In recent years in the tennis world, there have been a couple of new tournaments and others that have taken the tennis world by storm. Two such events include the Laver Cup and the ATP Cup, both of which comprise teams that belong to certain countries or areas of the globe. However, in most serious high-level team tennis events, either only men or female tennis players play against each other. In fact, outside of mixed doubles, it is very rare that we see men and women compete at the elite level in the first place. However, the United Cup, a new tournament introduced by the ATP and WTA, has broken this trend by introducing a tournament where men and women are able to compete together within a team environment. And, in just its inaugural edition, it has proven to be a major hit amongst all tennis fans.
This tournament is important not just because of the way it unites tennis players who are trying to represent their country but also brings to the forefront of attention rising stars who may have been lesser-known in previous times. Players like Timofey Skatov (Kazakhstan), Borna Gojo (Croatia), and Dimitar Kuzmanov (Bulgaria) have all produced high-quality tennis to help their respective countries advance within the tournament. Not only this, but there have already been many memorable matches. Stefanos Tsitsipas and Grigor Dimitrov displayed some of the best shotmaking in their grueling encounter within this tournament, which ended in the Greek pulling through and winning the match 4-6; 6-2; 7-6(4). Both players have proven what they are capable of, and Stefanos remains a favorite to win the Australian Open. Alex de Minaur upset Rafael Nadal, winning the third set 7-5. This was a sweet victory for the Australian, who had suffered particularly against the Spanish great, losing their first three encounters. Borna Gojo also pulled through for Croatia against Adrian Mannarino. What seemed like a relatively low-caliber match turned into a grinding contest, in which both players were playing gutsy shots. In the end, Gojo proved that he belonged on the biggest stages, holding his nerve to win 7-6(5) in the third set. One final example of an epic encounter was between two in-form players – Taylor Fritz and Cameron Norrie. During this roller-coaster ride of a match, the third set, as with many of his other matches, proved why Norie has experienced so much success in recent times. After going down a break and suffering from a 1-4 deficit, the Brit figured out a way to turn the match on its heels and eventually take the set 6-4. His combination of consistent hitting whilst utilizing a newly-added element of aggression has propelled him to such big results.
It is not just the men’s side that has experienced these kinds of matches. On the women’s side, there have been some surprising wins and losses and epics as well. In their semi-final encounter, Iga Swiatek and Jessica Pegula, both high-level players ranked in the top 3 in the world, faced off. What would ensue, however, was not expected in the slightest. Pegula found her A-game and ran through a stunned Swiatek 6-2, 6-2. Firing winners off of both her forehand and backhand wing, it simply seemed that the American was unstoppable. Martina Trevisan also came up with a huge win during the semi-final clash between Italy and Greece. She took down Maria Sakkari, another in-form player, in a thrilling match, 6-3, 6-7(4), 7-5. After winning the match, the Italian seemed both delighted and surprised about her performance on that fateful day.
Outside of individual match results, the overall tie results have gone a bit more as expected. Both the Poland and the U.S. have healthy and high-level players on both the men’s and women’s side in both the first and second spots. The same goes for Greece and Italy.
The U.S. has progressed to the finals after beating Poland 4-0. It will be interesting to see how Italy and Greece eventually shape up, with Italy currently up 2-0 in the tie.
No matter the outcome of this year’s United Cup, this tournament is a great addition to both the ATP and WTA tours and will help bring about a new adaptation to team tennis tournaments as they are today.