A nail-biting mixed doubles showpiece gave the relentless German team the ultimate triumph over top-seeded Poland to become the 2024 United Cup champions at Ken Rosewall Arena in Monday’s early hours.
Throughout ten days of high-level team competition, Germany and Poland built their paths toward a maiden appearance at the United Cup final held at the Sydney Olympic Park Tennis Centre.
The nations squared off in a fierce battle for the title at Ken Rosewall Arena on Sunday evening. At stake, nothing but the crown, on-court, stellar lineups eager to give their best for their teams.
Eventually, Germany, led by an unrelenting Alexander Zverev, got the better of its opponents headed by WTA World No. 1 Iga Swiatek, who launched her 2024 season at the event, staying undefeated.
The four-time Grand Slam champion’s dazzling tennis display earned her the Most Valuable Player Trophy.
Zverev partnered with Laura Siegemund to play the mixed doubles decider against Swiatek and Hubert Hurkacz, shocking the Poles by fighting from a set down to seal the championship match 6-4, 5-7, 10-4, wrapping up a 2-1 triumph after one hour and 44 minutes.
“It’s been absolutely amazing. It’s been a pleasure, and it’s been so much fun for everybody to be part of this team, especially for me,” Zverev said during the trophy ceremony, addressing his teammates.
In addition, he shared a few words with the Pole squad, stressing: “Congrats to Team Poland, amazing run. It was a matter of millimeters today for you guys to be the champions.”
“Iga, congratulations on the MVP. 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.”
The World No. 7, on double duty, played five hours to help his country notch the knockout semifinals on Saturday evening against home nation Australia, ending the mixed doubles match with cramps.
Less than 24 hours later, the 26-year-old hit the court to play the men’s singles match against World No. 9 Hurkacz.
After a grueling three-hour contest, he defeated the former Miami Open winner 6-7(3), 7-6(6), 6-4 to force a decider mixed doubles.
The 21-time ATP titlist dropped the opener, unable to halt the Polish player’s booming serve – won 87 percent of the points on his first delivery and 56 percent on his second, fending off the lone breakpoint he faced.
Despite signs of cramps, Zverev rallied to steal the second set by clinically saving two match points in the tiebreak.
Furthermore, a tight third set would see the 2020 US Open runner-up overpowering his adversary by breaking serve in the seventh game, marching to even the tie 1-1.
“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 recalled after the encounter.
Adding: “Obviously, mentally and physically [it was] extremely difficult because playing three days in a row, singles and mixed, is tough.”
Earlier, Poland pocketed the women’s singles match at the hands of Swiatek, 22, who took down former world number one Angelique Kerber 6-3, 6-0 in a 70-minute opener.
“I felt like she was really picking the right spots to play, and she surprised me sometimes with her decision-making and choices,” the Warsaw native outlined.
Assessing the contest, she remarked: “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.”
The 35-year-old from Bremen, who returns from an 18-month break from tour-level competition, scored her first win over Australian Ajla Tomljanovic in the event semifinals.
For its part, Poland seemed to have found the perfect formula in the mixed-team competition, showcasing a dominant campaign, losing just one match while improving last year’s performance to advance to the final with a stunning 11-1 record.
“It was really tight. Last year, we made it to the semifinals, this year to the final. Hopefully, the next step is going to be winning,” Swiatek asserted.
“For sure, we’re making progress, and I want to thank my team, all the players, and the captain [Tomasz Wiktorowski], who I convinced to be a captain. And he did an amazing job supporting us throughout the whole tournament.”
The combined ATP-WTA international team event, featuring an 18-country lineup, ran over ten days across two host cities, Perth and Sydney.
Perth served as city host to Poland, competing at the RAC Arena against Brazil and Spain to finish on top of Group A.
In the quarterfinal bound, they ousted China 3-0, making its debut at the tournament.
Next, they traveled to Sydney, where a 3-0 triumph over France sent the team to the final.
Meanwhile, Germany, based in Sydney from the onset, finished second in Group C behind France, while Italy ended third.
However, after the Group Stage, the team started to find their rhythm, standing out for the resilience showcased within each tie.
On Friday, they ousted Greece to punch a ticket into the semifinals; on Saturday, they played an epic matchup to power past Australia on home soil, setting up a meeting with Poland to lift the trophy in their second appearance.