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Zverev the hero as world No.7 saves TWO match points, claims singles and mixed doubles ties to win Germany United Cup

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7th January, 2024
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Reigning Olympic champion Alexander Zverev has produced a heroic display to take Germany to United Cup triumph after a gripping win over Poland in the final in Sydney.

Backing up after a near-6am bedtime on Sunday morning following his victorious semi-final mixed doubles tie against Australia, Zverev overcame a one-set deficit, two match points and a cramping body to defeat world No.9 Hubert Hurkacz 6-7 (3-7) 7-6 (8-6) 6-4 in a three-hour thriller to level the tie one-all.  

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He was soon back on court for his his sixth match in three days, partnering with doubles specialist Laura Siegemund in the deciding rubber against Hurkacz and women’s singles world No.1 Iga Swiatek.

Germany took the first set 6-4 but as Sunday night moved into Monday morning the Polish duo responded to take the second 7-5 and force a super tie-break. 

Zverev and Siegemund stepped it up to win the breaker 10-4 and the match.

Fittingly, the winning shot was off Zverev’s raquet, a backhand volley winner that sealed a backs-to-the-wall success against a team that had won 11 of their 12 matches in the event prior to Zverev beating Hurkacz.

It is Germany’s first tennis team triumph since the 1990s. 

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That golden era they won the women’s Federation Cup (now Billie Jean King Cup) in 1992, the men’s Davis Cup in 1993 and the mixed Hopman Cup in 1993 and 1995. That last victory, in Perth, was with Anke Huber and Boris Becker on court. Two years prior their wining duo was Steffi Graf and Michael Stich.

Their modern day heirs also include Angelique Kerber, whose win over Alja Tomljanovic in the semi-final win over Australia, in which she saved two match points, was so crucial.

She was unable to match that feat against Swiatek but pushed the world No.1 hard in the first set at Ken Rosewall Arena before succumbing 6-3 6-0.

The straight-sets result was Swiatek’s 16th consecutive win after the 22-year-old finished a hugely successful 2023 with her 16th and 17th career titles at the China Open and season-ending championship in Mexico.

Playing her first event since rejoining the tour from maternity leave, Kerber performed admirably in the opening rubber, with the one-sided scoreline not a true reflection of how hard Swiatek had to fight in the first set.

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Kerber had multiple break points in the fourth and sixth games of the opening set, but was unable to take advantage.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 07: Torben Beltz, Maximilian Marter, Laura Siegemund, Angelique Kerber, Tatjana Maria & Aleanxder Zverev of Germany pose with the champions trophy after defeating Team Poland in the final on Day 9 of the 2024 United Cup at Ken Rosewall Arena on January 07, 2024 in Sydney, Australia (Photo by Robert Prange/Getty Images)

Germany celebrate with the champions trophy after defeating Poland in the United Cup. (Photo by Robert Prange/Getty Images)

Poland looked set to secure a first team title when Hurkacz led the seventh-ranked Zverev by a set and 6-4 in the second-set tiebreaker.

Zverev, though, dug deep to stage an astonishing Houdini act.

On the first match point, he pulled off a remarkable on-the-run forehand winner that only just clipped the line.

He served his way out of the second set to lay the foundation for a drama-charged deciding set, which Zverev won with a decisive late break of serve to clinch victory after two hours and 59 minutes.

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Zverev conceded he had “absolutely no idea” how he pulled the match out of the fire, having been still on court after 2.00am on Sunday helping Germany complete an epic semi-final victory over Australia.

“I mean, also I saved a match for hitting a passing shot this much on the line. This is how tennis goes sometimes. You win and lose by millimetres sometimes,” he said.

© AAP

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