United Cup: Norrie and Swan put Great Britain on top, Greek drama thrills
Cameron Norrie showed few signs of off-season rust as he blew past Alex de Minaur in straight sets to set the tone for a good day for Great Britain at the United Cup.
Katie Swan would back that victory up by claiming a 6-4, 6-3 win over Zoe Hives to leave Great Britain one win away from taking the tie.
Despite playing in front of a partisan home crowd, Norrie did his best to take the supporters out of the contest.
De Minaur found Norrie’s backhand simply too hot to handle and the speedy Aussie was unable to get forward as much as he might have liked.
Norrie survived an early blip when he reeled back a 0/40 situation in the third game of the match.
“I am feeling great,” Norrie said. “First match of the year there is a lot of nerves. It is a tough task to play Demon in Australia on this court, him playing at home. He loves playing here and it was not easy. I ran a lot, absolutely drenched three shirts. A lot of running and it was humid in there. I enjoyed the atmosphere and it was nice to get the win as well.”
Swan notched her 15th match win in her last 17 outings when she put down the challenge of Aussie up-and-comer Hives ranked 772 by the WTA.
After establishing an early advantage, Swan held off an attempted fightback from Hives in an accomplished display from the World No 145.
As expected, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Grigor Dimitrov delivered the match of the day as Greece took on Bulgaria.
Tsitsipas and Dimtrov served up a battle which the Greek won 4-6, 6-2, 7-6(4) victory to give his nation a 2-0 lead in the Group A tie.
Earlier Despina Papamichail had come from a set and a break down to defeat Isabella Shinikova 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 in two hours and 19 minutes.
[There was] a lot of drama,” said Tsitsipas in Team Greece’s post-match press conference. “Both of us I think were serving extremely well during the course of the entire match. There weren’t a lot of moments that I felt like I could do something except the second set, which went really smoothly from my side.”
Dimitrov had effectively targeted the Tsitsipas serve to win the opening set but the World No 4 found his range on serve to claw it back.
“Grigor gave an unforced error from the first point of the tiebreaker,” said Tsitsipas. “I knew that this was my moment to really go for it. I tried to suppress all emotions. I tried to stay within the moment, let any negative thoughts out of my head, and I continued and cruised from that point onwards.”
Papamichail needed to dig deep to give Greece the advantage, and she is thrilled to have helped set up Maria Sakkari to perhaps clinch the tie when she takes on Viktoriya Tomova.
“I’m playing with a really strong team,” said Papamichail on court afterwards. “Maria [Sakkari] is a big example for me, so the least I could do was fight my heart out.”
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