Top-ranked Iga Swiatek lost to Jessica Pegula 6-2 6-2 in the first rubber of the United Cup semifinals in Sydney. The match lasted only 71 minutes, as Swiatek managed to win just four games against the player that her father Tomasz Swiatek predicted would be her biggest threat on tour.
Poland started the 18-nation mixed-team event in the Brisbane group and Swiatek helped her country’s team led by captain Agnieszka Radwanska progress into the United Cup Final Four. Playing the first match in the semifinals against the United States, Swiatek was quickly brushed aside and sobbed as she found it hard to cope with the rare loss.
Pegula, whose team played the group stage on the same court in Sydney, praised the conditions that suited her and acknowledged that she did have an advantage of not having to get used to the new environment:
[The] conditions are totally different than anywhere else I’ve played her. Obviously maybe I had a little bit of an advantage, they just flew in yesterday. Definitely the fastest conditions I have played her. Every other place I’ve played her has been pretty slow. I think that favoured me a lot, and I was able to use that to my advantage and play a really super clean match. I think I just was able to execute my game plan probably better than I have previous times.
The outcome of this match is probably not surprising to Iga’s father Tomasz, who pointed to Jessica Pegula as his daughter’s biggest threat on the Hologic WTA Tour right now. In a recent interview, when asked whether Ons Jabeur, Paula Badosa or Maria Sakkari would show consistently good results in the coming period, he responded that he would rather single out Pegula:
I respect her work, how consciously and consistently she develops, But of course, each of the tennis players we are talking about has enormous skills, ambition, heart to fight.
Later on Friday at the United Cup, Frances Tiafoe gave the United States a 2-0 lead over Poland with a commanding 6-3 6-3 victory over Kacper Zuk at Ken Rosewall Arena. ATP No.9 Taylor Fritz, the highest-ranked men’s singles player from the United States, can clinch a spot in the final for his country when he takes on ATP No.10 Hubert Hurkacz in the singles rubber that opens play on Saturday. If he does not, the women’s match between Madison Keys and Magda Linette will decide the winner, or the Swiatek/Kurkacz vs. Pegula/Fritz doubles rubber.
The other two United Cup semifinalists are Greece and Italy.