United Cup: Brazil and the USA off to winning starts

United Cup Taylor Fritz Credit: Alamy
United Cup Taylor Fritz Credit: Alamy

Brazil and the United States made winning starts to the United Cup, a joint WTA and ATP mixed teams tournament that kicks off the 2023 season.

Beatriz Haddad Maia found her game quickly to hand Brazil a 1-0 lead over fifth seeds Italy.

The World No 15 claimed a dominant win over Italy’s Martina Trevisan, 6-2, 6-0, on the opening day of the United Cup in Brisbane.

Trevisan spent much of the brief match backpedalling and was able to hold serve just once in seven service games in the match.

Haddad Maia is Brazil’s highest-ranked player and her fine 2022 season is inarguably the reason her nation cracked the nod for the 18-nation tournament.

“We played in the middle of last year and it was three sets,” Haddad Maia said. “I worked very hard to push myself to play my best tennis. I worked very hard in the pre-season to be as ready as I could today.”

Brazil weren’t able to hold onto their lead though as Italy’s Lorenzo Musetti claimed a 6-3, 6-4 victory against Brazilian Felipe Meligeni Rodrigues Alves to level matters.

“I’m happy to be here. We have a great team behind our back and I’m happy to get the first point and to get the first win here in Brisbane,” Musetti said.

“I’m sure tomorrow we will fight. It’s not going to be easy for sure, but we will try our best.”

US No 1 Taylor Fritz opened his nation’s tournament with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Czech Jiri Lehecka.

Madison Keys then backed up the opening win with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Marie Bouzkova that sounds an early warning shot to the other title hopefuls.

Fritz set the tone with a quick win over Lehecka, which he hoped would give the USA momentum.

“In a team event, first match of the year, there are always some nerves coming out, so it is great to come out and get the team ahead,” Fritz said. “Hopefully loosen everyone else up. It is a tough position to play if behind, so it is really good for the team.”

Fritz was able to use his rocket serve to good effect and really zeroed in when he needed to as he saved both break points he faced.

”When I was down, I felt that I was coming up with big serves when I needed the free points,” Fritz said.

“I don’t think from the ground I maybe played my best, but when I was down break point or 0/30 I was coming up with big serves.”

Keys also used her big serve to great effect to put the Americans within one win of claiming the five-match tie.

World No. 3 Jessica Pegula can clinch the victory when she takes WTA No 16 Petra Kvitova on Friday.

READ MORE: What to expect on Day One – 29 December 2022

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