MADRID, Dec. 30 (.) –
Spain begins this Saturday its participation in the United Cup, a new mixed tournament and by countries created by the ATP and the WTA, with the ambition of leaving its stamp on the official start of 2023, under the leadership of Rafa Nadal and Paula Badosa.
At the end of October, both world tennis circuits announced the new tournament that will feature mixed teams from 18 countries playing in Brisbane, Perth and Sydney, from December 29 to January 8, as the start of the 2023 season.
Spain will be represented, in addition to Nadal and Badosa, by Pablo Carreño, Albert Ramos, David Vega, Nuria Parrizas and Jessica Bouzas in this new entry to the tennis calendar in January, with the addition of being mixed, which replaces the ATP Cup. The most notable absence, that of Carlos Alcaraz from Murcia, current number one in the world.
With the Australian Open as the first big objective, the title at stake as a country and the adjustment after the holidays will be serious incentives in the 18 teams that are divided into six groups of three. In search of the ticket to the semifinals, Spain shares D with Great Britain and Australia, two qualifiers for the best of five points, with the matches spread over two days and the last one being a mixed doubles.
The Spanish team, which was a finalist in the 2020 and 2022 ATP Cup, will start its participation against the British, already winners of the tie against the hosts, with the point played by Nadal and Cameron Norrie. The Spaniard, at 36, is confident of a good start to the season like the one he achieved in 2022 despite the inactivity of his intervention on his left foot.
The 22 ‘big’ champion linked 20 victories in a row at the start of last year. Now, Nadal, number two in the world, assumes the double responsibility of fine-tuning the game and defending Spain after a new break and a more problematic second leg of 2022.
After withdrawing in the Wimbledon semifinals due to an abdominal injury, the man from Manacor, who became a father for the first time in October, barely played games. The foot also gave a lot of problems to a Nadal who is getting ready for the United Cup as a dress rehearsal and another demanding clash for sure against Alex de Minaur against Australia.
The loss of Nick Kyrgios softened the poster of a first phase in which, after the match of the Balearic Islands, the early hours of Friday to Saturday, Spain will continue with Párrizas against Katie Swan. The next day, the tie will be decided, except for last-minute changes, with the matches Badosa-Harriet Dart, a rematch for the Catalan after her defeat in the last Billie Jean King Cup, and Carreño-Dan Evans, with the mixed doubles as fifth point.
Badosa is also number one like the Balearic Islands, with an eye on a 2023 that he trusts will bring his best version. The Catalan became number two in the world in April but finished the year twelfth, with the need to enjoy herself again and know how to handle the pressure.
The team led by Marc López will begin the second match against the host on Monday with the points Nadal-Alex de Miñaur and Párrizas-Zoe Hives. Meanwhile, Badosa, against Alja Tomljanovic, and Carreño, against Kubler, will once again have the point against Australia at stake the following day.
The United Cup will feature some of the best players in the world, such as the number one, the Polish Iga Swiatek, or the Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas among the participants. However, other heavyweights chose a different way to get ready, such as Novak Djokovic who will play next week in Adelaide or Carlos Alcaraz who will play at the Kooyong Classics exhibition.