SYDNEY (AP) – The United States (US) claimed the inaugural United Cup yesterday in convincing fashion with an overpowering display over Italy in the final of the mixed teams event.
Number nine-ranked Taylor Fritz gave the US an unassailable 3-0 lead in the best-of-five matchup when edging former Wimbledon finalist Matteo Berrettini 7-6 (4), 7-6 (7).
The Indian Wells Masters champion failed to convert nine break points but faced none on his own serve and proved the steadier player in the two tiebreakers.
He was mobbed by his teammates at Ken Rosewall Arena after clinching the title for the Americans.
“We came in with really high hopes before the start of the event and I was really happy to be in the position to clinch the match and just the emotions when you win and everyone comes running at you, it is amazing,” Fritz said.
“We have gotten a lot of team bonding this week and it was a lot of fun.”
Jessica Pegula put the US on the path to victory by beating Martina Trevisan 6-4, 6-2, continuing her strong form, which included a win over top-ranked Iga Swiatek on Friday.
Frances Tiafoe, a 2022 US Open semifinalist, extended the lead when Lorenzo Musetti withdrew with a shoulder injury after losing the first set of their match 6-2.
The singles match between Madison Keys and Lucia Bronzetti was rendered a dead rubber in terms of the title, though ranking points and prize money were on offer.
The US were considered favourites for the 18-nation tournament based on the strength of a team where all four singles players were ranked inside the world’s top 20.
Heading into the final, the US had lost just two of the 20 rubbers they played in ties against the Czech Republic, Germany, Great Britain and Poland. Dual-Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova defeated Pegula in the opening tie of the event, while 2022 Wimbledon semifinalist Cameron Norrie beat Fritz in three sets on January 4.
Similarly to Fritz’s 7-6, 7-6 victory over Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz on Saturday, the clash between Fritz and Berrettini was dominated by serving.
But Berrettini, who fell in three sets to Stefanos Tsitsipas in a semifinal against Greece on Saturday, lost his composure early in the first tiebreaker and late in the second to give Fritz the victory.
“I had a lot of chances in there and he kept playing so well on those chances, so he made it really tough for me,” Fritz said.
Pegula claimed the first three games against Trevisan and then withstood a challenge from the number 27-ranked player late in the first set on the way to a solid victory.