United Cup: Fritz And Keys Shine For USA, Greece’s Tsitsipas Ousts Dimitrov In Epic  - UBITENNIS
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United Cup: Fritz And Keys Shine For USA, Greece’s Tsitsipas Ousts Dimitrov In Epic 

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It was the perfect start to the United Cup for team USA with both of their players winning in straight sets against the Czech Republic. 

On the first day of the new mixed event which offers ranking points and has a prize money pool of $15M, Taylor Fritz got his country off to a strong start by defeating Jiri Lehecka 6-3, 6-4. A 21-year-old Czech who was runner-up to Brandon Nakashima at the Next Gen Finals in November. Fritz remained unbroken throughout the match and won 78% of his first service points. 

“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 afterwards. “Hopefully loosen everyone else up. It is a tough position to play if behind, so it is really good for the team.”

Madison Keys continued her country’s winning momentum by defeating Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-3. Keys, who is currently ranked 11th in the world, was forced to battle back from a break down in both sets. 

“I have always typically done pretty well here,” said Keys, who has reached the Australian Open semi-final twice in her career. “I love playing here and I think I just do really well, whether it’s the people or I like playing in the heat. It’s the start of the year, it’s fast and bouncy and suits my game really well.”

During the 2022 season, Keys only reached one Tour final which was at the Adelaide International where she defeated Alison Riske to win the title. She hopes to regain that kind of form at the United Cup where she is relishing the rare opportunity of playing alongside her teammates. 

“We’ve all known each other for a really long time,” she said.
“We’ve been really close for a long time. It’s great having coaching out there, but every time you look over you have people you’ve known forever they’re supporting you. It’s a really great environment.”

Later in the tie, there is a mouthwatering clash between two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova and Jessica Pegula. Frances Tiafoe will also play the second men’s singles match on Friday. 

Tsitsipas fights back 

Stefanos Tsitsipas of Team Greece (L) shakes hands at the net with Grigor Dimitrov of Team Bulgaria – PHOTO CREDIT Tennis Australia/ TREVOR COLLENS

In Group A Greece leads Bulgaria 2-0 after two tough victories in Perth. 29-year-old Despina Papamichail, who is yet to play in the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament, battled back from a set down to defeat a weary Isabella Shinikova 3-6, 6-4, 6-1. Shinikova had treatment on her left quad during the match and was also troubled by hand cramps. 

Papamichail’s win was a big boost for team Greece ahead of one of the tournament’s most intriguing matches on Day one. Stefanos Tsitsipas took to the court to face Grigor Dimitrov in what was a marathon battle that lasted more than two hours with both players having their chance to seal the victory. 

Dimitrov, who is also the captain of his team, had a double chance to break at 4-4 in the decider but failed to convert. Overcoming the scare, Tsitsipas held his nerve to prevail 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(4), and earn his 250th ATP win. 

“It was extremely close. I think he was one point away and that made a difference,” Tsitsipas said during his on-court interview.
“I’ll take it. It was a good effort from my side.
“It was quite difficult playing with the heat in the beginning. I was happy the roof closed.
“We enjoyed some high-quality tennis, I was just trying to hang in there, fight. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy as Grigor is someone who has done exceptionally well in the past couple of years.
“He’s still got it. He can still compete against the best players in the world and I’m glad I found this little gap in between and gave myself a chance to do something in the tiebreaker.”

Elsewhere at the tournament, Italy and Brazil are currently tied at 1-1. Beatriz Haddad Maia thrashed Martina Trevisan 6-2, 6-0 before Lorenzo Musetti dismissed Felipe Meligeni Alves 6-3, 6-4. 

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Giovanni Mpetchi Perricard claims his first ATP title in Lyon

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Giovanni Mpetchi Perricard battled past sixth seed Tomas Martin Etcheverry 6-4 1-6 7-6 (9-7) in a thrilling final at the Open Parc tournament in Lyon. 

Mpetchi Perricard saved four break points in the first game of the opening set to hold serve at deuce. Etcheverry converted his third break point in the fifth game and held serve at love to take a 4-2 lead. Mpetchi Perricard won four consecutive games to clinch the first set 6-4. 

Etcheverry broke three times to win the second set 6-1. 

The third set went on serve until the 11th game when Mpetchi Perricard converted his third break point to take a 6-5 lead. Etcheverry broke straight back to draw level to 6-6. Mpetchi Perricard was a point away from defeat at 6-7 in the tie-break of the third set, but he reeled off the final three points to win the tie-break 9-7 on his second championship point. 

Mpetchi Perricard won three Challenger Tour titles this year in Nottingham, Cuernavaca and Acapulco. He beat Lorenzo Sonego, Yoshihito Nishioka, Hugo Gaston and Alexander Bublik en route to his first ATP Tour title in Lyon.

Mpetchi Perricard is the son of footballer player Ghislain Mpetchi, who is of Congolese origin. He sister Daphnée Perricard is also a tennis player. 

“It was crazy. It was a very good final. I was down in the second set, but I managed to do better. I am very happy to win this tournament and now I have a lot of confidence for Roland Garros”, said Mpetchi Perricard.

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Casper Ruud claims the third title of his career in Geneva

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Casper Ruud claimed the third title of his career at the Gonet Geneva Open after his previous triumphs at this tournament in 2021 and 2022. 

Ruud did double duty after rain postponed his semifinal match to Saturday. Ruud saved a match point to beat Flavio Cobolli 1-6 6-1 7-6 (7-4) in the semifinal. He returned less than three hours to defeat Tomas Machac 7-5 6-3 in the final. Ruud clinched the ATP Tour title of his career. 

Machac went up a break in the third game of the first set to take a 3-1 lead. Ruud won three consecutive games from 4-5 down with two breaks in the first set after Machac committed a double fault while he was holding a set point on serve at 5-4. 

Ruud broke serve in the second game of the second set. The Norwegian player held on his next service games and served out the win on his first match point in 1 hour and 47 minutes. 

Ruud improved to 2-0 in his two head-to-head matches against Machac. “It was a challenging week. All the matches are tough, no matter who will play. It was tough to find a groove. The weather has been a bit challenging all week, but today was fantastic. I feel very happy to win again to win again here in Geneva. It’s been a very good season so far”, said Ruud. 

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Casper Ruud saves a match point to beat Flavio Cobolli in the semifinal in Geneva

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Second seed Casper Ruud came back from one set down to beat Flavio Cobolli 1-6 6-1 7-6 (7-4) in 1 hour and 51 minutes in the semifinal of the Gonet Geneva Open. Ruud set up a final against Tomas Machac, who upset Novak Djokovic 6-4 0-6 6-1 in yesterday’s semifinal.

Cobolli earned his first break in the second game with a forehand winner. The world number 56 broke for the second time to love in the sixth game to close out the first set 6-1. 

Ruud earned two breaks in the fourth and sixth games to win the second set 6-1. 

Cobolli saved two break points in the first game of the third set before converting his third break point to open up a 3-0 lead. Ruud broke back in the seventh game and held serve to 30 to draw level to 4-4. 

Ruud, who won two titles in Geneva in 2021 and 2022, saved a match point on serve at 4-5 30-40 in the third set. The Norwegian player went up a 4-0 lead with three mini-breaks in the tie-break before going on to seal the win. 

Cobolli hit eight aces and won 67% of his first serve points. The Italian player hit 38 winners to 21 unforced errors. Ruud hit 12 winners to 6 unforced errors. 

“It was very difficult. I was one point away from losing. I was able to hang in there and it was a very tough match. I am happy to have been able to come back in the third set and pull through. It was a good confidence win for me and I am looking forward to the final”, said Ruud. 

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