ATP

United Cup draw throws up potential Nadal-Kyrgios encounter, with Swiatek leading Poland

By Sports Desk November 10, 2022

Rafael Nadal and Nick Kyrgios could face off in the inaugural United Cup, while WTA world number one Iga Swiatek will represent Poland.

The United Cup is the new warm-up tournament for the ATP and WTA Tour seasons, and will take place in Australia in December and January.

While ATP world number one Carlos Alcaraz will not feature, compatriot Nadal will be competing for Spain, and they have been drawn alongside Australia and Great Britain in Group D.

Those matches will be played in Perth, with a clash between Nadal and Kyrgios, who have enjoyed an entertaining rivalry down the years, in the offing.

They were set to meet in the semi-finals at Wimbledon this year, but Nadal withdrew due to injury, handing Kyrgios a walkover into his first grand slam final, which he lost to Novak Djokovic, who will not be playing in Australia.

Serbia are not among the batch of teams taking part, but even so, there remains doubt whether Djokovic would be able to enter Australia given his stance against the COVID-19 vaccine, which eventually saw him deported from the country after a drawn-out legal battle ahead of this year's Australian Open.

Emma Raducanu has decided against playing for the British team, which also does not feature Andy Murray.

Casper Ruud, the beaten US Open finalist, will play for Norway in Group E, in Brisbane, while Alexander Zverev will be in action for Germany.

Swiatek is the biggest name from the WTA Tour to enter, with the brilliant 21-year-old lining up alongside Hubert Hurkacz for Poland in Group B.

Maria Sakkari and Stefanos Tsitsipas, along with his brother Petros, will team up for Greece in Group A.

Two more countries will be admitted to the tournament later in November.

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    With Nadal struggling to stay fit and build up form, it appears Djokovic is the most likely man to add to his haul and finish his career as the outright most successful man in grand slam history.

    "Incredible effort, again! Many congratulations," Federer wrote in an Instagram story, acclaiming Djokovic's straight-sets win over Stefanos Tsitsipas in Sunday's final at Melbourne Park.

    Djokovic's Professional Tennis Players Association co-founder Vasek Pospisil described the Serbian as the tennis "man of steel". Fellow ATP Tour stars Denis Shapovalov and Holger Rune also sent messages of praise on social media to Djokovic, as did Jamaican sprinting legend Usain Bolt.

  • Australian Open: Kyrgios expects Djokovic to 'get to 28 slams easy' Australian Open: Kyrgios expects Djokovic to 'get to 28 slams easy'

    Novak Djokovic has been tipped by Nick Kyrgios to win at least 28 grand slams and become the most successful singles player in tennis history.

    The prediction came after 35-year-old Djokovic reached 22 major triumphs on Sunday by landing the Australian Open title for a 10th time.

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    In the wake of Djokovic beating Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Melbourne Park final, Kyrgios posted on Twitter: "Haha I told you. We created a monster. Well done @DjokerNole [Djokovic].

    "Sat on my couch and enjoyed the entire show. He will get to 28 slams easy."

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    Looking at his sartorial choice, Kyrgios saluted Djokovic's audacity, writing: "The jacket with 22 on it is elite energy, haha I love it…. NEED MORE."

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    Djokovic, who was struggling with a hamstring injury in the first week of the tournament, was in floods of tears and dropped to the floor in his box after being mobbed by his team following what he described as "the biggest victory of my life" in his on-court interview.

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    "It required an enormous mental energy really to stay present, to stay focused, to take things day by day, and really see how far I can go.

    "If I turn back the time two and a half weeks ago, I wasn't really liking my chance in this tournament with the way I felt with my leg. Then it was just a matter of survival of every single match, trying to take it to the next round.

    "The good thing about the grand slam here is that you have a day between the matches, so it allowed me to have more time than normally on some other tournaments to recover, to try to do all the treatments in order to get myself in somewhat of a good state and condition to play and eventually win.

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    Djokovic added: "It was a huge relief and release of the emotions in the end. Just difficult to find any additional words really. It's been a long journey, but a very special one."

    He will head to the French Open in May eyeing major number 23 and is eager to better the great Margaret Court's haul of 24.

    "Of course I am motivated to win as many slams as possible," Djokovic said. "At this stage of my career, these trophies are the biggest motivational factor of why I still compete. That's the case without a doubt.

    "I never really liked comparing myself to others, but of course it's a privilege to be part of the discussion as one of the greatest players of all time. If people see me this way, of course it's very flattering because I know that I give as much effort and energy into trying to win slams as anybody else.

    "I still have lots of motivation. Let's see how far it takes me. I really don't want to stop here. I don't have intention to stop here. I feel great about my tennis. I know that when I'm feeling good physically, mentally present, I have a chance to win any slam against anybody.

    "I like my chances going forward. But, again, nothing is given or nothing is for granted. Of course, I have awareness there's a lot of players that want this trophy or want the number one position in the world.

    "I don't know how many more years I'm going to play or how many more slams I'm going to play. It depends on various things. It doesn't depend only on my body.

    "It's extremely important for me to have the support and love from the close ones, and ability to go and play and keep the balance with the private life, but at the same time have the mental clarity or aspirations to really strive to chase these trophies.

    "Physically I can keep myself fit. Of course, 35 is not 25, even though I want to believe it is. But I still feel there is time ahead of me. Let's see how far I go."

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