SYDNEY: Jessica Pegula, Frances Tiafoe and Taylor Fritz captured the inaugural United Cup title for the USA after beating Italy 3-0 in the final here on Sunday.
Fritz clinched the title for his country with a 7-6(4), 7-6 win over Matteo Berrettini in a nail-biting duel between two of the biggest hitters on the ATP Tour to give the USA an unassailable 3-0 lead over Italy.
"It's great. It's amazing for the team to win this event. We came in with really high hopes, or at least I did, for the event. I was really happy to be in that position to clinch the match," Fritz said after the win.
"Just the emotions when you win and everyone comes running at you, it's amazing," Fritz said. "I don't know if you saw the replay but Frances basically headbutted me!"
Pegula and Tiafoe each earned a point for the Americans earlier in the day with defeats of Martina Trevisan and Lorenzo Musetti respectively.
Pegula gave her country a good start with a 6-4, 6-2 victory against Trevisan. Tiafoe then surged through the first set against Musetti when the Italian retired trailing 6-2 due to a right shoulder injury.
The first rubber was far from straightforward for the World No.3. as Trevisan came out firing with an aggressive strategy, and remained committed to front-foot tennis throughout.
Pegula found herself forced onto the back foot. Though she led 3-0 and then 4-2 in the first set, Trevisan managed to level at 4-4 after coming up with a series of fizzing forehands.
Surprisingly, the set turned on a rare shot that Trevisan backed off. Serving at 4-5, 30-30, a tentative drive volley allowed Pegula to crunch a forehand of her own to reach set point. The American promptly converted it with a superb backhand winner down the line.
Pegula settled in the second set, reducing her unforced error tally from 17 to seven. Trevisan's do-or-die approach ultimately didn't pay off as she racked up 31 unforced errors against 14 winners.
Tiafoe picked up where Pegula left off, breaking Musetti's serve early and cruising through the opener 6-2, saving all three break points he faced. The Italian increasingly touched his right shoulder as the set wore on before receiving treatment from a physio during a changeover. At the end of the set, Musetti shook hands with Tiafoe and retired.
Then, reigning Indian Wells champion Fritz triumphed over Berrettini in 2 hours and 16 minutes.
Berrettini saved the first championship point he faced in the second-set tiebreak by crushing a forehand winner. But after switching sides, Fritz won a gruelling rally to claim what proved to be the deciding mini-break when the Italian missed a forehand on the full stretch.
The USA produced a dominant performance throughout the United Cup, dropping just two individual matches. None of their ties were closer than 4-1.