As somebody who is aware of what it takes to achieve the highest of the sport, Queensland tennis legend Patrick Rafter is in little question concerning the degree WTA World No. 1 Iga Swiatek will convey to Brisbane for the inaugural United Cup.
“Swiatek is a good participant,” stated Rafter of the three-time Grand Slam champion and Group Poland star on Sunday throughout a go to to Pat Rafter Enviornment, the venue which bears his title and is about to host group-stage motion on the new blended groups occasion. “I noticed [her play] so much as a result of I watched a number of Ash [Barty] enjoying. So every time I watched Ash as effectively, they had been arising in opposition to one another, and he or she’s had a very nice yr.
“She’s obtained a number of smarts about her, she’s a type of ladies that I assumed had that form of X aspect a part of the sport and by all accounts is a very pretty lady as effectively. I do know Ash is a very large fan of hers, so she’ll be nice to have right here.”
World No. 12 Belinda Bencic and No. 15 Beatriz Haddad Maia are among the many different WTA stars representing their international locations from 29 December to 4 January in Brisbane, the place they are going to be joined by some heavy-hitters from the ATP Tour. ATP World No. 3 Casper Ruud, No. 10 Hubert Hurkacz, No. 16 Matteo Berrettini and 2014 Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka will all hope to assist their respective nations qualify for the United Cup Remaining 4, to be held in Sydney from 6-8 January.
“Ruud [is here], Hurkacz is right here, Berrettini, you’ve got obtained some actually sturdy gamers right here,” stated Rafter. “However you are additionally going to see some contemporary faces and names that you simply won’t know who’re really very, superb gamers too, and doubtless the following up-and-comers. So this will likely be a reasonably thrilling match.”
The United Cup is about to kick off the 2023 season on each the ATP Tour and the WTA Tour, with 18 nations competing in six teams throughout Brisbane, Perth and Sydney. Every tie will comprise of two ATP and two WTA singles matches, and one blended doubles match, and the round-robin format of the group stage ensures some early-season clashes between among the world’s greatest stars.
“You are going to see among the nice gamers enjoying a number of matches,” stated Rafter. “A variety of the occasions if a participant does come down right here and so they lose first spherical you aren’t getting to see them once more. You may be assured these matches.
“The idea of staff sports activities has been working very well. I believe we noticed it right here with the ATP Cup. We noticed how engaged all of them had been with their staff and their containers and issues like that. The United Cup goes to have the identical sort of really feel. Just like the previous Davis Cup, Blllie Jean King Cup, these sort of occasions… I believe [the idea] has some legs and I am wanting ahead to seeing what occurs.”
Throughout his stellar profession on the ATP Tour, Rafter lifted 11 tour-level titles together with back-to-back victories on the US Open in 1998 and 1999, and reached No. 1 within the Pepperstone ATP Rankings in 1999. He believes the United Cup gives one thing distinctive for present-day gamers on each Excursions and is optimistic concerning the affect it could possibly have on the way forward for the sport.
“It is an ideal idea,” stated Rafter. “Let’s have a look at the way it goes. Tennis Australia are actually good, they prefer to attempt new initiatives. They’re having a crack on the women and men enjoying collectively. I’m actually to see the way it performs out. Hopefully all of Brisbane and all this space, the encircling areas, will come down and take a look at it.
“Once I performed, you not often noticed the women and men come collectively, [but] they’re beginning to be a part of. I believe it is essential, it is simply further content material, it is simply an additional dynamic with the gamers and the folks within the stands can watch. It is a good suggestion… It is a actually attention-grabbing idea, this specific one.”