Perth : Tsitsipas battles past Dimitrov. The Greek star gives country a 2-0 lead against Bulgaria in the inaugural United Cup.

Stefanos Tsitsipas fired his 12 ace on match point to give Greece a 2-0 lead over Bulgaria with a comeback win against Grigor Dimitrov on Thursday at the Inaugural United Cup.

The world number four recovered smoothly after losing the opening set to emerge with a 4-6,6-2,7-6 [7/4] victory in his season opening match at Perth ahead of the Australian Open.

Greek teammate Despina Papamichail, ranked 158th, gave her country the opening point as she defeated a cramping Isabella Shinikova, also finishing with a fightback to win 3-6, 6-4,6-1.

The mixed teams tournament features 18 countries playing in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth, with each tie consisting of two men's and two women's singles rubbers along with a mixed doubles.

Tsitsipas lifted in the final-set tiebreaker against an opponent he has now defeated in six of their seven matches.

''It was extremely close, but I'll take it,'' he said. '' It was a good effort from my side.

''It was tough playing in the heat   -I'm glad they closed the roof.I had to hang in there and fight, Grogor can compete with the best in the world.

''But I found a little gap and gave myself the chance to do something in the tie break.''

In Sydney, American world number nine Taylor Fritz and 11th-ranked Madison Keys cruised through their opening ties  against the Czech Republic to also get their seasons off to a winning start.

Fritz got his country away to a flyer with a 6-3,6-4 victory over world number 74 Jiri Lehecka at Ken Rosewall Arena before Keys saw off Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-3.

The 25-year-old Fritz had a breakthrough year in 2022, beating 22-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal in the final at Indian Wells to go with titles in Tokyo  and Eastbourne.

He burst into the top 10 in 2022, reaching a career-high eight in October.

Fritz had too much firepower for Lehecka, facing only two break points on his way to a comfortable 75-minute win.

The American admitted he had felt some nerves before the match.

''It was the first match of the season and also playing a team event as well adds to it [the nerves],'' he said. [AFP]


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