The Aussie swing action isn’t slowing down, with vital matches left on Day 6 of the United Cup to decide the ties. Spain and Australia are locked in at 1-1, as are Greece and Belgium. As throughout the event, we will be offering up our predictions on the day’s play. So, who will earn the all-important victories for their nations?
United Cup Day 6 Predictions
Paula Badosa vs Zoe Hives
Head-to-head: First meeting
Badosa came through a pulsating clash with GB’s Harriet Dart to kick off 2023. Is this a sign of a more positive season? We know how well she can play when she’s going for her shots, but I was impressed with a use of the angles during the Dart match which helped turn things around. She’s still not at her best, but there are certainly signs that things are moving in the right direction.
Zoe Hives played some lovely tennis against Katie Swan, but unfortunately lacks the experience on a stage like this. Though Badosa is susceptible to big upsets, I can’t see her having too many problems in this one. Her power and free-flowing groundstrokes should be enough to seal a win for Team Spain.
Prediction: Badosa in 2
Pablo Carreno Busta vs Jason Kubler
Head-to-head: 1-0 Carreno Busta
The last time these two met was back in 2018 at the Australian Open, which Carreno Busta won in four. Both players have improved a huge amount since–Carreno Busta is a Masters champion and Kubler has enjoyed a well deserved breakthrough this past year. Carreno Busta was due to play against Dan Evans on Sunday, but withdrew beforehand, leaving us unsure how good his physical state is.
Kubler secured a remarkable against Evans and produced another wonderful performance. He’s clearly loving the team environment on his home soil, and he’s playing at a superb level. Given Carreno Busta’s withdrawal, it’s tough to know how ready he will be for this match. It’ll be tight, but I can see Kubler coming away with a win here.
Prediction: Kubler in 3
Michail Pervolarakis vs Zizou Bergs
Head-to-head: First meeting
There won’t be too much doubt about the favourite heading into this encounter, though it should be interesting. Despite Greece boasting the likes of Tsitsipas and Sakkari, the rest of their squad struggles immensely for depth of quality players. Pervolarakis was thrashed by Bulgaria’s Kuzmanov, and it’s hard to see this being a whole lot easier.
Bergs is a bright prospect on the ATP Tour, and he’ll be targeting a big breakthrough into the top 100 in 2023. However, he won only two games against Kuzmanov–the same number as Pervolarakis won. It’s surprising as Bergs’ game suits quicker courts, but it’s very possible this was just a poor start to the year. I can’t see him having a similar result here – and he should be too strong for the inexperienced Greek.
Prediction: Bergs in 2
Maria Sakkari vs Elise Mertens
Head-to-head: 5-4 Sakkari
One of the most exciting encounters on day 6. This will be their 10th overall meeting, though they only played twice in the last two seasons–where Sakkari has elevated her game a great deal. Sakkari is playing a vital role for Team Greece, and she’ll need to be at her best against Mertens, who is always a tricky customer in singles and one of the best doubles players in the world.
A lot has been made about the Greek’s ability to handle pressure, but it seems that she is turning a corner (slowly but surely.) It was a great end to the season for her and a win against a quality opponent would be a great way to kick off the new season. When Sakkari is playing at her attacking best, she can take down nearly anyone on tour with her fantastic ball-striking.
Mertens will likely cause plenty of problems and make this a very competitive affair, but I think Sakkari will come out on top here.
Prediction: Sakkari in 3
Main Photo from Getty.