Americans face Germany, Czech Republic in Group C
Team USA has reason to feel confident on the eve of the United Cup. The Americans have sent a team to Sydney that sees No.11 Madison Keys and No.19 Frances Tiafoe as their No.2 singles players behind No.3 Jessica Pegula and No.9 Taylor Fritz. In fact, the Americans are the only team in the entire 18-team competition to boast a total of four Top 20 players.
“I think we have a great team,” Tiafoe told reporters on Media Day. “Hopefully we can win it. Hopefully Taylor, Jess and Madi can carry me. It’s easy to compete when it’s not about you.”
The United States is the top seed in Group C, which also features a Petra Kvitova-led Czech Republic, and Germany.
“I think it’s an interesting group, especially with the United States,” said Germany’s captain Mischa Zverev. “They have very strong male and female players who have performed well over the last months.
“I don’t want to say we’re not the favorites, because we have a very strong team, but I think it will be very important to use all our little tricks to win those games. I don’t want to say winning ugly is important, but in a team, you have to use everything you can to distract the other player, in a fair manner of course, but use your strength and win those ties.”
The Americans will open play on Day 1 against the Czech Republic. Coming off a short off-season after a run to the semifinals of the ATP Finals and representing the USA at Davis Cup, Fritz will take on 21-year-old Jiri Lehecka. Ranked No.84, Lehecka finished his 2022 season by making the final at the Next Gen Finals.
“It would have been nice to have more time to dive back into the new season but I’m ready to go,” Fritz said. “It’s always fun to start with a team competition. We have an extremely strong team.”
The WTA match will feature the second meeting between Keys and No.24 Marie Bouzkova. Australia has been fertile ground for Keys, who made her first major semifinal in Melbourne in 2015 and repeated the feat last January. She also picked up her last title in Adelaide a year ago.
“I lost to Madison here three years ago in Brisbane,” Bouzkova said. “It’s a hard match to start the season but I think it’s a great first test to get going here.”
Day 2 will see the WTA No.1s go head-to-head, as Pegula takes on Kvitova. Having finished her season with her first WTA 1000 title in Guadalajara and qualifying for the WTA Finals in singles and doubles, Pegula shook off any concern of a fatigue-hangover to start the season.
“It’s always a tough turnaround but I think the guys had even less time,” Pegula said. “For me, it felt like it was enough.
“A lot of us had to fly over Christmas and that’s not fun. But coming and starting the year with a team event it’s a different energy, maybe more relaxed, more of a fun atmosphere, a little less stressful.”
Source: Atp Tour