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Germany Battles Past Poland to Win United Cup

Team Germany celebrates its United Cup championship at Ken Rosewall Arena in Sydney. Photo credit: United Cup Facebook

Powered by team tenacity, German willed its way to the United Cup.

Alexander Zverev and Laura Siegemund played a commanding tiebreaker defeating Hubert Hurkacz and Iga Swiatek 6-4, 5-7, 10-4 to capture the United Cup with a thrilling 2-1 comeback win over Poland in Sydney tonight.

The dramatic duel ended at 12:45 a.m. local time at Ken Rosewall Arena with German captain Torben Beltz vowing to keep the victory party pumping all night long after a second straight late-night rousing rally from his team that was very nearly down and out.

“It’s been absolutely amazing, it’s been a pleasure, it’s been absolutely so much fun for everybody being a part of this team especially for me,” Zverev said after leading Germany’s comeback to the Cup that saw it save multiple championship points in the semifinal win over Australia and tonight.

World No. 1 Swiatek staked Poland to a 1-0 lead soaring through nine straight games in a crushing 6-3, 6-0 conquest of former world No. 1 Angelique Kerber, who launched her comeback at this United Cup after an 18-month maternity leave giving birth to her first child. Swiatek earned tournament MVP honors for her efforts.

A 10-day competition featuring 18 nations came down to one man making a stand.

Olympic gold-medal champion Zverev delivered a double dose of heroic play to carry Germany to the Cup.

First, Zverev fought off two championship points in the second-set tiebreaker out-dueling Hurkacz 6-7(3), 7-6(6), 6-4 to level this final and force the decisive mixed doubles match.

After a short break, Zverev laid it all on the line with a tremendous serving performance and shared dynamic net play with Siegemund to pull off an improbable late night into early morning comeback.

“Congrats to Team Poland, amazing run, a matter of millimeters today for you guys to be the champions,” Zverev said. “I know it’s upsetting, but you guys all have an amazing season ahead, Hubi and Iga especially I think.

“Iga congratulations on MVP. I think having you on a team is like having a cheat code on a video game. It’s amazing what you’ve been doing the last few years. I think you have a big season ahead so congratulations to all of you guys.”

For the second straight tie, the German team of Zverev and Siegemund pulled out mixed magic to win a thriller.

The German duo showed their character denying a pair of match points defeating Australian world No. 1 doubles player Storm Hunter and Matthew Ebden 7-6(2), 6-7(2), 15-13 to clinch a rousing 2-1 semifinal win over host Australia at Ken Rosewall Arena in a dizzying drama that ended at 2:15 a.m. local time.

In that tie, Kerber saved two match points, climbing back from the brink beating Ajla Tomljanovic 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(7) to force the mixed doubles match after Alex de Minaur edged Zverev in three sets.

“Angie, welcome back, you missed the difficult moments, you missed the heartbreaks, you missed the match point down,” Zverev said. “So I think there’s no better way to say welcome back.”

Former Australian Open champion Kerber, who previously partnered Zverev to successive Hopman Cup final losses to the Swiss team of Roger Federer and Belinda Bencic, said United Cup was the ideal return.

“For me this is the perfect comeback,” Kerber said. “One half of my heart is Polish. “It was a great comeback for me and it feels so so great to be on court again starting with a team event…

“Sascha, you are my hero this week. It’s great to have you by my side.”

It was an emotionally crushing loss for Poland, a 2022 semifinalist, which nearly hand its hands up the Cup with Hurkacz holding two championship points at 6-4 in the second set of tonight’s men’s singles.

The booming serving Hurkacz could not close and a fired-up Zverev flipped the switch to again give Germany new life.

“It was a close battle, but you guys deserved it really, really well played,” the humble Hurkacz said afterward. “Congrats to Iga for most valuable player trophy–she deserved it.

“She’s the No. 1 player in the world and she showed it here. She was carrying me on mixed doubles as well so it was a pleasure.”