Team USA beats Italy to win inaugural United Cup on Sunday

SYDNEY – The United States won its first United Cup with a stunning performance against Italy in the mixed team final on Sunday.

No. 9 Taylor Fritz defeated former Wimbledon finalist Matteo Berrettini 7-6 (4), 7-6 (7) to give the USA a 3-0 lead in the best-of-five match.

The Indian Wells Masters champion failed to convert nine break points but didn’t concede a single point of his own and showed himself to be the more consistent player in the two tiebreaks.

He was mobbed by his teammates after he won the American Championship at Ken Rosewall Arena.

“We came in with really high hopes before the tournament, and when you win and everyone runs up to you, just the emotion and just being in a position to host the game, it’s amazing,” Fritz said.

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“We had a great team this week and it was a lot of fun.”

Jessica Pegula put the United States on the road to victory Friday with a 6-4, 6-2 victory over top-ranked Iga Sviacek over Martina Trevisan.

2022 US Open semi-finalist Frances Tiafoe extended her lead after Lorenzo Musetti suffered a shoulder injury after going down 6-2 in the first set.

Madison Keys continued her US dominance in the final, defeating Lucia Bronzetti 6-3, 7-2 in a dead rubber for the title.

The U.S. was seen as the favorite in the 18-nation event, based on the strength of the team, with all four singles players ranked in the top 20 in the world.

In the finals, the USA lost just two of 20 rubbers against the Czech Republic, Germany, Great Britain and Poland.

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Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova beat Pegula in her tournament opener, while 2022 Wimbledon semi-finalist Cameron Norrie defeated Fritz in three sets on January 4.

The battle between Fritz and Berrettini was as dominant as Fritz’s 7-6, 7-6 win over Poland’s Hubert Hurkach on Saturday.

But Berrettini, who lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas in three sets in Saturday’s semi-final against Greece, lost early in the first tiebreak and in the second in relief, Fritz won.

“I had a lot of opportunities there, and he played really well on those opportunities, so he made it really difficult for me,” Fritz said.

Pegula held off Trevisan in the first three games, then overcame the 27th seed’s challenge late in the first set to en route to an emphatic win.

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Pegula, ranked No. 3, said she wants to set an example for the team’s top player of either gender.

“I wanted to win because I’m the No. 1 American on the team. I wanted to hug it. I didn’t want to run away from it,” he said.

The Italian was in a dominant position against 19th-ranked Tiafoe Musetti when the match ended on the first point of the second set.

The 20-year-old had earlier received medical attention after a fall and was 2-5 in the opening set.

USA coach David Witt is Pegula’s individual coach and praised his players’ teamwork.

“It was an honor to be their coach and enjoy the time they spent together. It was great,” he said.

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