Taylor Fritz clinches finals spot for U.S. at mixed teams United Cup – NBC Sports – Misc.

Taylor Fritz produced a composed performance against Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz to clinch a spot for the United States in the final of the United Cup mixed teams tournament.
Fritz stepped onto Ken Rosewall Arena in Sydney with the U.S. holding a 2-0 lead after strong efforts from Jessica Pegula and Frances Tiafoe in the opening singles matches.
Pitted against fellow top 10-ranked rival Hurkacz, the 25-year-old Fritz prevailed 7-6 (5), 7-6 (5) to give the Americans an unassailable 3-0 lead in the semifinal.
The reigning Indian Wells Masters champion has represented America in the Davis Cup but said combining with the country’s best women players enhanced the experience in the new competition.
“I have played with Team USA a lot and I think it is a huge advantage this time having the girls in our team because it just makes the whole team so much stronger,” he said. “I am super excited going into the finals and I think we have been the favorites all week.”
The U.S. awaits the winner of the other semifinal between Italy and Greece in the inaugural 18-nation competition carrying $15 million in prize money.
The Italians lead 2-0 and Greece needs Stefanos Tsitsipas to defeat Matteo Berrettini in their singles matches in Sydney to keep alive its United Cup finals hopes.
In the match between the world’s ninth- and 10th-ranked men, Fritz and Hurkacz initially dictated proceedings on serve. But as the opening set progressed, the games became tighter.
Fritz pushed his Polish rival to deuce on his service game at 4-all but was then forced to save two set points on his own delivery in the following game.
The tiebreaker to decide the set was similarly tight, but a superb backhand from Fritz after a lengthy rally enabled the American to clinch it.
Little separated the two players in the second set either, with neither able to break their rivals serve once again. But once in the tiebreaker, the American again proved more reliable at critical moments.
Fritz had success during rallies targeting the forehand wing of the world No. 10, drawing errors on crucial points. This proved the downfall of Hurkacz, who was clearly angered after making three forehand mistakes in succession to drop a tiebreaker he had led 5-4.
The pair had not played against each other since 2019, when they split matches on grass in England and hard court in Canada, and both men have matured as players since then.
“From four years ago, I am moving so much better, I am returning serve so much better and being aggressive with the forehand . . . and going after shots when it matters,” Fritz said.
“No one could really get through for a (service break) but I think the difference in the tiebreakers is that I served well and put some returns in the court, played some really solid points and didn’t give him anything.”
MELBOURNE, Australia — The Brazilian pair of Luisa Stefani and Rafael Matos beat India’s Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna 7-6 (2), 6-2 on Friday to win the Australian Open mixed doubles title in Mirza’s last match at a Grand Slam tournament before she retires.
Mirza, who has won six Grand Slam doubles championships – three in mixed, including the 2009 Australian Open – will retire next month after a tournament in Dubai.
Mirza was emotional at the trophy presentation.
“Disclaimer, if I cry it is happy tears,” Mirza said. “I don’t want to take away the moment from Matos-Stefani who have deserved this.”
The 36-year-old Mirza first appeared at a Grand Slam tournament 18 years ago in Melbourne, when she was beaten by eventual 2005 champion Serena Williams in a third-round match.
“I’ve had the privilege to come back here again and again, and win some tournaments and play some great finals,” Mirza said. “Rod Laver Arena has really been special in my life and I couldn’t think of a better arena to finish my career at a Grand Slam.”
Mirza was 14 years old when she first partnered Bopanna on court.
“It’s truly special for me to play along with Sania,” the 42-year-old Bopanna said. “Unfortunately we couldn’t get the title, but thank you so much for what you have done for Indian tennis.”
The Brazilian pair took a 3-0 lead in the tiebreaker and Mirza and Bopanna fought back to 3-2, but that was to be the last points the Indian duo took. They missed two overheads in a row, including Mirza’s shot into the net on set point.
Stefani and Matos broke Mirza’s serve in the fourth game of the second set to go up 3-1, with the break point coming after a lengthy exchange between the teams.
Stefani and Matos are undefeated as a team, having won all seven matches together at the United Cup and at Melbourne Park.
Stefani said an invitation from Matos to play together on her return from a serious knee injury provided inspiration as she completed her rehabilitation last year.
“It was about Wimbledon-time last year and he asked me how I was doing,” she said. “I was doing rehab . . . that was a big motivation for me to keep working hard and keep getting closer to coming back.
“Now here we are, winning our first Grand Slam together in Australia in this beautiful court . . . it’s a dream come true.”
MELBOURNE, Australia — Two days after advancing to her first Grand Slam tournament quarterfinal, unseeded Magda Linette went one better and is into the Australian Open semifinals.
The 30-year-old Linette beat Karolina Pliskova 6-3, 7-5, adding the former No. 1 to the list of top players she has beaten at Melbourne Park during this tournament.
Linette, who had lost seven of nine previous matches against Pliskova, had defeated Anett Kontaveit, Ekaterina Alexandrova and WTA Finals champion Caroline Garcia in successive rounds.
A player from Poland was favored to reach the latter stages of the tournament, but it was top-seeded Iga Swiatek that everyone would have expected – and not Linette.
“It’s so emotional I can’t really believe it,” Linette said. “I tried to stay composed and took my chances when I could.”
Linette will play No. 5 Aryna Sabalenka, who beat unseeded Donna Vekic 6-3, 6-2 in a later quarterfinal. The women’s semifinals are scheduled for Thursday night.
Vekic, who had 13 double faults against Sabalenka, had a succinct appraisal of her serve: “I mean, it was all over the place. But I think mostly in the net.”
The other women’s semifinalists were determined on Tuesday. Two-time former Australian champion Victoria Azarenka will play Wimbledon titleholder Elena Rybakina for a chance to play in Saturday night’s final. Rybakina beat Swiatek in the fourth round.
Later Wednesday, the remaining men’s semifinalists will be determined. Unseeded Americans Ben Shelton and Tommy Paul play before nine-time champion Novak Djokovic takes on Andrey Rublev.
Djokovic will be looking to qualify for his 44th Grand Slam semifinal and a win in that match on Friday would advance him on Sunday night to his 33rd major singles final.
The other men’s semifinal on Friday will see third-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas play Karen Khachanov.


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