Swiatek downs Kerber to put Poland ahead in United Cup final

SYDNEY : Poland took a 1-0 lead over Germany in the final of the $10 million United Cup mixed team tournament on Sunday as world number one Iga Swiatek beat Angelique Kerber 6-3 6-0.

The top seeds in the tournament that started with 18 nations in contention could clinch the title if Hubert Hurkacz can pull off a victory over Alexander Zverev in the men’s singles match that follows at the Ken Rosewall Arena.

Swiatek came into the contest on the back of four straight singles wins this season and stepped up her preparation for the Australian Open starting next Sunday by fending off Kerber after a high-quality start by both players.

The four-times Grand Slam winner took the first set 6-3 as Kerber, who returned to action in the tournament after 18 months on maternity leave, dropped her level slightly towards the end.

The 22-year-old Swiatek turned up the heat to seal a double break in the next set as she wrapped up the win in 70 minutes.

Poland beat France 3-0 on Saturday to make the title clash and improve on their 2023 finish, when they were outclassed by eventual winners the United States in the semi-finals.

Germany sealed a nerve-wracking 2-1 win over hosts Australia in a fiercely contested semi-final that finally finished well past 2 a.m. local time.

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