United Cup: Zverev’s victory in mixed doubles helps Germany beat Australia in semifinal

Alexander Zverev lost his singles match to Alex de Minaur of Australia on Saturday but returned to Ken Rosewall Arena later in the night to lead Germany to the United Cup final.

Alexander Zverev lost his singles match to Alex de Minaur of Australia on Saturday but returned to Ken Rosewall Arena later in the night to lead Germany to the United Cup final.

Zverev and Laura Siegemund defeated Matthew Ebden and Storm Hunter 7-6(2), 6-7(2), 15-13 in a match that ended at 2:15 a.m. to clinch their country’s 2-1 win over Australia. Germany will face Poland, led by Iga Swiatek and Hubert Hurkacz, on Sunday evening for the trophy.

“Special thanks to Laura, I think she was the MVP today. Actually, Angie was the MVP today because she saved my a**, so that was very nice,” Zverev said of Angelique Kerber, who won the tie’s opening match to give Germany the first point. Kerber saved two match points to defeat Ajla Tomljanovic 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(7) in two hours, 34 minutes.

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“After the singles match it was obviously disappointing, but I thought the level of the match was extremely high. So yes you’re disappointed, but we were still in the tie and we still had a chance to win it and I’m happy that we did that today,” he said.

The victors saved two match points in the Match Tie-break, with Zverev hitting a forehand winner at 9/10 and Siegemund curling a stunning lob at 11/12.

The deciding mixed doubles clash began at midnight and lasted for two hours and 19 minutes with many momentum shifts. Germany led by a set and a break, let slip their advantage and then found a way to triumph in the Match Tie-break.

De Minaur forced the late-night deciding mixed doubles when he rallied past two-time ATP Finals champion Zverev of Germany 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 in two hours and 40 minutes.

De Minaur earned his third consecutive win against a Top 10 player in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings after claiming victories against American Taylor Fritz and World No. 1 Novak Djokovic of Serbia.

With his triumph over World No. 7 Zverev, De Minaur is now guaranteed to break into the Top 10 himself for the first time on Monday, becoming the first Australian since United Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt in July 2006 to do so.

But like has been the case for De Minaur throughout his career, the home favourite found inspiration in Ken Rosewall Arena and the raucous Sydney crowd.

On the court where he reached his first ATP Tour final in 2018 and lifted his maiden tour-level trophy the following year, De Minaur roared to life with precise aggression, taking Zverev out of his comfort zone. He won 10 of 14 net points in the second set, according to Infosys ATP Stats.

The Australian hit a forehand winner down the line to break for 5-3 in the second set, his first break of the match. With that one shot, De Minaur secured the momentum and never relinquished it.

The seven-time ATP Tour titlist then broke to begin the third set when Zverev curled a neutral forehand wide. He finished off the match with an overhead, sending the fans into a frenzy.

In two years of the United Cup, De Minaur has upset Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. He trails Zverev 6-2 in their ATP head-to-head series, but both wins have come in team competition.

(IANS)

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