Rafael Nadal calls for United Cup overhaul after loss to Alex de Minaur in Sydney | Tennis


Rafael Nadal has called for an overhaul of the fledgling United Cup competition as his Spanish side prepare for the second day of a draw with Australia.

The New Teams Tournament made its debut in Sydney, Perth and Brisbane this season, but has proven more unsuccessful than successful with player withdrawals, a complicated schedule and ties that count for nothing.

Uninvited, Nadal gave his thoughts on the format after losing in three sets to Australian Alex de Minaur, in a tie that means very little given Britain have already progressed from the group after two wins.

“Putting things into perspective (for) this competition, I find a negative point,” said the world No. 2. “The competition is great. The idea is brilliant. It’s not great that today we play for nothing. This is the first year of this competition, so these are the kinds of things that we need to fix, improve and make more interesting for everyone.

Nadal said to begin with that the loser of the first game should face the team that didn’t have a game, so there is more at stake. Spain were unable to progress in the competition after finding themselves beaten 3-1 by Great Britain, meaning the final mixed doubles and then five matches against Australia were largely meaningless.

Nadal later skipped the mixed doubles against Great Britain but said he would have played if it meant getting a point which could have helped the cause if the draw against Australia was live.

Instead, the 23-year-old Australian was able to record his first-ever win over 22-time Grand Slam champion Nadal at the United Cup, beating the Spaniard 3-6, 6-1, 7-5.

Until Monday night in Sydney, de Minaur had never beaten a No.1 or No.2 ranked player in the world – now he’s beaten arguably the best of all time.

“It’s a big win for me, which I really needed. I will cherish it and use it, take all the confidence out of it and hopefully be able to have a good Aussie summer,” de Minaur said.

World No. 2 Nadal started inauspiciously, taking an early break, only to win four straight games to snatch the first set. That momentum continued with another break to start the second set, only for the Sydney local to produce some of their own grit and storm over the next six games.

The decider was a mixed bag – de Minaur’s foot speed and ability to snatch winners from defensive positions against Nadal’s brute strength and experience. The pair traded breaks mid-set before an error-strewn 11th game from Nadal saw de Minaur serve for the game and take the win.

After an uneven half in 2022 and a surprise loss to Britain’s Cameron Norrie in Spain’s opener, questions have been raised about Nadal’s form and motivation as he heads into the twilight of her career.

Since pulling out of the 2022 Wimbledon semi-final against Nick Kyrgios, he has won four on tour from 11 starts.

“I need hours on the pitch; I need battles like this,” the defending champion said from Melbourne Park.

“I have two weeks before the start of the Australian Open. I cannot say that the situation is ideal, but at the same time I cannot say that it is very negative, because for moments , I played well. I think two games will help me. I have to win a few games.

In the second game of the night, Nuria Parrizas Dias was too good for Maddison Inglis, her 6-1, 6-3 victory sealing the tie at one rubber apiece.

Likewise, the United States advanced to the final in the Sydney game after winning a game against Germany on Monday and eventually taking a 2-0 lead in their draw to go along with the 4-1 win over Republic. Czech.

Croatia are one win away from advancing to the final in Perth after taking a 2-0 lead over France, with Borna Coric and Donna Vekic both picking up wins in straight sets on Monday.

Switzerland and Poland tied at 1-1 in Brisbane; Greece and Belgium 1-1 in Perth and Italy lead 2-0 against Norway.


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