Stefanos Tsitsipas triumphs in United Cup opener as Taylor Fritz and Madison Keys give USA winning start

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Stefanos Tsitsipas battled back after losing the opening set to outlast Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov 4-6 6-2 7-6(4) and give Greece a 2-0 lead on the first day of the inaugural United Cup mixed team tournament in Perth on Thursday.

Taking to the court after Despina Papamichail put Greece up 1-0 with a 3-6 6-4 6-1 win over Isabella Shinikova, Tsitsipas shook off signs of rust and showed his fighting qualities before sealing the match with an ace.

Maria Sakkari can seal the tie for Greece with victory over Viktoriya Tomova when Group A action resumes on Friday.

The $15 million tournament -- which replaces the short-lived ATP Cup men’s team event as the 2023 season-opener and concludes with the final in Sydney on Jan. 8 -- features 18 countries with ties played in Brisbane, Perth and Sydney.

Earlier, Taylor Fritz and Madison Keys began their build-up for next month’s Australian Open with solid displays to give the United States a 2-0 lead over Czech Republic in Sydney.

Playing at Ken Rosewall Arena, Fritz began with a 6-3 6-4 win over Jiri Lehecka before Keys downed Marie Bouzkova 6-4 6-3 to put the Americans in control of the United Cup tennis Group C tie.

“In a team event, first match of the year, there are always some nerves, so it’s great to come out and get the team ahead,” said Fritz, who saved both break points he faced in the match.

The U.S. can expect a tougher challenge on day two as world number three Jessica Pegula takes on double Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova. Frances Tiafoe will then face Tomas Machac, with a mixed doubles match deciding the tie if it is locked at 2-2.

In Brisbane, Lorenzo Musetti helped Italy level their Group E meeting with Brazil at 1-1 with a 6-3 6-4 victory over Felipe Meligeni Alves. Beatriz Haddad Maia had put the South Americans ahead with a 6-2 6-0 win over Martina Trevisan.

Great Britain made a convincing start as Cameron Norrie eased past Australia’s Alex de Minaur 6-3 6-3 and Katie Swan doubled their advantage when she beat Zoe Hives.