June 12, 2024

Open Court


FAA, Fernandez – and, last minute, Djokovic and Osaka on for United Cup (updated)

Auger-Aliassime and Fernandez will bring some Canadian star

There didn’t appear to be much interest from the top Canadian players for the first installment of the mixed event in Australia, the United Cup.

But that is set to change this January because Open Court can confirm that Quebecers Félix Auger-Aliassime and Leylah Fernandez have both signed on to play.

That’s good news for the tournament, as both are appealing players and personalities.

And – even better news – Novak Djokovic and the returning Naomi Osaka were last-minute entrants, which adds significantly more lustre to the event.

Osaka had entered earlier. But it was the addition of Yoshihito Nishioka that at least gave them representation on both the men’s and women’s side to have a chance to make the cut.

Osaka (and Japan’s) spot is not guaranteed, though. They didn’t make it on the first cut, and will have to see if they qualify by ranking for one of the two remaining available spots.

Overall, this revamped version of the event is likely to see a lot less star power, for several reasons.

Djokovic and Osaka are last-minute adds to the United Cup, which gives it significantly more star power.

First is that there aren’t two men’s and women’s singles slots. There is only one of each.

And with the lead up to the Australian Open so short as it is – just two weeks – and the No. 1 players required to play in United Cup, a No. 2 could be a top-20 player but sit on the bench for 10 days, even as they’re looking for matches before the first Grand Slam of the season.

So as good as the money could potentially be, the priority during those weeks is match play.

As well, Russia and Belarus are not permitted to play. So that means a lot of high-ranked players on both the men’s and women’s sides won’t be in the event.

Still, nearly all of the nations (listed below) have six players on the roster. Which means that, barring injury or ties being decided in singles, there are four lesser-known players from each country there basically to practice with the stars and cheerlead. For guaranteed money, though.

The identity of two of the 18 nations will be picked next month, based on best ranking at Nov. 20.

Auger-Aliassime and Fernandez will bring some Canadian star power to the United Cup.
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Each team has to have at least two men and two women, with the shortened format one women’s singles, one men’s singles and one mixed doubles. Most of the teams, as mentioned, have three of each.

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Who’s in so far?

Here is the list of entrants (subject to last-minute changes, of course).

Six teams are picked according to the highest-ranked ATP player, six with the highest-ranked WTA player, and the final six with the best combined rankings of the nation’s top male and female players.

The “ATP teams”

1. Serbia:

Men: Novak Djokovic, Hamad Medjedovic, Nikola Cacic.
Women: Olga Danilovic, Natalija Stevanovic, Dejana Radanovic

2. Norway

Men: Casper Ruud, Andreja Petrovic, Nicolai Budkov Kjaer
Women: Malene Helgo, Ulrikke Eikeri

3. Germany:

Men: Alexander Zverev, Maximilian Marterer, Kai Wehnelt
Women: Angelique Kerber, Tatjana Maria, Laura Siegemund

4. Australia

Men: Alex de Minaur, John Millman, Matthew Ebden
Women: Ajla Tomljanovic, Storm Hunter, Ellen Perez

5. Canada

Men: Félix Auger-Aliassime, Alexis Galarneau, Adil Shamasdin
Women: Leylah Fernandez, Stacey Fung

6. TBA (to be named Nov. 20)

There will be a United Cup reunion of epic Hopman cup pair Kerber and Zverev for Germany.

The “WTA Teams”

1. Poland

Women: Iga Swiatek, Katarzyna Kawa, Katarzyna Piter
Men: Hubert Hurkacz, Daniel Michalski, Jan Zielinski

2. USA

Women: Jessica Pegula, Alycia Parks, Desirae Krawczyk
Men: Taylor Fritz, Denis Kudla, Rajeev Ram

3. Greece

Women: Maria Sakkari, Despina Papamichail, Valentini Grammatikopoulou
Men: Stefanos Tsitsipas, Stefanos Sakellaridis, Petros Tsitsipas

4. Czech Republic

Women: Marketa Vondrousova, Sara Bejlek, Miriam Kolodziejova
Men: Jiri Lehecka, Vit Kopriva, Petr Nouza

5. France

Women: Caroline Garcia, Amandine Hesse, Elixane Lechemia
Men: Adrian Mannarino, Antoine Escoffier, Edouard Roger-Vasselin

6. TBA (to be named Nov. 20)

The “Combined Best”

1. Croatia

Men: Borna Coric, Nino Sedarusic, Ivan Dodig
Women: Donna Vekic, Petra Marcinko, Tena Lukas

2. Great Britain

Men: Cameron Norrie, Dan Evans, Neal Skupski
Women: Katie Boulter, Francesca Jones, Maia Lumdsen

3. China

Men: Zhang Zhizhen, Bu Yunchaokete, Sun Fajing
Women: Zheng Qinwen, You Xiaodi

4. Netherlands

Men: Tallon Griekspoor, Thiemo de Bakker, Wesley Koolhof
Women: Arantxa Rus, Arianne Hartono, Demi Schuurs

5. Spain

Men: Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, Roberto Carballes Baena, David Vega Hernandez
Women: Sara Sorribes Tormo, Marina Bassols Ribera, Nuria Parrizas Diaz

6. Italy

Men: Lorenzo Sonego, Flavio Cobolli, Andrea Pellegrino
Women: Jasmine Paolini, Nuria Brancaccio, Angelica Moratelli

Teams in contention for the final spots

The two nations yet to be named will be confirmed Nov. 20, based on the rankings on that date.

If nothing changes drastically, those are likely to be Latvia for the WTA spot (Jelena Ostapenko and … no one you’ve likely heard of on the men’s side) leading the team. Chile leads for for the ATP spot, with Nicolas Jarry’s ranking putting them in front.

Other contenders include Brazil with Beatriz Haddad Maia and Thiago Seyboth Wild, Argentina (with Tomas Etcheverry and Nadia Podoroska) and Japan (with Osaka and Yoshihito Nishioka).

You can already see that late entries changed things. Varvara Gracheva had been entered for France. But with the late entry from Caroline Garcia, that bumped her to the No. 2 spot in singles.

She knows she’s unlikely to play. And so her name no longer appears on the list and you’d expect she’d play one of the regular WTA events.

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