Stefanos Tsitsipas and Maria Sakkari lead the Greek team in the first edition of the United Cup - UBITENNIS
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Stefanos Tsitsipas and Maria Sakkari lead the Greek team in the first edition of the United Cup



The field for the inaugural edition of the United Cup is set. Bulgaria and Kazakhstan have joined the 18-country line-up of the annual mixed team event, which will take place across three Australian cities Brisbane, Perth and Sydney from Thursday 29 December to Sunday 8 January 2023. 


Bulgaria will join Greece and Belgium in Group A in Perth. World number 4 Stefanos Tsitsipas will take on former world number 3 Grigor Dimitrov in the opening session on 29th December at RAC Arena in Perth. Dimitrov and Tsitsipas won the Nitto ATP Finals respectively in 2017 and 2019. Tsitsipas won two consecutive editions of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters in 2021 and 2022. The Greek team features Maria Sakkari, who reached the semifinals at Roland Garros, at the US Open and at the WTA Finals in 2021. 

Greece fields top 5 players on both the men’s and the women’s side despite the population of just more than 6 million people. 

“Mainly what I am excited about is that Greece is a very small country, as I mentioned many times. We will be probably the number 1 seeds, if our rankings stay the same. I think it’s pretty special for our country like this to have. If we are the number 1 or number 2 seed in the United Cup, I think it’s enormous. Just a country like Greece in front of all the big countries like the USA, England, France and Germany. Just to have a country the leader of that Cup, it’s big”, said Sakkari. 

Belgium will be led by Elise Mertens, semifinalist at the Australian Open in 2018 and quarter finalist at the US Open in 2019 and 2020, and David Goffin, who finished runner-up to Dimitrov at the 2017 ATP Finals. 

Kazakhstan will take Poland and Switzerland in Group B in Brisbane. 

Reigning Olympic gold medallist Belinda Bencic will face Kazakshstan’s Yulia Putintseva at Pat Rafter Arena on day one in Brisbane. Bencic recently won the Billie Jean King Cup in Glasgow. In this group Poland will feature world number 1 Iga Swiatek, who won two French Open titles in 2020 and 2022 and the US Open title in 2022, and 2021 Miami Masters 1000 champion Hubert Hurkacz. 

The United States will clash against Germany and Czech Republic in Group C. Jessica Pegula, who reached three Grand Slam quarter finals at the Australian Open, French Open and US Open in 2022, is set to face two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova. The best US men’s players in the line-up are Nitto ATP Finals semifinalist Taylor Fritz and US Open semifinalist Frances Tiafoe. 

Olympic gold medallist and two-time ATP Finals champion Alexander Zverev and Laura Siegemund are the top names in the German team. 

Spain has been drawn against Australia and Great Britain in Group D in Sydney. This year’s Australian Open and Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal is set to play against 2022 Wimbledon champion Nick Kyrgios in an early season blockbuster match. Nadal is also joined by 2021 Indian Wells champion Paula Badosa, Pablo Carreno Busta and Albert Ramos Vinolas. Kyrgios will team up with Ajla Tomljanovic, Sam Stosur and Alex De Minaur, who won six ATP titles in his career (Sydney, Atlanta and Zhuhai in 2019, Eastbourne and Antalya in 2021 and Atlanta in 2022). 

Kyrgios won the 2016 Hopman Cup alongside Daria Gavrilova. 

“I think it’s a great initiative. Those are important events to have, especially for the crowd, to see how the top female and top male, whoever enters, can play for the country. I have some great memories. I won the Hopman Cup one year and it was probably one of the cooler memories of my career. I think it’s going to be a good event”, said Kyrgios. 

The British team will be formed by 2021 Indian Wells champion Cameron Norrie, Daniel Evans and Harriet Dart and Katie Swan. 

In Group E in Brisbane this year’s Nitto ATP Finals runner-up Casper Ruud will clash against Italy’s Matteo Berrettini, who reached the 2021 Wimbeldon final and won two grass titles in Stuttgart and Queen’s in 2022. Berrettini will be joined in the Italian team by Lorenzo Musetti, who won the first two ATP titles of his career in Hamburg and Neaples and reached the quarter finals at the Masters 1000 tournament in Paris Bercy, and Martina Trevisan, who reached the semifinal at Roland Garros in 2022. The Group E is completed by Brazil, which features Beatriz Haddad and Thiago Monteiro. 

France will play against 2021 Davis Cup finalist Croatia and Argentina in Perth. The French team is led by this year’s WTA Finals champion Caroline Garcia, Alizé Cornet, Arthur Rinderknech and Adrian Mannarino. 

This year’s Cincinnati Open Borna Coric will be joined in the Croatian team by Petra Martic, Donna Vekic and Borna Gojo. Diego Schwartzman will team up with Francisco Cerundolo and Nadia Podoroska in the Argentine team. 

Each host city will feature two groups of three countries, competing in round-robin format. Each tie will include two men’s and two women’s singles matches and one mixed doubles match to be played across two days. The winners of each group advance to the United Cup Final Four in Sydney. The next-best performing team from the group stages will advance as the fourth team. 

The top six WTA ranking-qualified countries, top five ATP ranking.qualified countries and the top five combined entry countries have been admitted to the competition.  

Three City Champions will advance to the United Cup Final Four to be played at Ken Rosewall Arena in Brisbane from Friday 6 to Sunday 8 January. 

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Injury-Hit Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova Reaches French Open Quarters



Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova said ‘anything is possible’ after winning her marathon fourth round match against Elise Mertens at the French Open on Sunday. 


Pavlychenkova, who reached the finals of Roland Garros in 2021, bounced back from a set down to beat 28th seed Elise Mertens 3-6, 7-6(3), 6-3, after more than three hours of play. The Russian struggled early on in the match after winning just two out of her first six service games. She found herself down 3-6, 1-3 (0-40), at one stage before producing a triumphant comeback. Overall, she hit 50 winners alongside 48 unforced errors. 

“I’m really proud of myself. It was an incredible match,” Pavlychenova said on the court afterwards. “Losing the first set and in the end, finding the strength to win.’
“I’m glad to be here playing on this court (Phillippe Chartier) again, especially after my injury. I didn’t play for a year so I am very happy to be here.”

The win comes after what has been a turbulent battle for Pavlychenkova over the past year with her fitness. In 2022 she missed eight months of the Tour due to a serious knee injury which prohibited her from walking or even sitting down. Fearing for the future of her career, she underwent successful knee surgery. 

Since beginning her comeback in January, the 31-year-old had only won eight matches in nine tournaments played, which include two at the ITF level, coming into Paris. Despite this, she has regained her form at Roland Garros with Mertens being the third consecutive top 30 player she has beaten after Liudmila Samsonova and Anastasia Potapova. 

“I was sure that I could do that,” she commented on her resurgence. “I’ve enjoyed playing here in Paris ever since I was a junior, especially on this court. I think mentally I am stronger than before. We will see where it goes from here.”

A former world No.11 player, Pavlychenkova’s belief in her game is still as high as ever as she refuses to rule out the possibility that she could stun the tournament by lifting the trophy next Sunday. 

“I think anything is possible, that’s why I’m here and that’s why I came back after my injury,” she stated. 
“Since last year in November, it has been difficult. But I’ve been practising well and I thank my team for getting me in this position.”

Currently ranked 333rd in the world, Pavlychenkova is the lower-ranked player to reach the last eight of a Grand Slam since Kaia Kanepi at the 2017 US Open. She will next play either Karolína Muchová or Elina Avanesyan. 

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Doubles Pair Disqualified From French Open Match



A women’s doubles match at the French Open on Sunday ended in tears with one of the pair being disqualified midway through the second set.

Miyu Kato and Aldila Sutjiadi were facing Sara Sorribes Tormo and Marie Bouzková in the third round. After losing the opening set in a tiebreaker, the pairing worked their way to a 3-1 lead in the second before the match came to a sudden end.

After the end of a game, Kato hit a ball to the other end of the court which accidentally struck a ball girl in the head. The umpire then initially issued a warning to Kato. However, a protest from Tormo and Bouzkova who pointed out that the ball girl was crying resulted in the tournament supervisor being called to the court. Both Tormo and Bouzkova were heard saying that Kato should receive a default.


 After a discussion, it was decided that Kato and Sutjiadi would be defaulted from the match due to a violation of the rules, giving the opponents the win. Naturally upset by the accident, Kato was left in tears when informed about the decision with her partner consoling her.

Kato did speak with the ball girl shortly after the incident to make sure she was fine. This occurred before the supervisor entered the court. 

According to the Grand Slam rulebook, ball abuse is defined as ‘intentionally hitting a ball out of the enclosure of the court, hitting a ball dangerously or recklessly within the court or hitting a ball with negligent disregard of the consequences.”

It is not the first time a player has been defaulted from a Grand Slam match after accidentally hitting an official on the court. The most famous incident was when Novak Djokovic was defaulted from his fourth round match against Pablo Carreno Busta at the 2020 US Open after hitting a ball hit a female lines judge in the neck. He was later fined $10,000 for unsportsmanlike conduct.

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Grand Slam Glory Is The Main Goal For America’s Coco Gauff



Cori Gauff - Australian Open 2023 (Twitter @AustralianOpen)

 Coco Gauff has big aspirations and she isn’t afraid to speak openly about them. 


Following her second round win over Julia Grabher at the French Open on Thursday, the 19-year-old played down the fixation on her current ranking which is No.6 in the world. Gauff admits that her position is something that doesn’t concern her in the sport unless she is sitting at the top of the world rankings. 

“I’m not a ranking person at all. The goal is No.1, and I think that’s when I would care about the ranking,” she stated in her press conference. 
“Anything in between two and 10, I mean, I’m going to be honest, it’s not that important to me.”

Gauff first broke into the world’s top 10 in September 2022 and has remained there ever since. At the time she was the youngest top 10 debutant on the WTA Tour since Nicole Vaidisova in 2006. She has been ranked as high as No.4 in the world.

“When I made the top 10, it was a cool accomplishment, but for me it was never about staying there. I only want to go upwards,” she said. “The biggest goal is to win Grand Slams, and I think the ranking will come with Grand Slams.”

It was 12 months ago at Roland Garros where Gauff achieved her best performance at a major by reaching the final before losing in straight sets to Iga Swiatek. The tournament is her best Grand Slam in terms of match wins (13) and is the only one where she has reached the quarter-finals or better on multiple occasions. Gauff also won the French Open girls’ title back in 2018 at the age of just 14. 

Five years on from the junior triumph, she has become a regular fixture on the Tour. So much so, that there is already another generation of players on the rise. One of those includes Russia’s Mirra Andreeva who says her ultimate goal in tennis is to break Novak Djokovic’s all-time Grand Slam title record which currently stands at 22. Andreeva, who is only the seventh player under the age of 17 to reach the third round of Roland Garros since 1993, will be Gauff’s next opponent. 

“I think she knows the game well, and she’s proved her position to be here and proved in her results in the past, so I don’t think the age thing matters,” Gauff commented on her next opponent. 
“I’ve never thought about my age, to be honest. This will be my third time playing someone younger than me.
“Honestly, the first two times I didn’t even think about it because when you step on the court, you just see your opponent, and you don’t really think about the personal side of things. You just see forehand, backhand, serve, and all the same.”

Gauff will play Andreeva on Saturday. 

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