The newly minted United Cup is here to kick off the 2023 tennis season as 18 countries have gathered in various Australian cities to compete for their flag. This will be the event’s first edition as it replaces the ATP Cup (2020-2022). Day 1 of the 2023 United Cup features significant ties, including battles between Argentina and France, and Bulgaria and Greece. As always, we at LWOT will have the preview and predictions for those matches and all other happenings in the United Cup. We split them between two other articles––one featuring Alex de Minuar vs Cameron Norrie and the other featuring Stan Wawrinka vs Alexander Bublik.
United Cup Day 1 Predictions
Argentina vs France
Maria Carle vs Alize Cornet
Head-to-Head: first meeting
Veteran Alize Cornet will take on young Argentine Maria Carle on the opening day of the 2023 United Cup. Cornet had an up-and-down 2022 season that saw her reach one final while holding a 16-15 record on hard courts. The 22-year-old Carle played in just seven WTA matches last season, doing most of her work on the ITF circuit. The current World No. 147 gets an early season test to see how close she is to competing fully at the tour level. Carle has won 72.2% of her hard-court matches at the ITF level but will be up against it versus Cornet. I like the veteran Frenchwoman to finish this match in a tight two sets.
Prediction: Cornet in 2
Francisco Cerundolo vs Arthur Rinderknech
Head-to-Head: Rinderknech 1-0 Cerundolo
Arthur Rinderknech and Francisco Cerundolo are set two square off in Perth, representing their respective countries in the United Cup. These two have met one time previously, with the Frenchman ousting the Argentine 1-6 6-3 6-2 in March of this year. Cerundolo’s best result of the 2022 season was a run to the Miami Masters semifinals. That said, he was just 3-11 in his other 14 hard-court matches last season. His inconsistency on this surface should be a cause for concern against Rinderknech. The 27-year-old Frenchman finished his season winning seven of his last ten matches, including wins over Pablo Carreno Busta and Marin Cilic. He has become much more solid from the baseline, which pairs nicely with his game which features a lot of variety. Despite being ranked 14 spots lower than Cerundolo, I think Rinderknech gets the better of him in Perth.
Prediction: Rinderknech in 3
Bulgaria vs Greece
Isabella Shinikova vs Despina Papamichail
Head-to-Head: Papamichail 1-0 Shinikova
Isabella Shinikova and Despina Papamichail are set to square off in Perth during Day 1 of the 2023 United Cup. These two are relatively similar players, with neither having reached a world ranking since the top 130. Both players are looking to bounce back from the 2022 season, where they lost more matches than they won. Papamichail did get the better of Shinikova in their only career meeting just over two months ago in Monastir, 3-6 6-3 7-6(3). Given the three-set battle we saw between them in Monastir, I expect a similarly close match in Perth. I give a slight edge to Shinikova, who finished the 2022 season in better form than her opponent.
Prediction: Shinikova in 3
Grigor Dimitrov vs Stefanos Tsitsipas
Head-to-Head: Tsistipas 5-1 Dimitrov
World No. 4 Stefanos Tsistipas will take on No. 28 Grigor Dimitrov for the seventh time in one of the marquee matches of the day. Tistipas leads the head-to-head 5-1 and has won the last four meetings (three in straight sets). The Greek had a much stronger close to the season than his counterpart, reaching finals in Astana and Stockholm in October and the Paris Masters semifinal in November. Dimitrov has struggled with the backhand of Stef in the past, something to look for as the Greek looks to open up that shot down the line. I believe Tsitispas is poised for a great season in 2023 and will start on the right foot in Perth.
Prediction: Tsistipas in 2
Main Photo from Getty.