Sydney | Germany upset Poland to lift United Cup trophy

Underdogs Germany upset top seeded Poland, 2-1, to win the United Cup after edging past the favourites in the deciding mixed doubles match tiebreak.

Congrats to Team Poland, amazing run. It was a matter of millimetres today for you guys to be the champions. I know it is upsetting, but you guys all have, I think, an amazing season ahead. Hubi and Iga, especially I think. Iga, congratulations on the MVP. I said it before in an interview, I think having you on a team is like having a cheat code on a video game, so it’s amazing what you’ve been doing for the past few years and, I think, you have a big season ahead. Alexander Zverev

“It’s been absolutely amazing!” Alexander Zverev told his teammates during the trophy ceremony. “It’s been a pleasure and it’s been absolutely so much fun for everybody to be part of this team, especially for me.

“I really thank you guys for being part of this. I really couldn’t be happier to be sharing this trophy with anybody than you guys.”

Opening proceedings, World No 1 Iga Swiatek dealt with Angelique Huber’s challenge with her customary authority, 6-3 6-0, and it looked as if Poland would lift the trophy when Hubert Hurkacz held 2 match points against a weary Zverev, but the German saved them both and went on to win 6-7(3) 7-6(6) 6-4 and force the tie into the mixed doubles.

Zverev returned to the Ken Rosewall Arena alongside Laura Siegemund to defeat Swiatek & Hurkacz, 6-4 5-7 [10-4] in a match that ended at 12.45 am local time.

Germany had battled from behind throughout the competition, finishing second in Group D and scraping into the quarter-finals based on percentage of games won.

Siegemund & Zverev won deciding mixed doubles matches on Friday, Saturday and Sunday to lift Germany to the title.

Iga Swiatek got Poland off to a flying start against Angelique Kerber at the United Cup finals

© David Gray/AFP via Getty Images

Sunday began with Swiatek’s win after the rubber remained in the balance until the Pole engineered the only break of the opening set.

Swiatek and Kerber had not played since their first meeting, which came amid Swiatek’s 37-match win streak in 2022.

Then, in the Round of 16 at Indian Wells, the soon-to-be World No 1 came from a set down to win 4-6 6-2 6-3.

Swiatek came into this match boasting a 17-2 record against left-handed players over the last 3 seasons, including a perfect 7-0 last year.

As the match began, Kerber showed no signs of any physical hangover from her late-night finish.

The former World No 1 earned a physical win over Ajla Tomljanovic to help Germany defeat Australia in the semi-finals late on Saturday night, and she slung her forehand with depth and precision to put early pressure on Swiatek, who gamely saved 2 break points to hold for 3-2.

After saving 3 more break points on her own serve, Swiatek broke free and overpowered Kerber to move 5-3 up before serving out the set.

“I felt like she was really picking the right spots to play and she surprised me sometimes with her decision-making and choices,” Swiatek said. “I knew she could play like that but I didn’t have much time to get into the rhythm because she was really aiming sometimes these balls inside out.

“With the ball change, I felt like my game could be more dynamic and I could push Angelique more after 4-3.”

Swiatek finished the opener with 21 groundstroke winners to 13 unforced errors, while Kerber struck 11 winners to her 6 miscues.

Ever the front-runner, Swiatek ran off a streak of 9 consecutive games to bagel the German in the second set and complete the 70-minute win.

“I feel like I really improved during the preseason, and I’m happy that I played such solid matches here,” Swiatek said. “It’s really fun and it’s really exciting to play with my teammates and for Poland. I’m really excited to win all my matches for Poland.”

Alexander Zverev saved 2 match points against Hubert Hurkacz (R) to level the Germany v Poland tie

© Brett Hemmings/Getty Images

In Saturday’s semi-finals, Kerber had saved 2 match points against Tomljanovic, while Siegemund & Zverev saved 2 more against Storm Hunter & Matthew Ebden in a tie that ended past 2.15 am.

Germany was on the verge of elimination again in the championship match when Poland’s Hurkacz had the title on his racket at 6-4 in the second set tiebreak.

Hurkacz had held the advantage when he walked onto Ken Rosewall Arena, despite trailing Zverev 0-2 in their Head to Head series.

Zverev had played a gruelling 3-set singles match on Saturday evening against Alex de Minaur, and then 3 sets in doubles.

“I was exhausted. In the middle of the second set I was already exhausted and in the third set I was hanging on a lot of the time and somehow got the break,” Zverev said. “Obviously mentally and physically [it was] extremely difficult because playing three days in a row singles and mixed is tough.

“I’m happy that we’re in this position now. We have one more match to play to decide it all.”

Despite showing signs of fatigue at the end of the second set, and suffering from the onset of cramps early in the third, Zverev found a way to win against the big-serving Pole.

Hurkacz fired 19 aces and saved the first 6 break points he faced, but Zverev’s serve proved even more potent, and tellingly the German did not face a single break point.

Zverev saved one match point at 4-6 in the second set breaker with a stunning forehand passing shot that barely clipped the line.

Hurkacz then let slip another opportunity to lift the trophy by missing a neutral cross-court backhand wide.

After earning the lone service break of the match at 3-3 in the decider, Zverev successfully held the rest of the way to thrill the Sydney fans keen for more action.

“I have absolutely no idea [how I won]. Also I saved a match point hitting a passing shot this much on the line, so this is how tennis goes sometimes,” Zverev said. “You win and lose by millimetres and today I was lucky enough in a way.

“But obviously it’s not over yet. We still have mixed doubles to play and we’ll see how that goes.”

Alexander Zverev & Laura Siegemund edged out Hubert Hurkacz & Iga Swiatek in the mixed doubles match tiebreak to land the United Cup for Germany

© Brett Hemmings/Getty Images

The mixed proved to be a cliff-hanger, with all to play for and some nerves coming into play from both teams.

The Germans secured the first break, and despite facing a break point in the following game, they kept their one-break advantage, which was enough to win the first set, 6-4.

The Poles got the better of the second, though, after some struggles, while they managed to break early in the second game to lead 2-0, but lost the lead afterwards and found themselves levelled at 3-3.

At 4-3, Siegemund lost her serve, and it was down to Hurkacz, the best server on the court, to serve the set out, but he wasn’t able to convert.

At deciding point, the Poles held a set point, but Hurkacz attempted to go for a big second serve, which he missed, and coughed up a double-fault, allowing the Germans back into play.

The Polish pair had 2 more set points in the next game, on Zverev’s serve, but again they were thwarted, but after Swiatek held, they attacked Siegemund’s serve once more, and finally were rewarded with the second set, 7-5.

It took the match tiebreak to resolve the outcome of the United Cup, and the first team to jump out to a lead were Siegemund & Zverev, who got the first mini-break to go up 3-0.

Swiatek then lost one of her serves, while Siegemund held both of hers, and a 6-1 lead for Germany seemed to be too big a gap to now close, although Hurkacz managed to hold his 2 service points.

Zverev then fired off 2 aces, and, at 8-3, there was little hope left for Poland as Team Germany secured the tie to lift their first United Cup trophy.

“It was really tight. Last year we made it to the semi-finals, this year to the final so hopefully the next step is going to be winning,” Swiatek said during the trophy ceremony. “For sure we’re making progress and I want to thank my team, all the players, the captain [Tomasz Wiktorowski], who I convinced to be a captain. And he did an amazing job, really supported us throughout the whole tournament.”

Team Germany and Team Poland pose for a group photograph following Germany's victory in the United Cup after Alexander Zverev of Germany & Laura Siegemund won their final doubles match against Iga Swiatek & Hubert Hurkacz on Sunday

© Brett Hemmings/Getty Images

A delighted Zverev said: “Congrats to Team Poland, amazing run. It was a matter of millimetres today for you guys to be the champions.

“I know it is upsetting, but you guys all have, I think, an amazing season ahead. Hubi and Iga, especially I think. Iga, congratulations on the MVP. I said it before in an interview, I think having you on a team is like having a cheat code on a video game, so it’s amazing what you’ve been doing for the past few years and, I think, you have a big season ahead.”

Despite Poland’s loss, Swiatek continued her dominant form from a year ago, extending her active winning streak to 16 matches, a stretch that began last autumn with runs through Beijing and Cancun to end the season.



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