The brand-new United Cup is into its fourth day of action around Australia, but the hosts have copped another major blow with top-ranked woman Ajla Tomljanovic forced to withdraw from the tournament.
Meanwhile, the Adelaide International 1 tournament – a combined WTA 500 and ATP 250 – has kicked off.
In the United Cup this evening, Rafael Nadal is expected to front for Spain in mixed doubles.
Follow all the action in our live blog below!
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Britain dominate Australia in United Cup | 01:40
AJLA OUT OF UNITED CUP
Australian Ajla Tomljanovic has withdrawn from a second United Cup clash as she continues to battle a knee complaint that luckily is believed to only be minor.
Australia’s top-ranked women’s player (No. 33) pulled out of the opening tie against Britain at the last minute, after Nick Kyrgios (world number 22) also withdrew from the tournament with an ankle complaint.
Australia lost the tie 3-2 to Great Britain, and now faces a huge task to overcome Spain in the first edition of the $22 million event.
With Australia’s other top women’s players like Daria Saville (#53) and Priscilla Hon (#154) competing in other tournaments ahead of the Australian Open, world number 772 Zoe Hives will again step in as Australia’s number two player.
Maddison Inglis will be promoted to Australia’s top player, and will face Spain’s world number 13 Paula Badosa on Tuesday night.
Hives will face Nuria Parrizas Diaz (#70) on Monday night, after Alex de Minaur (#24) faces Rafael Nadal (32) in the top men’s singles.
After Inglis plays Badosa on Tuesday, Jason Kubler (#107) faces Spain’s second men’s player Pablo Carreno Busta (#13).
‘NO IDEA HOW’ CHAMP PULLED OFF COMEBACK
The opening match of the Adelaide International 1 (a WTA 500) pitted two Grand Slam champions against each other, and it delivered an epic 2 hour, 12 minute thriller.
Canada’s Bianca Andreescu was 0-6, 2-5 down against Garbine Muguruza of Spain, only to fight back and seal victory 0-6, 7-6 (3), 6-1.
Andreescu, the 2019 US Open champ, won just seven points in the opening set. She said: “In the second set I really had to change my game plan. I told myself to go for it, whatever happens happens. I put more returns in the court, more serves in the court. I’m so glad I pulled that out, I have no idea how.”
Her record improves to 3-0 against the former world number one, and two-time grand slam champion.
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RUUD RUNS RIOT IN ‘MUST-WIN’ MATCH
World number three Casper Ruud cruised past Thiago Monteiro in straight sets to give Norway some hope in their mixed teams United Cup tie against Brazil in Brisbane on Sunday.
After Brazil won both opening singles rubbers Saturday, Ruud’s 6-3, 6-2 victory brought Norway back into the tie ahead of the second singles clash between his countrywoman Ulrikke Eikeri and Laura Pigossi.
Ruud was far too consistent for the 71st ranked Monteiro, who made 27 unforced errors, wrapping up a dominant win in only 70 minutes – and winning the final six games in a row.
“It was a must-win match for Norway so I was maybe feeling the pressure a little bit,” Ruud said. “But I was able to come out with a good start.”
The Norwegian was a runner-up at last year’s French and US Opens and said he was feeling confident ahead of the Australian Open later this month where he will bid to win a first Grand Slam title.
He did not play at Melbourne Park last year after rolling his ankle the day before his first match and said he wanted to make amends.
“I always feel very motivated coming down here playing in Australia. Last year was a bit unfortunate,” he said.
“Hopefully I’ll have a good start to the season down here and this is a perfect way for me to start the year on tour.”
KVITOVA SHINES AGAIN
In Sydney, two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova proved too strong for Germany’s Laura Siegemund, romping home 6-4, 6-2 in 1hr 49mins.
Kvitova saved seven set points in the opening set and defended nine of 11 break points in total.
It ensured the Czech Republic won the tie with an unassailable 3-0 lead, having lost their opening clash with the United States 4-1.
“Playing Laura is always difficult. She’s changing her game a lot, so I had to be ready for everything. I’m glad I got the point,” said Kvitova, who beat American world number three Jessica Pegula earlier in the tournament.
“This group is very difficult but we are enjoying the event a lot and really happy that we (the Czech team) are all together here in Sydney.”
Kvitova – the former world number two – beat world number three Jessica Pegula in her first match of the tournament.
After Kvitova’s win over Siegemund, Germany’s Oscar Otte beat Czech’s Dalibor Svrcina 7-6(1), 6-2 in the men’s number two singles match – Germany’s first win o the event.
BELARUS STAR FUMES AT WIMBLEDON BAN
World number five Aryna Sabalenka said Sunday that Wimbledon’s ban on Russian and Belarusian players last year achieved “nothing” and that she “really hoped” it would change course in 2023.
Following Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, Britain’s Lawn Tennis Association came under pressure from the government to impose a ban.
Russian and Belarusian players, including Sabalenka, were eventually barred from Wimbledon with both the ATP and WTA — the men’s and women’s governing bodies — stripping the Grand Slam of its ranking points in response.
“I’m just really disappointed sport is somehow in politics. We’re just athletes playing their sport. That’s it. We’re not about politics,” she told the Melbourne Age newspaper on the sidelines of the Adelaide International.
“If all of us could do something, we would do it, but we have zero control. “They banned us from Wimbledon, and what did it change? Nothing — they’re still doing this (war), and this is the sad (part) of this situation.”
The LTA, Britain’s governing body for the sport, has yet to announce whether the ban will remain for 2023.
Sabalenka said “no one supports war” and she hoped to be able to play at Wimbledon this year.
“I really hope that I’ll play there (in 2023), just because of the people, to feel this atmosphere,” she said.
Other players barred from the All England Club last year included Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev, and Victoria Azarenka.
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