The final round of the group stage of the United Cup begins on Day 5, deciding who will advance to the City Finals of the inaugural edition. France produced an impressive display in their opening match against Argentina while USA are considered favorites to win it all. As always, we here at LWOT will preview and predict every match. We split the rest of the day’s matches between two articles. One features Rafael Nadal vs Alex De Minaur and the other features Stefanos Tsitsipas vs David Goffin. Who do you think will win?
United Cup Day 5 Predictions
Alize Cornet vs Donna Vekic
Head-to-head: Cornet 1-1 Vekic
Last year’s Australian Open quarterfinalist Cornet got off to a strong start in 2023 too, dropping just three games to Maria Carle. The Frenchwoman had one of the best seasons of her career in 2022 despite a 27-25 overall record. Cornet did not always have consistency throughout but put together very good runs such as in Melbourne, Wimbledon fourth round, or the Monastir final.
Vekic also began her United Cup with a convincing win over Carle but had a much tougher time last season. The Croat did not get a main tour win until May but ended 2022 with a very strong run to the San Diego final, including wins over Maria Sakkari and Aryna Sabalenka. The two have faced off twice before, Cornet winning in Monterrey in 2017 and Vekic at the 2020 Australian Open. It’s a tough one to call but I will lean toward Cornet here.
Prediction: Cornet in 3
Arthur Rinderknech vs Borna Coric
Head-to-head: first meeting
Rinderknech broke through to the Top 50 last season, advancing to the main tour level at 27 years old. The Frenchman has a good amount of points to defend in Australia as he reached the final of Adelaide 2 last year. Both Rinderknech and Coric started their 2023 with a straight-set win over Francisco Cerundolo, who they are both superior to on hard courts.
Unlike Rinderknech, Coric has no pressure on him to start the year as the Croat did not begin his season in 2022 until Indian Wells. In fact, Coric’s 2022 comeback didn’t really take off until a Challenger 125 title in Parma, which was in June. This means that the entire first half of the season will be a free hit for the World No. 26 and a big opportunity for him to rise up the rankings until he has to defend his Cincinnati title. The two have never faced each other before but Rinderknech’s offense versus Coric’s counterpunching should make for an entertaining watch with the Croat a more likely winner.
Prediction: Coric in 2
Madison Keys vs Jule Niemeier
Head-to-head: first meeting
Keys played the best tennis of her season in Australia last year, going 11-2 down under while reaching the semifinals in Melbourne and winning a title in Adelaide. The World No. 11 opened her 2023 season against Marie Bouzkova, going down early breaks in both sets but winning in straights. Niemeier had a breakout season in 2022, reaching the Wimbledon quarterfinals, US Open fourth round, and winning a WTA 125 in Makarska. If both are on their game, this could be an exciting showdown but Niemeier did not look her best against Bouzkova in her opener. Keys is the better player at the moment and should be winning this match.
Prediction: Keys in 2
Taylor Fritz vs Alexander Zverev
Head-to-head: Zverev 4-2 Fritz
One of the biggest matches of the day in terms of star power, Zverev has a lot to improve based on his season opener. The German played his first match since the French Open after six months out due to an ankle injury and subsequent bone edema, losing to Jiri Lehecka in straight sets and looking way off the pace. Fritz started his 2023 with a win over the young Czech, looking to follow up on a season that saw him break the Top 10. The 25-year-old is one of the most interesting players coming into the season after a breakout year in which Fritz won Indian Wells, Tokyo, and Eastbourne and came very close to defeating Rafael Nadal in a Wimbledon quarterfinal. This is a big year for the American and he should be in the wider pool of favorites for the Australian Open title. The same cannot be said for Zverev at the moment until we saw a markedly improved performance.
Prediction: Fritz in 2
Main Photo from Getty.