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Day 4 United Cup Preview: Can host Australia topple USA in Perth?

France and Croatia begin campaigns at mixed-teams event

December 31, 2023

Australia's Ajla Tomljanovic faces American Jessica Pegula on Monday at Perth's RAC Arena.

Paul Kane/Getty Images

Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic faces American Jessica Pegula on Monday at Perth’s RAC Arena.
By ATP Staff

Ajla Tomljanovic and Alex de Minaur will look to turn their respective singles fortunes when Australia bids to keep its United Cup campaign alive against Team USA on Monday night in Perth.

Top 10 Americans Jessica Pegula and Taylor Fritz guided their nation to success in the inaugural competition in 2023 and eked out a 2-1 victory over Great Britain on Sunday. They present a sizeable challenge after the Australians dropped both singles matches in a 1-2 defeat to Great Britain on Friday night.

After denying the Brits in the mixed doubles, Western Australians Storm Hunter and Matt Ebden require their singles counterparts to secure at least one of their showdowns to give them a chance at closing it out and keeping their team in the hunt for the quarter-finals.

ATP World No. 11 De Minaur owns a 4-3 record against Fritz, including a win in their sole meeting last year en route to the Toronto Masters final.

“Now it’s about bouncing back,” said De Minaur, whose team needs to win 3-0, or win 2-1 with a set score of 4-2, 5-2, or 5-3, in order to pip the Americans and win the group. “Kind of water off a duck’s back. Move on. Yeah, I’ve got that match to look forward to, and, you know, hopefully I can come out and bring a high level and perform for my country in front of this crowd in Perth.”

Like Pegula, Fritz was part of the successful Team USA campaign at the 2023 United Cup, and she will hope to respond well on a personal level against Tomljanovic after she fell to Katie Boulter in her 2024 season opener.

The first action of the new year in Perth will be a Group A-decider between Poland and Spain. Both teams carry a 1-0 record into the clash, which will see WTA World No. 1 Iga Swiatek and Hubert Hurkacz aim to maintain their country’s perfect start at this year’s United Cup.

“[I’m] glad that Hubi is playing first!” joked Swiatek on Saturday when asked about taking on Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo on New Year’s Day. “[I] played [Sorribes Tormo] in Beijing not too long ago. It’s always tough against her because she’s fighting for every point and running, getting back every shot.”

ATP World No. 9 Hurkacz opens the day against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina at RAC Arena, where he began his 2024 season with victory against Brazil’s Thiago Seyboth Wild on Saturday. Poland will also be confident if the tie goes to a mixed-doubles decider — Hurkacz and Swiatek have racked up a 3-0 record together across their country’s two United Cup campaigns so far.

In Sydney, France and Croatia aim to kick-start their campaigns at the mixed teams event. Donna Vekic and Norway’s Malene Helgo open the New Year’s Day action inside Ken Rosewall Arena, before Borna Coric and Casper Ruud play the ATP singles match in the Group F tie. Norway is looking to rally after its opening 1-2 defeat to the Netherlands.

The evening session in the New South Wales capital will bring together European neighbours France and Germany. Alexander Zverev faces Adrian Mannarino, who enjoyed the best season of his career in 2023 by winning three ATP Tour titles. Angelique Kerber then meets WTA World No. 20 Caroline Garcia, who will seek to deny the German her first victory since giving birth to her daughter Liana. Germany can secure top spot in Group D by winning the tie.

ORDER OF PLAY – MONDAY, JANUARY 01, 2024

KEN ROSEWALL ARENA start 10:30 am
[6] D. Vekic (CRO) vs [14] M. Helgo (NOR)
[6] B. Coric (CRO) vs [14] C. Ruud (NOR)
[6] D. Vekic (CRO) / I. Dodig (CRO) vs [14] U. Eikeri (NOR) / C. Ruud (NOR)

Not Before 5:30 pm
[4] A. Mannarino (FRA) vs [16] A. Zverev (GER)

Not Before 7:00 pm
[4] C. Garcia (FRA) vs [16] A. Kerber (GER)
[4] C. Garcia (FRA) / E. Roger-Vasselin (FRA) vs [16] L. Siegemund (GER) / M. Marterer (GER)

RAC ARENA start 10:00 am
[1] H. Hurkacz (POL) vs [11] A. Davidovich Fokina (ESP)
[1] I. Swiatek (POL) vs [11] S. Sorribes Tormo (ESP)
[1] I. Swiatek (POL) / H. Hurkacz (POL) vs [11] S. Sorribes Tormo (ESP) / A. Davidovich Fokina (ESP)

Not Before 5:00 pm
[3] T. Fritz (USA) vs [15] A. de Minaur (AUS)
[3] J. Pegula (USA) vs [15] A. Tomljanovic (AUS)
[3] J. Pegula (USA) / T. Fritz (USA) vs [15] S. Hunter (AUS) / M. Ebden (AUS)





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