Taylor Fritz beat Alexander Zverev 6-1, 6-4 on Monday at the United Cup mixed team tournament in Sydney to give the US a 2-0 lead over Germany.
Fritz, ninth in the world, collected 96% (26/27) of his first-serve points and defeated Zverev, ranked 12th overall, in 64 minutes.
The American initially took lead on serve by winning the first five games of the match.
He kept up the pressure to beat Zverev, who was playing for only the second time since June, when he tore ligaments in his right ankle in the semi-finals against Spain’s Rafael Nadal at the French Open.
The 25-year-old Fritz, who beat Czech Jiri Lehka in their opening match, is now 3-4 against Zverev and 2-0 in the United Cup.
If the US beat Germany or lost 3–2, it would advance to the quarterfinals of Group C.
Madison Keys followed Frese and extended the United States’ lead to 2–0, defeating Julie Niemeyer 6–2, 6–3 for her second win of the season.
The duel continues on Tuesday, when Jessica Pegula faces off against Oscar Otte, Laura Siegmund and Francis Tiafor.
“I think my overall game was solid,” Keys said. “I tried to serve as little first serve as possible to make things easier, as it should be in a tennis match,” he said.
Elsewhere, Casper Ruud, who starts 2023 and ends 2022, beat Brazil’s Thiago Monteiro 6-3 in his first singles match of the new year to improve Norway’s position at the United Cup, a mixed team tournament in Australia. Beaten 6-2.
Rude triumphed in 2022 when he reached No. 2 in the world rankings before ending the year as No. 3 after reaching the ATP Finals title match.
Her start to the previous season in Australia was less memorable: she injured her ankle during training and was forced to withdraw from the Australian Open the day before her first round match.
On Sunday, Rude had some trouble before making or winning the Norway-Brazil match.
Norway trailed 2–0 when they faced Monteiro at Brisbane’s Pat Rafter Arena.
He won from the pitch after 72 minutes and extended his personal best against Monteiro to 3–0.
Ruud fell behind 2–0 in the second set after winning the first set comfortably, but went on to win six games in a row to claim victory.
Rude said, “You had to win or win, so maybe I was feeling a little bit of pressure.” “But I managed to get off to a good start and have a great start to the new year playing tennis in Australia.
“I’ve always felt very motivated to play in Australia. Last year was a bit unfortunate. I didn’t play at the Australian Open. I sprained my ankle the day before my first round, so I’m off to a good start to the season here.” Really happy to have done it and it’s a perfect way to start another year on tour.
Ruud’s victory delayed Norway’s final defeat in Group E.
Laura Pigosi defeated Ulrike Eckeri 6–3, 6–4, and Brazil won 3–1 in the latter.
Former Wimbledon champion and Australian Open finalist Petra Kvitova beat Laura Sigmund 6-4, 6-2 to give the Czech Republic an unassailable 3-0 lead over Germany in Pool C in Sydney.
The game was much closer than the score suggests. Siegmund had 11 break points, of which Kvitova saved nine break points and the Czech served 10 double faults for the tie.
Spain’s Rafael Nadal, who lost his last 2022 singles match to Cameron Norrie on Saturday, was to be paired with Paula Badosa in the Spain-Great Britain mixed doubles match later in the day.
Two singles matches, one for women and one for men, are played in each of the two rounds and the other is a five-game duel in mixed doubles.
Teams from 18 countries are participating in the first Combined Cup, competing in Brisbane, Perth and Sydney until 4 January. The three city-and-country champions with the next best scores from the group stage will meet at the Ken Rosewall Arena on January 6-8 to determine the overall winner.