Fritz and Keys give USA 2-0 lead in mixed team United Cup

SYDNEY (AP) — Taylor Fritz and Madison Keys gave the United States a 2-0 lead over the Czech Republic in the new United Cup mixed team tournament on Thursday.

SYDNEY (AP) — Taylor Fritz and Madison Keys gave the United States a 2-0 lead over the Czech Republic in the new United Cup mixed team tournament on Thursday.

Fritz broke Jiri Lehecka’s serve in the ninth game of the second set and then beat the Czech player 6-3, 6-4. Keys followed that up with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Marie Bouzkova in the next Group C match at Sydney’s Ken Rosewall Arena.

Two singles matches – one men’s and one women’s – will be played on each of the two days, with a mixed doubles to conclude the five-match encounter on day two.

« In a team event, the first game of the year, there are always nerves coming out, so it’s great to come out and push the team forward, » Fritz said. “I hope everyone relaxes. It’s a difficult position to play if you’re behind, so it’s really good for the team.

Fritz saved both break points he faced in his first face-to-face encounter with 21-year-old Lehecka.

“When I was down I felt like I was doing big serves when I needed free points,” Fritz said. « I don’t think from the floor, maybe I played my best, but when I had a break point or 0-30, I was coming in with big serves. »

The United States is the third seed in the tournament and also includes world No. 3 Jessica Pegula and men’s No. 19 Frances Tiafoe.

In Friday’s singles action against the Czechs, Pegula will face two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova and Tiafor will play Tomas Machac. Pegula and Fritz set to play mixed doubles for USA

The inaugural United Cup has teams from 18 countries competing in Brisbane, Perth and Sydney until January 4. The three city champions and the next highest performing country in the group stage will meet at Ken Rosewall Arena from January 6-8 to determine the overall winner.

First-seeded Greece are captained by world No. 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas and Maria Sakkari, who is ranked No. 6 in the women’s competition. World No. 1 Iga Swiatek and men’s No. 11 Hubert Hurkacz will lead second-seeded Poland.

Greece lived up to their record by taking a 2-0 lead over Bulgaria in Perth, Western Australia. Tsitsipas beat Grigor Dimitrov 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (4). Earlier, Despina Papamichail came from a set and a breakdown to defeat Isabella Shinikova 3-6, 6-4, 6-1.

Rafael Nadal will team up with world No. 13 Paula Badosa for Spain.

Each host city will feature two groups of three countries competing in a round robin format.

In other results, the Italy-Brazil game at Brisbane’s Pat Rafter Arena was tied at 1-1 after matchday one. Beatriz Haddad Maia gave Brazil a 1-0 lead with a 6-2, 6-0 victory over Martina Trevisan before Italy’s Lorenzo Musetti beat Felipe Meligeni Alves 6-3, 6-4.

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


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