australia, but he moved well in an intense baseline exchange on the first point of the match that set the tone for an absorbing clash.

The former World No. 1 praised Korda’s clean ball-striking ahead of the match, and that proved deserved as the American played fearless baseline tennis to take the action to the Serbian. With Djokovic serving at 5-6, 30/40 in the second set, Korda needed just one more clutch strike to earn the biggest win of his career.

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But Djokovic took the initiative in the point and finished it off by putting away a tricky overhead. From there, he surged through the tie-break and forced a decider.

Despite the disappointment of letting slip his opportunity, Korda continued to battle. The No. 33 player in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings saved two break points at 1-2 and slowed down Djokovic’s momentum. 

But at 5-4 in the third set with Korda serving, Djokovic pounced on his first chance to seal his victory. The top seed, who also lifted a trophy in Adelaide in 2007, won 85 per cent of his first-serve points in the match and converted two of his seven break points. He again praised his opponent after the match.

“Amazing tournament, amazing effort today. I’d probably say that you were closer to victory today than I was,” Djokovic said. “It was decided in one or two shots, one or two points. Tough luck today, but the future is bright for you, so just keep going, and you’re an amazing player. Well done.”

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After 3-Year Wait, ATP Tour Returns To Auckland

  • Posted: Jan 08, 2023

After 3-Year Wait, ATP Tour Returns To Auckland

Ruud, Norrie lead field at ATP 250

“Ready, play.”

For two years, the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted New Zealand. With international borders closed, the opportunity for the country to host major sporting events, including the ASB Classic, was taken away.

However, good news arrived in July last year when the borders reopened to all visitors, sparking ‘go time’ for ASB Classic Tournament Director Nicolas Lamperin. Having seen most of the tournament staff depart in the previous two years, Lamperin knew that getting the ATP Tour back to Auckland by the second week of January would be no small feat.

“As soon as we got the green light that the borders would reopen in the middle of last year, we then put a plan together to restart the tournament,” Lamperin told

“A lot of work had to be done because most of the people who were working at the tournament back in 2020 have left. It was all about building a new team, reconnecting with the sponsors, all of our stakeholders, and putting a plan together. Also speaking to the players and making sure they knew that the tournament was back and that we will be up to the standards that they were used to.”

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Having not held the ATP 250 event since 2020, a lot of work has gone into making the ASB Tennis Arena ready again. Lamperin is delighted with the progress in recent months, stressing the importance of the event for New Zealand.

“I think the ASB Classic is probably considered the biggest sporting event in New Zealand,” Lamperin said. “There’s a lot of excitement. In all the discussions that we’ve had with corporate, fans and sponsors, they couldn’t wait for the tournament to be back. The setup is also pretty unique here. You can have hospitality courtside while watching the top players in the world.

“We are very excited to be here and to able to start the tournament on Monday.”

Photo Credit: Andrew Cornaga / @photosportnz
After a successful weekend of qualifying, the main draw kicks off Monday. Fans will get the opportunity to watch World No. 3 Casper Ruud and second seed Cameron Norrie play, with experienced stars Fabio Fognini, Richard Gasquet, John Isner and Diego Schwartzman also in action.

“We are very honoured to welcome the World No. 3 Casper Ruud,” Lamperin said. “Cam Norrie is the second seed. Cam grew up in New Zealand from the age of three before departing for the UK when he was 17, so I think that the crowd is really looking forward to him. Then we have Diego Schwartzman, Richard Gasquet, Fabio Fognini and John Isner. We call John Mr. Loyal because he has been here many, many times and won the tournament twice.”


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World No. 14 Norrie reached the final in Auckland in 2019, while 15-time tour-level titlist Richard Gasquet is making his debut in New Zealand. Both are impressed with the setup at the ATP 250 and are looking forward to competing.

“I’ve played well here before. I made the final in 2019, my first ever final, so it’s pretty special to be back here,” Norrie said. “Especially kind of playing a bit better, playing at the level I am.”

“It is my first time here. I have played many tournaments in my life but I have never played here,” Gasquet said. “I am excited to discover Auckland and New Zealand and it is a really nice tournament and I am really happy to be here.”

With excitement building, fans will fill the stands to watch the players battle it out over the next week for the honour to lift the trophy on Saturday.

Photo Credit: Andrew Cornaga / @photosportnz

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Glasspool/Heliovaara Start 2023 In Style With Adelaide Triumph

  • Posted: Jan 08, 2023

Glasspool/Heliovaara Start 2023 In Style With Adelaide Triumph

British-Finnish duo dropped one set all week at ATP 250 event

Lloyd Glasspool and Harri Heliovaara capped an impressive first week to their 2023 season on Sunday at the Adelaide International 1, where the British-Finnish duo downed Jamie Murray and Michael Venus 6-3, 7-6(3) to claim its third ATP Tour title together.

The third-seeded team had dropped just one set en route to the final at the ATP 250 event and took control of the championship match by reeling off four games in a row from 2-3 in the opening set.

A tighter second set featured no break points, but Glasspool and Heliovaara again found a hot streak to claim four points in a row from 3/3 in the tie-break. Strong serving was key to the third seeds’ 79-minute victory — they won 83 per cent (30/36) of points behind their first delivery, compared to 68 per cent (34/50) for the fourth-seeded Murray and Venus.

”It was a very solid week from us,” said Heliovaara after the match. “Even that set that we lost [in the semi-finals], we had three set points. We were a little bit disappointed that we didn’t actually cross the whole week [without losing a set], but it was just so enjoyable playing… I think we had a good feeling after every match that we did what we are supposed to do, nothing special.

”If this is our level going forward, I’m really looking forward to the rest of the year.”

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Glasspool and Heliovarra enjoyed a stellar first season playing together on the ATP Tour in 2022. They reached seven tour-level finals and claimed their maiden ATP 500 title at the Hamburg European Open. That consistency helped the pair qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin, where it reached the semi-finals on tournament debut.

“Obviously last year was an amazing year,” said Glasspool. “This is a completely new year, everyone’s coming to beat us this year. I was a little nervous starting out, it had been a month and a half and we hadn’t played a match… But all the practice paid off and we came out and played really well. I’m really happy with where we are at to start the year.”

The victory is set to lift 33-year-old Heliovaara into the Top 10 of the Pepperstone ATP Doubles Rankings for the first time on Monday. The Finn could rise as high as No. 9, while his partner Glasspool maintains his position at No. 12.

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Pegula Makes Quick Start For United States In United Cup Final

  • Posted: Jan 08, 2023

Pegula Makes Quick Start For United States In United Cup Final

Tiafoe will try to extend his country’s lead over Italy

Jessica Pegula kicked off the United Cup final by giving the United States a 1-0 lead over Italy with a 6-4, 6-2 defeat of Martina Trevisan.

Despite the straight-sets scoreline, the contest was far from straightforward for the WTA World No. 3. Trevisan came out firing with an ultra-aggressive strategy, and remained committed to front-foot tennis throughout.

Pegula, normally an excellent proponent of these tactics herself, was forced onto the back foot more than usual. Though the American led 3-0 and then 4-2 in the first set, Trevisan managed to level at 4-4 after coming up with a series of fizzing forehands.

Ironically after this pattern, the set turned on a rare shot that Trevisan backed off. Serving at 4-5, 30/30, a tentative drive volley allowed Pegula to crunch a forehand of her own to reach set point. The American promptly converted it with a superb backhand winner down the line.

Pegula settled in the second set, reducing her unforced error tally from 17 to seven while eliciting mistakes from Trevisan with canny court craft. Trevisan’s do-or-die approach ultimately didn’t pay off as the WTA World No. 27 racked up 31 unforced errors against 14 winners.

Trevisan went down swinging, finding another sequence of crowd-pleasing winners to cut Pegula’s 5-0 lead to 5-2. But Pegula remained solid to close out the second set in an identical manner to the first: with a pinpoint backhand down the line.

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First-Time Winner Spotlight: Tallon Griekspoor

  • Posted: Jan 08, 2023

First-Time Winner Spotlight: Tallon Griekspoor

Dutchman grinds through two hour, 16 minute final to grab Pune crown

Tallon Griekspoor started the new year in the best way possible. The 26-year-old dropped just one set all week en route to claiming his maiden Tour-level title at the Tata Open Maharashtra in Pune, India. In the championship match, the Dutchman rallied from a set down to defeat Frenchman Benjamin Bonzi 4-6, 7-5, 6-3. caught up with the World No. 61 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings to discuss his family’s sports background, his standout finals record on the Challenger Tour, and how he will celebrate his big breakthrough.

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What does it mean to you to win your first ATP Tour title?
It means everything to me. It’s something you dream of and work for. There’s so many people involved, my family, my brothers, that mean the world to me. To do this also for them, means the world to me, I couldn’t be more happy.

Entering this event after the offseason, your first event of 2023, how did you feel about your chances of finishing as the champion and lifting the trophy?
You never know after the offseason how you will play. I worked my ass off at home during the offseason. I was playing well in practices but you never know how you’re going to be in the matches. I came to Pune early, had five or six good practice days and I think that helped me a lot.

This was your first ATP final, but you were 8-0 in finals at the ATP Challenger Tour level last year. Did this feel much different to those previous title matches?
I had a good record on the Challenger Tour in finals, so I would say I know I how to play to finals. It’s tough, it’s a fight for every point, there’s more pressure than normal, especially my first ATP Tour final. It wasn’t easy but I think I handled it pretty well. Maybe those Challenger finals helped me as well to stay calm and know what to do in the final.

Even before reaching the final, you made history here along with Botic van de Zandschulp as the first two Dutchmen to reach the semis at the same ATP Tour event since 2004. What does it mean to you to be represent the Netherlands with success like that?
It means a lot to do well for Dutch tennis. Botic and I are doing well and then Tim [Van Rijthoven] won the ATP event in Holland [in 2022], so we have a good group of guys. We did really well in the Davis Cup last year. We support each other and make each other better, that’s important to us. Hopefully there’s a lot more trophies coming.

How did growing up in a big sports family help you to get to the level you are at now on the ATP Tour?
That helped a lot to have a sports family, especially having two older brothers who played tennis as well. I’ve always had them to look up to, they are five years older, they were always better than me until a certain age. I would always practise with them, travel with them, having that sports background means a lot. My family is probably as happy as I am at the moment.

Your father is a former motocross driver and you are a big Formula 1 fan… you’ve even said that if you weren’t a tennis player you’d like to be an F1 driver. What similarities do you see between the two sports?
I’m a big fan of Formula 1 but I think at this point I’m happy that I’m a tennis player. I love the competition the guys have, especially at this point when we have Max Verstappen in Holland, he’s probably the biggest sports hero we have. I think pushing yourself to the limit is what it takes in both sports.

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You have been very focussed on the court this week. How does your off-court personality compare to what we see in between the lines?
The focus and attitude was really well this week. I pushed myself and put a lot of time in during the offseason, it looks like it paid off. Outside the court, I’m more of a joker guy and not so calm. I like to talk and I’m basically good with everyone. I’m probably a different person between the lines on the court and off-court, but I’m enjoying both parts.

Who are some of your best friends or players you enjoy spending time with on the Tour?
The Dutch guys. There are not too many of them but we spend a lot of time together. We practise basically every day together at home when we’re there. Having those guys around, doing well, especially the past year-and-a-half, helps us a lot. It’s a good feeling.

When did you first start to dream of winning titles on the ATP Tour?
You always have this dream of winning [titles]. But in 2021, when I had this Challenger run of eight titles, at that point I thought it became realistic to start dreaming of winning an ATP title. It was my goal for this year, but I never would’ve thought I’d get it on 7 January, that’s crazy. I’m happy that dream came true today.

How will you celebrate this milestone moment in your career?
Well, I have a long flight in front of me to Melbourne. With my coach, we will definitely have a drink, have a nice dinner, maybe at the airport. At this moment, I really don’t care, I’m really happy. Probably have a nice dinner in Melbourne and celebration there.

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