Great Britain secured a 3-2 win over Australia thanks to Harriet Dart securing the third point which gave Team GB an unassailable 3-0 lead having taken the first two points in yesterday’s singles. They were able to relax as Australia made one of their typically strong comebacks to ease their defeat at the hands of their traditional arch enemies!
Maddy played really great tennis today and I had to work for it, First match of the year, I was really nervous, but the crowd were great. Harriet Dart
On day two of the United Cup Group D tie played at the Ken Rosewall Arena, Sydney, Dart opened play with a 6-4 6-4 win over Maddison Inglis, a late replacement for Australian No.1 Ajla Tomljanovic who withdrew before the rubber citing a left knee injury. That win was all Britain needed to ensure an overall win despite there being two more matches to play.
Dart took one hour and 32-minutes to see off Inglis, the world No. 180, in straight sets, breaking her in the fifth game of the first and then posting three successive love holds for an early advantage.
Inglis came out all guns blazing in the second set, bringing up two break points in Dart’s opening service game but failed to convert either of them before the world number 98 struck back to break her in third game.
The Aussie would finally earn her first break of the match in game six to level the second set at 3-3, but Dart broke once more to pull ahead for a 5-4 lead and then held, converting on her first match point with her fifth ace of the match.
“Maddy played really great tennis today and I had to work for it,” Dart said. “First match of the year, I was really nervous, but the crowd were great.”
In the next match, in front of a raucous crowd, Jason Kubler restored some Aussie pride when he battled over one hour and 51-minutes to defeat Britain’s No.2 Dan Evans, 6-3 7-6(3) with a gritty performance to secure the first point for the hosts.
The world No. 107 delivered 11 aces and rallied from 0-5 in the second set, saving one set point at 4-5, before eventually sealing his victory in the tie-break.
“It was crazy,” Kubler said when asked about the atmosphere. “The first set I was trying to get the [fans] involved because I thought it would definitely help me. Just with the way the second set started I couldn’t really find too many opportunities for them to get involved.
“On the comeback, they really helped me. It was a big reason I was able to come back. When you’re playing tournaments by yourself and you don’t have the crowd, it’s very tough in those moments to come back. Then tonight all credit to them. They really helped me get over the line.”
After Kubler’s heroics, Australia’s vice-captain Sam Stosur reunited with her Olympic mixed doubles partner John Peers to finish on a winning note, defeating Harriet Dart and Jonny O’Mara, 7-6(4) 6-4 to give the home nation its second point in the tie.
GB return to action on Saturday in their first two matches with Spain, where Norrie will take on 22-time Grand Slam winner Rafael Nadal before Swan meets Nuria Parrizas-Diaz.
Earlier in the day the USA already 2-0 ahead in their tie against the Cech Republic, Frances Tiafoe secured victory for Team USA in Group C when Tomas Machac was forced to retire with an ankle injury.
The American led 6-3 2-4 when, after 89-minutes, Machac turned his ankle while attempting to reach a shot and after consultation with the medical staff and his team, decided to withdraw and hand the point to his opponent.
And that point was all the US needed to clinch overall victory although two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova did gain a consolation point for her team when she defeated the world No.3 Jessica Pegula 7-6(6) 6-4 to prevent the Czechs from suffering a whitewash. As the score line suggests, it wasn’t a walkover for Kvitova had to save seven set points in the opening set!
“We keep fighting,” Kvitova said. “I think USA is such a great team with great players in the team. We are not really favourites here, but we are fighting every match, every point. That’s our team spirit.”
With the score at 3-1, Pegula made up for her singles disappointment by teaming up with Taylor Fritz to close the tie out with a win in the Mixed Doubles but only just as they were forced into the third set Super Tiebreak before completing their 2-6 6-3 10-7 victory to win the tie 4-1.
“I feel like on our team there’s a lot of different options and different pairings and the mixed could be important down the line,” Fritz said. “We want to figure out what will be our best team or at least get the rust off. The whole thing can be decided by the mixed doubles so we want to know who we want to go with in a big match.”
Team United States plays Team Germany in its final Group C tie starting on Monday. Team Czech Republic will look to make up for their disappointment when it takes on the German lead by Alexander Zverev on Saturday.