As somebody who is aware of what it takes to achieve the highest of the sport, Queensland tennis legend Patrick Rafter is in little doubt concerning the degree WTA World No. 1 Iga Swiatek will deliver to Brisbane for the inaugural United Cup.
“Swiatek is a good participant,” mentioned Rafter of the three-time Grand Slam champion and Staff Poland star on Sunday throughout a go to to Pat Rafter Enviornment, the venue which bears his identify and is ready to host group-stage motion on the new blended groups occasion. “I noticed [her play] loads as a result of I watched a variety of Ash [Barty] enjoying. So at any time when I watched Ash as properly, they have been developing towards one another, and she or he’s had a very nice 12 months.
“She’s acquired a variety of smarts about her, she’s a kind of ladies that I believed had that form of X ingredient a part of the sport and by all accounts is a very pretty woman as properly. I do know Ash is a very massive 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 nations 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 Ultimate 4, to be held in Sydney from 6-8 January.
“Ruud [is here], Hurkacz is right here, Berrettini, you’ve got acquired some actually robust gamers right here,” mentioned Rafter. “However you are additionally going to see some contemporary faces and names that you simply may not know who’re really very, superb gamers too, and possibly the subsequent up-and-comers. So this can be a fairly thrilling match.”
The United Cup is ready 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,” mentioned Rafter. “Lots of the instances if a participant does come down right here and so they lose first spherical you aren’t getting to see them once more. You can be assured these matches.
“The idea of group 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 have been with their group and their containers and issues like that. The United Cup goes to have the identical sort of really feel. Just like the outdated Davis Cup, Blllie Jean King Cup, these sort of occasions… I believe [the idea] has some legs and I am trying 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 provides one thing distinctive for present-day gamers on each Excursions and is optimistic concerning the affect it could actually have on the way forward for the sport.
“It is a fantastic idea,” mentioned Rafter. “Let’s examine the way it goes. Tennis Australia are actually good, they prefer to strive 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 encompassing areas, will come down and take a look at it.
“After I performed, you hardly ever 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 individuals within the stands can watch. It is a good suggestion… It is a actually attention-grabbing idea, this specific one.”