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U.S. sweeps Germany, clinches Sydney city final berth at United Cup

Victoria Chiesa | January 02, 2023


When play began on Monday, the U.S. needed only two wins out of five matches against Germany to advance to the next stage of the United Cup in Sydney. By the end of the two-day tie, it had won all five.

 

In a combined effort by Taylor Fritz, Madison Keys, Jessica Pegula and Frances Tiafoe, the Americans lost just one set in a 5-0 win to advance to the final of the Sydney pool. The U.S. will face Great Britain, the Group D winners, for a spot in the overall semifinals.

 

Fritz and Keys defeated Alexander Zverev and Jule Niemeier, respectively, on Monday to clinch the top spot in Group C and assure that their team would advance. Pegula's victory over Laura Siegemund on Tuesday secured the Americans' overall victory, and she and Tiafoe were responsible for all three points on Day 2. 

Day 1: Fritz dominates Zverev to stay perfect in 2023

Having beaten the Czech Republic 4-1 in its opening tie, the U.S. knew exactly what it had to do to reach the next stage, and both Fritz and Keys dropped just five games against the respective opponents to clinch the U.S.'s berth in the city final. 

 

Fritz opened with a 6-1, 6-4 win over Zverev, just his third in seven tries against the former world No. 2 who played his first event since Roland Garros this week.

 

Fritz never lost serve and broke three times to improve to 2-0 on the young season; he struck eight aces, and lost just one point behind his first serve in 64 minutes. 

 

Afterwards, the world No. 9—who came into the match ranked higher than Zverev for the first time in their head-to-head history—kept the result in perspective.

"I think it was tough to judge my level because I do feel like he's coming back from injury, he's a bit rusty," Fritz said in victory. "He was giving me a good amount of free points. I'm really happy with it. I'm sure it won't take him too long for him to kind of fully get his form back."

 

Keys was equally efficient in 71 minutes to improve to 2-0 in 2023 herself. Niemeier double-faulted three times in the match's first game to help Keys earn the break, and she hardly looked back from then on.  

 

"I think I played pretty well today. I think kind of similar to Taylor, I got a lot of free points. I don't think she'll be absolutely thrilled with how she played today. At the same time, I had to take care of my side of the net. I think I did that pretty well," Keys said. "I kept the pressure on her, was able to play a pretty solid match."

 

Day 2: Pegula posts first win of 2023

Shaking off an opening loss against Petra Kvitova in the U.S.'s first tie, Pegula posted her fist singles victory of the new season with a 6-3, 6-2 win against Siegemund. The win was her first in singles since she won the biggest title of her career, the WTA 1000 in Guadalajara, in October, and snapped a four-match losing streak that began at the year-end WTA Finals. 

 

Pegula lost just 10 points in eight service games, and broke Siegemund four times in 80 minutes.

"I thought the conditions were playing very fast, so I just tried my best to play quick 1-2 tennis, serving well, first ball being aggressive," Pegula said. "I thought I did that well."

 

Tiafoe followed with a 7-5, 6-4 win over Oscar Otte, and he and Pegula partnered to finish off the sweep against Siegemund and Daniel Altmeier in mixed doubles, 6-7(5), 6-4, [10-7].

 

Though it played no role in the result officially, Tiafoe said playing with Pegula was an early-season highlight.

 

"She's turned me down like 30 times to play," he joked afterwards. "Regardless of what happened out there, the ups and downs, I wanted to get the win at the end.

 

"It was fun. She's a good player. Fun to be out there with a player of her caliber."

The winner of the city final between the U.S. and Great Britain, to be played on Jan. 4, will advance to the overall semifinals this weekend. Keys will face Katie Swan before Fritz plays Cameron Norrie in a match between the last two champions of the BNP Paribas Open. Pegula and Tiafoe will face Harriet Dart and Dan Evans, respectively, and Pegula and Tiafoe have been nominate to face Dart and Evans in mixed doubles. Nominations can still change.

 

"They really have a tough team. I think even after the first round or whatever, group play, you could kind of see they were going to be really tough," Pegula said. "I think they probably like the conditions. It's a little quick.

 

"Every match is going to be super tough. I'm hoping we will go out there and take care of business tomorrow, but it's going to be a battle, for sure."

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