SYDNEY ( Associated Press) – Taylor Fritz and Madison Keys gave the United States a 2-0 lead over the Czech Republic on Thursday in the first edition of the mixed team tournament United Cup.
Fritz broke Jiri Lehka in the ninth game of the second set to beat the Czech 6-3, 6-4. Keys followed with a 6–4, 6–3 victory over Marie Bouzkova in the next Group C match at the Ken Rosewall Arena in Sydney.
Two singles matches – one for men and one for women – will be held over two days and the second day of mixed doubles will conclude the five-match series.
“At a team event, the first game of the year, it’s always nerve-wracking, so it’s great to go out there and give the team an advantage,” Fritz said. “I hope it gives others some comfort. It’s a difficult position to play in if you’re behind, so it’s good for the team.”
The United States is the third seed in the tournament, along with Jessica Pegula (3) and Frances Tiafoe (19). Czech Republic is seeded 14th.
In the singles series on Friday, Pegula will face double Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova and Tiafoe will face Tomasz Machak. Pegula and Fritz will play mixed doubles.
In the first United Cup, teams from 18 countries will play in Brisbane, Perth and Sydney till January 4. The champions of the three cities and the next best country from the group stage will advance to meet at the Ken Rosewall Arena on January 6-8 to determine the champion.
Greece, the first seed, is led by Stefanos Tsitsipas (3) and Maria Sakkari (6). World number one Inga Swiatek and Hubert Hirkaj (11) are ahead of second seed Poland.
Rafael Nadal will pair up with Paula Badosa (13) for Spain, while Italy will be represented by Matteo Berrettini (16) and Martina Trevisan.
Each city will have two groups of three nations that will compete in a Roden-Robin format.
Other matches on Thursday saw Italy v. Brazil in Group E in Brisbane, Switzerland against Kazakhstan in Group B. In Perth, Greece face Bulgaria in Group A and France against Argentina in Group F.