On Saturday, December 31, there was no shortage of surprises in the program of matches played in the United Cup in Australia. Several luxury defeats complicated the plans of some powerful countries, mainly Germany and Spain, who are in real danger of dropping out of the competition and will not be able to continue the fight to enter the next phase.
In their first defeat of the season, Rafael Nadal and Alexander Zverev lost 2-0 against Great Britain and the Czech Republic respectively. With a win, the British can wrap up the competition and secure first place in Group D.
In Perth, Belgium and Bulgaria were evenly matched after the first two individual games (the next three will of course be decisive), while Croatia dominated Argentina 2-0. Thanks to the contribution of Iga Svyatek, Poland equalized in the match against Kazakhstan.
Also in trouble is Kasper Ruud’s Norway, who will only make his debut against Thiago Monteiro on Sunday to give his nation hope of a comeback. Italy will rest for the second day in a row before taking on Norway again to claim top spot in Group E mathematically.
In Sydney, Spain will have Paula Bados and Pablo Carreño Busta looking to bounce back against Great Britain: Dart and Evans will have the match ball for them given their 2-0 lead after the first two games. In the mixed doubles, the Iberian national team should use Badosa herself and Rafael Nadal.
Poland and Kazakhstan will see off Hubert Hurkacz and Aleksandr Bublik in Brisbane: surely one of the most interesting challenges on the programme. Germany will rely on Siegemund and Oskar Ott to try and overcome the Czech signing 2-0.
The German will face the tenacious Petra Kvitova, who can use the opportunity to give her nation the decisive point.
Mark Petchy defends Rafa Nadal
Mark Petchy has expressed his frustration that Rafael Nadal is constantly fielding retirement-related questions from the media during his press conferences.
“Why would anyone ask him that question? I don’t get it. He’s one of the few players who sells massive amounts of tickets, puts column inches in the papers and eyes on the game. You’d have to ask the guy to play another game in a decade,” Mark Petchey said.
“It’s like people want a nice runway to prepare their final words about the career of this legend. Just appreciate that he still wants to thrill us and everything that comes with trying to stay one of the best,” Petchy added.