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United Cup preview: USA fancied to defend title Down Under

With the Australian Open not too far over the horizon, some of the world's best head Down Under at the end of 2023 for the United Cup - a mixed team tournament which runs into the new year.

This is only the second ever edition of the event, which made its debut at the end of last year with the USA taking the title and they are expected to mount a strong defence of their crown in Perth and Sydney in the coming weeks.

Great Britain are also involved in the 18-team battle, with the likes of Cameron Norrie and Katie Boulter competing for their country.

WhatUnited Cup
WhereRAC Arena, Perth & Ken Rosewall Arena, Sydney, Australia
When29th December 2023 - 7th January 2024
How to watchTennis Channel
OddsUSA 4/1, Poland 9/2, Greece 13/2, France 7/1, Serbia 8/1

GB dealt a tough hand in group stage

The United Cup begins with a group stage and the 18 nations involved divided across six groups of three teams.

The groups then feature one men's and one women's singles match as well as one mixed doubles match and each group winner, as well as the best runner-up of each city, will progress to the quarter finals - both Perth and Sydney will host three groups.

The nature of the group stage leaves little margin for error and Great Britain could have a testing time in Group C, in which they are joined by the USA and Australia.

The USA are defending champions, having eased to a 4-0 win over Italy in last season's final, and in Taylor Fritz and Jessica Pegula they have two top-ten players at their disposal.

As for Australia, they are down in 15th spot in the seedings, but are of course tournament hosts and Alex de Minaur and Ajla Tomljanovic - their top two players - can be testing opponents on their day.

For Great Britain, Norrie arguably represents their best hope as world number 18 in the men's game, although Boulter has enjoyed a terrific 2023, reaching a career high of 50 in the world rankings after claiming her first WTA title in Nottingham.

Completing the Great Britain squad are Dan Evans, Francesca Jones, Neal Skupski and Maia Lumsden, while Colin Beecher is the team's coach.

Poland look like the USA's greatest competition

At 4/1 in the outright betting, the USA are the team to beat in the United Cup, with both Fritz and Pegula having impressed in the event last year.

But the highest-ranked nation for the 2024 tournament are Poland, who are spearheaded by women's number one Iga Swiatek and men's talent Hubert Hurkacz, who is ninth in the ATP rankings.

They will be reliant on their top two, with Daniel Michalski, Katarzyna Kawa, Jan Zielinski and Katarzyna Piter lacking the same level of experience, but Poland still have a decent shot at glory.

Swiatek won just one Grand Slam in 2023, but she still secured six singles titles in total, winning 68 of her 79 matches throughout the season.

As for Hurkacz, he picked up two titles himself, regularly featuring in the top ten of the ATP rankings, and at 9/2 Poland are worth keeping an eye on.

Top seed Djokovic leads the way for Serbia

It is hard to assess any tennis tournament draw without mentioning Novak Djokovic, although he will be up against it with his Serbia team ranked 13th out of 18 at this year's United Cup.

Unsurprisingly Serbia will be pinning all of their hopes on Djokovic, who won three of the four Grand Slams on offer in 2023, having also pushed Carlos Alcaraz close in a thrilling Wimbledon final.

He was the undisputed number one men's player this season, but the team behind him could be lacking, with world number 119 Olga Danilovic Serbia's top woman's pick and Hamad Medjedovic, who is still finding his feet on the ATP tour, their second choice men's talent.

Other potential contenders for the title include Greece, who were top seeds last year and who are second this year, with Stefanos Tsitsipas sixth in the men's rankings and Maria Sakkari ninth in the women's.

France, meanwhile, will feel they have a chance with Adrian Mannarino and Caroline Garcia flying their flag.

This article was written by a partner sports writer via Spotlight Sports Group. All odds displayed on this page were correct at the time of writing and are subject to withdrawal or change at any time.

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