Week 1

…2023…

First edition of a new team event combining ATP & WTA – United Cup which replaced the ATP Cup (it’d replaced the Hopman Cup in 2020). 18 teams in the mix, six groups, then specific quarterfinals (one loser with the best ratio goes through!), semifinals & final, everything played in three Australian cities (Perth, Brisbane, Sydney). The Americans had the strongest team with two male and two female players in the Top 20, and they confirmed it by winning all five matches without serious troubles.  Taylor Fritz [9], who seems to be a new force in men’s tennis, gave the decisive point to the US. The event marked the official comeback of Alexander Zverev [12] who was sidelined for seven months due to a terrible injury he suffered at Roland Garros, and participated in a ridiculous exhibition event at the end of the last year. His return to the circuit wasn’t successful – the loss to Fritz could be expected, yet his quick defeat to Jiří Lehečka [81] isn’t a good prognostic for the rest of the season. Both matches also lost Rafael Nadal [2] who experiences one of the most difficult periods of his 20-year-old career. The Spaniard has won only 4 of his last 11 matches. Nonetheless, he lost in Australia rather tight matches against the Top 20 players, it’s perhaps a bit optimistic with the Aussie Open on the horizon. Too early to predict he’s finally finished.
The fifth edition of the event in Pune is won by Tallon Griekspoor [95] – he was three points away from defeat in the final. The Dutchman claimed his maiden ATP title in a relatively poor field (the beaten finalist participated in his first final too). In 2021 Griekspoor was sensationally good at the Challenger level (8 titles), yet in 2022 he didn’t do any damage in ATP. In the Hindu city, he took advantage of Marin Čilić‘s (seeded no. 1) withdrawal in the quarterfinal.
Much better players entered the first of two events held in Adelaide this year – four Top 10ers. It seemed highly unlikely someone else would claim the title, but it almost happened – Sebastian Korda [33] had a match point against Novak Đoković [5] in the final when the Serb was playing his least reliable shot – an overhead, jumping – this time it was successful and the rest is history. The Serb got his title no. 92 equalizing achievement of his biggest rival – Nadal. The Serb will turn 36 this year, but he’s still in such an amazing physical condition that 100 titles should pop up in his CV at some point this decade.

…1993…

The first week of a new season, delivered the first Arabian event in ATP history! The two best players at the turn of the 80s and 90s, Boris Becker [5] and Stefan Edberg [2] arrived in the Arabian Peninsula encouraging other top players to do the same in the years to come. They faced each other in the semifinal, and in the final Becker prevailed against Goran Ivanišević [4] in a dramatic encounter between two of the six best-serving players at the time.
Other two players belonging to the mix of best servers at the time, Michael Stich & Guy Forget played a dramatic semifinal match at Hopman Cup – the unofficial event, yet for the first time 30 aces were served within three sets – Stich did it; Forget was serving to win the match before losing 2-6, 7-6(1), 6-7(2). In the mixed doubles which couldn’t change the final outcome of the Germany-France tie, Stich’s partner Steffi Graf sprained her right ankle. The following day she was able to defeat her long-time rival Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario anyway. Czech Republic appeared on the tennis map, on December 31, 1992, Czechoslovakia split into two independent countries. Czechs lost to Spaniards in the semifinal.
Similarly tight final to that one in Doha, occurred in Adelaide where two Swedes co-created a domestic end-game. “I fought as much as I could and I was lucky to win,” Nicklas Kulti [79] said after the 2-hour, 36-minute win over Christian Bergström [58], who had a double match point at 5:4 in the 2nd set and led 4:2 in the decider. “I’m very pleased to have won. I couldn’t have had a better week,” concluded Kulti capturing the Adelaide title for the second time in three years. For Bergström it was another painful final in Adelaide, a year before he lost to Ivanisevic being two points away from victory. These two finals are the only ones in Bergström’s career which is quite intriguing given his three Grand Slam quarterfinals. He delusionally said: “You can be sure that I will be back until I win this tournament.” The weaker field than in Adelaide was witnessed in Kuala Lumpur where the prize money was distinctively higher. It was the first Malaysian Open since 1975.
…Finals 2023…
“United Cup” – Sydney
USA d. Italy 4-0
Pune (ATP 250)
Tallon Griekspoor d. Benjamin Bonzi 4-6, 7-5, 6-3
Adelaide-1 (ATP 250)
(1)Novak Djokovic d. Sebastian Korda 6-7(8), 7-6(3), 6-4
…Finals 1993…
“Hopman Cup” – Perth
Germany d. Spain 2-1
Adelaide (157K $)
Nicklas Kulti d. Christian Bergstrom 3-6, 7-5, 6-4
Kuala Lumpur (275K $)
(4)Richey Reneberg d. (7)Olivier Delaitre 6-3, 6-1
Doha (450K $)
(3)Boris Becker d. (2)Goran Ivanisevic 7-6(4), 4-6, 7-5
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