United Cup Daily Preview: Nadal, Swiatek, Tsitsipas, Zverev All Play on Monday - UBITENNIS
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United Cup Daily Preview: Nadal, Swiatek, Tsitsipas, Zverev All Play on Monday

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Rafael Nadal on Saturday in Sydney (unitedcup.com)

On Monday in Australia, the third of three ties in each of the six round-robin groups of the inaugural United Cup will begin.  The current group standings can be found here.

Day 5 provides the tournament’s most compelling Order of Play yet, headlined by Rafael Nadal taking on Australia’s Alex de Minaur, and World No.1 Iga Swiatek facing Olympic Gold Medalist Belinda Bencic.

Each day, this preview will analyze the two most prominent matches on the schedule.  Monday’s play gets underway at 12:00pm local time in Sydney and Perth, and 1:00pm in Brisbane.


Rafael Nadal [ESP] vs. Alex de Minaur [AUS] – Not Before 7:00pm in Sydney

Great Britain is 2-0 in this group and has already secured advancement to the knockout stage, so Spain and Australia have been eliminated.  While this is a dead rubber, it’s a highly-anticipated match, especially in Australia.

Nadal lost his opening match to Cam Norrie in a nearly three-hour, high-quality affair.  He’s now lost five of his last six matches, dating back to his fourth round defeat to Frances Tiafoe at the US Open. 

De Minaur also lost to Norrie, in straight sets.  Alex went 47-25 last season, winning a hard court title in Atlanta.

Rafa leads their head-to-head 3-0, which includes two previous matches in Australia.  Nadal prevailed in straight sets four years ago at the Australian Open, and overcame Alex 6-1 in the third three years ago in the semifinals of the ATP Cup.  While Nadal’s current form does not bode well for his Australian Open title defense, and de Minaur will have a big home court advantage, Rafa remains a slight favorite to earn his first victory of the 2023 season.


Iga Swiatek [POL] vs. Belinda Bencic [SUI] – Not Before 7:00pm in Brisbane

Poland and Switzerland are both 1-0 in this group, so the country that wins this tie will advance. 

Swiatek won her opening singles match over Yulia Putintseva, dropping just four games, and also prevailed in mixed doubles on Sunday alongside Hubert Hurkacz.  Bencic also defeated Putintseva in straight sets.

These players have surprisingly only met twice, and they’ve split those encounters.  Two years ago in the final of Adelaide, Swiatek was victorious 6-2, 6-2.  Later that year in the fourth round of the US Open, Bencic won 7-6(12), 6-3.  But while Belinda was a solid 42-18 in 2022, Iga’s record of 67-9 was reflective of how she took her game to a level above all her competition .  And thus, Swiatek should be slightly favored in this important matchup with advancement implications.


Other Notable Matches on Monday:

Taylor Fritz [USA] vs. Sascha Zverev [GER] – This is only Zverev’s second match since his gruesome Roland Garros injury.  The German lost his first match to Jiri Lehecka in straights.  Fritz defeated Lehecka in straights, but is 2-4 lifetime against Zverev.  The United States is 1-0, while Germany is 0-1, with both teams still having a chance to advance.

Stefanos Tsitsipas [GRE] vs. David Goffin [BEL] – Tsitsipas overcame Grigor Dimitrov in a third-set tiebreak.  Goffin lost to Dimitrov in straights.  Stefanos is 4-2 against David, though they haven’t played since 2019.  Greece is 1-0, while Belgium is 0-1, so this is another case where both teams still have a chance to advance.


The United Cup daily schedule is here.

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Olympic Qualification Is Not the Only Goal For French Veteran Gael Monfils

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Gael Monfils (image via https://twitter.com/atptour)

Gael Monfils admits he doesn’t have too many years left on the Tour but this doesn’t mean his targets are any less ambitious. 

The 37-year-old has enjoyed a rapid rise up the rankings over the past 12 months following battles with injury. At his lowest, he was ranked 394th last May but is now in 40th position. As a result, he is closing on securing a place in the Olympic Games which is being held in his home country of France for the first time since 1924. The tennis event will be staged at Roland Garros. 

“When I was 400, I was thinking the Olympics would be great, but it’s going to be tough,” Monfils told reporters on Tuesday. 
“There are younger players playing well. If I don’t qualify, I don’t mind. It will just mean I’m very close to the ranking I want to be. That ranking will allow me to find another goal.”

Monfils is already a three-time Olympian but has never won a medal at the event. He reached the quarter-finals of the singles tournament twice in 2008 and 2016. 

Another goal of Frenchmen is the Wimbledon championships which concludes just three weeks before the Olympics begin. The proximity of these tournaments will be a challenge to all players who will be going from playing on clay to grass and then back to clay again. 

“I really want to go and play Wimbledon. I don’t have so many Wimbledons to play in the future. The Olympics is one goal, not the only goal.” Monfils states.
“My dream is of course to be part of the Olympics. I played three times at the Olympics. I’d like to be there again. But I also really want to do well in Wimbledon this year. To reach my goal, it has to be including Wimbledon.” He added. 

Monfils is currently playing at the Monte Carlo Masters where he beat Aleksandar Vukic in his opening match. In the next round, he will take on Daniil Medvedev in what will be their first meeting since 2022. He leads their head-to-head 2-1. 

Medvedev has openly spoken about his roller-coaster relationship with playing on the clay. He admits it is not his favourite surface but how much of a factor could this be in his upcoming clash with Monfils?

“Of course, it’s not his favourite one, but he’s still Daniil Medvedev, and whatever the surface, it’s always very complicated to play him,” Monfils concludes. 

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Matteo Berrettini wins in Marrakech displaying quality tennis

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Matteo Berrettini - Marrakech 2024 (photo X @ATPTour_ES)

Matteo Berrettini defeats Roberto Carballes Baena in straight sets, 75 62, and proves that his comeback is well grounded  

If life is often considered a continuous narrative, it may be no coincidence that today Matteo Berrettini’s comeback journey intersescted Carballes Baena, a player he had faced twice in straight tournaments, Florence and Naples in October 2022, shortly before plunging into his annus horribilis, an injury-plagued 2023.

Just like resuming the story from where it was left.

Carballes Baena, the defending champion, got off to a sharper start, holding serve with ease and earning a first break point in the second game. Berrettini averted the threat by hammering down three serves but lost his service two games later.

Doubts on the Italian’s recovery from his energy-draining semifinal may have been starting to come afloat. However Berrettini broke back immediately, unsettling the Spaniard’s consistency with changes of pace and alternating lifted and sliced backhands.

The next six games neatly followed serve. Figures witness how close the match was. After 45 minutes the scoreboard read 5 games all, and stats reported 27 points apiece.

The eleventh game was to be crucial. Carballes Baena netted two forehands, while trying to hit through the Italian’s skidding spins and conceded a break point. Berrettini followed up two massive forehands with a delicate, unreachable drop shot and secured the break.

Carballes Baena was far from discouraged, and fired two forehand winners dashing to 0 40  with the Italian serving for the set.

Berrettini was lucky to save the first break point with a forehand that pinched the top of the net, and trickled over. Then he hit two winning first serves to draw even. Then again two first serves paired with their loyal forehand winner: Berrettini’s copyright gamepattern sealed a 59 minute first set.

The match seemed about to swing round at the very start of the second set when Carballes Baena had three break points and was winning all the longer rallies. Once more Berrettini got out of trouble thanks to his serve. Carballes Baena’s disappointment turned into frustration after he failed to put away two quite comfortable smashes and lost his service immediately after.  

Unforced errors were seeping into the Spaniard’s game and when Berrettini won a 16-shot rally with a stunning crosscourt forehand on the stretch and went on to grab a two-break lead, the match appeared to have taken its final twist.

Berrettini did not falter when serving for the match at 5 2, despite an unforced error on the first point. Three first serves chauffeured him to two match points.

Carballes Baena only succeeded in bravely saving the first, well steering the rally. But the 2021 Wimbledon finalist produced a massive serve out wide and joyfully lifted his arms to the sky, for a most emotional victory. It means so much to a player whose talent and career have been incessantly diminished by injuries.

It’s been a tough last couple of years” Matteo Berrettini said, holding the trophy. “Thanks to my team I was able to overcome all the tough moments my body didn’t allow me to play. I thank you and all the people that made my comeback possible: all my friends and my family, the people that were with me all the time when I was sad, injured and I didn’t think I could make it.”

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Andrey Rublev Reflects On Recent Struggles Ahead Of Monte Carlo Title Defence

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Andrey Rublev admits he continues to struggle to maintain his emotions on the court after his disqualification from a tournament earlier this year.

The Russian world No.6 hopes to get back on track after a disappointing American swing where he won just one out of three matches played. In Indian Wells, Rublev beat ex-No.1 Andy Murray before falling in straight sets to Jiri Lehecka. Then in Miami, he lost his opening match against Tomas Machac. 

“At Indian Wells, I was so focused on trying to control my movements that I was completely stuck,” the 26-year-old recently commented
“I had no energy left, I had no strength. And in Miami, I exploded. I could no longer control myself, my actions, my nerves. I felt paralyzed, I couldn’t move.”

As to why Rublev felt so paralyzed, he acknowledges it could be linked to an incident that happened earlier in the season. At the Dubai Tennis Championships he was defaulted from his semi-final clash against Alexander Bublik for unsportsmanlike conduct after he was accused of saying an obscenity in his native language at an official. He then successfully appealed against the penalty and retained the ranking points and prize money he earned, barring a fine of $36,400 for a code violation.

“Maybe what happened in Dubai remains in my mind,” said Rublev. 

Rublev’s focus now switches to his title defence at the Monte Carlo Masters. It is the only Masters 1000 event he has won so far in his career. 

“I feel better. These last two weeks I have been training a lot. But it’s one thing to train well, it’s another to play well in a match.” He evaluated of his current form. 

Rublev has yet to defend a Tour-level title so far in his career. Should he do so, he will become only the fifth player in the Open Era to win multiple Monte Carlo trophies. 

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