Australia secures spot in United Cup quarter-finals with victory over USA

Lleyton Hewitt has lauded his team’s resilient attitude after Australia escaped the group of death at the United Cup to secure a spot in the quarter-finals.

Alex de Minaur started Monday night’s match against defending champions USA with a dominant 6-4, 6-2 victory over world No 10 Taylor Fritz.

Ajla Tomljanović’s loss of 7-6 (8-6), 6-3 to world No 5 Jessica Pegula brought the scores level, making the outcome depend on the mixed doubles match.

Australia faced a challenge as they needed to win the mixed doubles in straight sets in order to top their group, which also included Great Britain.

The accomplished doubles pair Matt Ebden and Storm Hunter delivered, defeating Pegula and Rajeev Ram 6-3, 6-1.

Australia’s chances of reaching the quarter-finals seemed bleak after losing 2-1 to Great Britain on Friday.

However, their unexpected victory against the USA left team captain Hewitt bursting with pride.

“They played exceptionally well, it was fantastic,” Hewitt expressed. “I’m extremely proud. We faced adversity after our first match.

“They gave it their all. It’s a positive sign for Wednesday night.”

Fritz was a key player in the USA’s United Cup success last year, winning four out of his five singles matches, including impressive victories against grand slam finalists Alexander Zverev and Matteo Berrettini.

But he was no match for De Minaur, who delivered 28 winners compared to Fritz’s 19 in the comprehensive 89-minute victory.

Frustrated by De Minaur’s exceptional shots, Fritz threw his racket in anger early in the second set and rested his head on the net in dismay after another splendid winner by De Minaur.

“Today felt like a new year, new me kind of thing,” De Minaur stated, who suffered a three-set defeat against Cameron Norrie on Friday night.

“I was in a great mindset. I played the style of tennis I wanted to play, so I’m very satisfied with that.

“I’ve faced Taylor many times. He possesses explosive firepower, and you have to prevent him from dictating play. I aimed to be aggressive, and I was able to execute. I’m very pleased with it.”

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De Minaur exhibited superb on-court movement throughout the match, and his sliced backhand proved to be a significant weapon.

“I’m trying to demonstrate that I can do much more than just running from side to side,” De Minaur explained.

“I have a few hidden tricks. I need to reveal them more often.”

Returning star Tomljanović faced an early break in the women’s singles match, but she made a strong comeback and was on the verge of winning the first set.

Pegula maintained her composure and saved three set points, while converting four out of six break-point opportunities she had.

In contrast, Tomljanović only converted three out of 11 break-points.

Although she didn’t emerge victorious, it was a much-improved performance by Tomljanović when compared to her 6-2, 6-4 loss to Katie Boulter on Friday night.

“I’m not going to lie, Friday really affected me,” Tomljanović admitted.

“I felt like my level wasn’t there. But coming out today and putting up a good fight, even though I didn’t win, I feel like I had plenty of opportunities.”

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