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United States wins United Cup, Fritz clinches by beating Berrettini

The United States capped off a dominant run through the first-ever United Cup by sweeping Italy 4-0 in the final on Sunday afternoon in Sydney. Following wins by Jessica Pegula and Frances Tiafoe, Taylor Fritz clinched the cup by beating Matteo Berrettini 7-6(4), 7-6(6). Madison Keys added a victory in what amounted to be a dead rubber.

Across round-robin and knockout-stage competition, the United States won all five of its ties and compiled an amazing 22-2 record in overall matches. Both Tiafoe and Keys went 5-0 in singles, while Fritz and Pegula finished with 4-1 records.

There were zero service breaks in the entire Fritz-Berrettini match, but the American always seemed to have the upper hand. Fritz never faced a break point, whereas Berrettini had to save nine–four in the opening set and five more in the second. The world No. 9 eventually converted his second match point at 7-6 in the second-set tiebreaker when Berrettini sent a forehand long, leading to an American mob scene on the court.

“It’s great,” Fritz commented. “It’s amazing for the team to win this event. We came in with really high hopes–or at least I did. I was really happy to be in that position to clinch the match…. Just the emotions when you win and everyone comes running at you, it’s amazing.

“It’s just so much more exciting (when you win a team competition). There’s so much more emotion. You can celebrate with your whole team as opposed to just celebrating by yourself. As soon as I won, I turned to the team and I knew everyone was going to run at me. It was great until Frances full speed head-butted me in the face.”

“We’ve had a really great…like…eternity in Sydney,” Pegula reflected. “It’s been really fun, though. We have been bonding a lot–getting to know each other a lot. We did three escape rooms in one week. Literally everyone last night was saying we need to do an escape room again to keep the team chemistry going. I did not think that was going to happen coming into this. Hey, here we are. It was fun.”

Even though mixed team events are few and far between on the pro tours, Pegula can expect to be on the practice court with Tiafoe plenty of times the rest of this season and beyond.

“You will see a lot of Pegula-Tiafoe practices from this point until whenever she wants to hang it up and I want to hang it up,” Tiafoe assured. “She’s definitely risen my level to a whole other level. She’s unbelievable. (I’m) happy I got to hit with her (and) happy I got to see ‘Clinch Fritz’ and Madison Keys do their thing.

“It’s been a special week. Everybody (was) behind me, too. Yeah, it takes a village to do something special. It’s been a hell of a week.”

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on Twitter at @Dimonator.