Hubert Hurkacz
Hubert Hurkacz

Tennis betting tips: United Cup preview and best bets

The 2024 tennis campaign gets under way on Friday and our Andy Schooler has delivered his verdict on the season-opening United Cup team event.

Tennis betting tips: United Cup

2pts e.w. Poland to win the tournament at 6/1 (General)

2pts Netherlands to win Group F at 6/4 (Coral, Ladbrokes)

1pt Italy to win Group D at 15/8 (General)

Sky Bet odds | Paddy Power | Betfair Sportsbook

United Cup

  • Sydney and Perth, Australia (outdoor hard)

The new tennis season gets under way in Perth, Australia, on Friday - that’s December 29 if you’ve lost track – with the United Cup mixed team event.

This column certainly enjoyed the final few months of the 2023 season and it’s also worth remembering we had the winner of this tournament last January when USA emerged triumphant at 7/2.

However, punters should note that the format has changed considerably since then with the event scaled down for its second edition.

It’s now more like a mixed Davis Cup or Billie Jean King Cup with each tie decided by two singles rubbers (the order in which these take place will differ from tie to tie) and one potentially-decisive mixed doubles, which will always be staged last.

Last season, there were four singles rubbers per tie and one doubles which meant good strength in depth on both the men’s and women’s side was a huge advantage over a team featuring just a couple of star names and not much else.

This new format would appear to increase the chances of an upset with one shock result capable of affecting the outcome of a tie much more.

Still, there’s little doubt that a team featuring a sole star, such as Norway with Casper Ruud, faces a huge task of claiming the trophy and that having top-class players available for each tie – think top-10 singles players and a strong doubles partnership – is likely to be required for glory.

As for venues, we’ve lost Brisbane – the Queensland city will stage a regular ATP event that I’ll preview over the weekend – so the action this season will take place in Perth and Sydney.

Perth’s RAC Arena is set to have the roof open this year (it was closed last time), while in Sydney, the Ken Rosewall Arena has a suspended roof which allows air to flow in and means it’s kind of a half indoor, half outdoor court.


In terms of reaching the final, it’s still largely the same route.

There are six groups of three – three being staged in each city – with the winners progressing to the quarter-finals. The best runner-up in each city will also make the last eight.

Both semi-finals and the final will be held in Sydney (the latter takes place on January 7) with the players starting in Perth given two days off between their QF and SF ties in order to travel and adapt.

Hopefully, that’s the important info you need. Now to look at the 18 teams (player rankings are shown in brackets; all are singles unless indicated by an asterisk):

GROUP A (Perth)


Men – Hubert Hurkacz (9), Daniel Michalski (275), Jan Zielinski (20*)
Women – Iga Swiatek (1), Katarzyna Kawa (197), Katarzyna Piter (67*)

One of only three teams with top-10 players in both singles categories, Poland look strong. Swiatek showed at the end of last season that she remains very much the best player in the world, while Hurkacz also finished 2023 in fine form. While the doubles options don’t look that great – perhaps Swiatek and Hurkacz will pair up – the strength of the singles duo may be enough to carry Poland all the way.


Men – Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (26), Roberto Carballes Baena (63), David Vega Hernadez (121*)
Women – Sara Sorribes Tormo (48), Marina Bassols Ribera (109), Rosa Vicens Mas (297)

Spain will likely need Fokina to beat Hurkacz when they meet to stand a chance of making the last eight. Sorribes Tormo looks a pretty weak women’s singles pick and it’s hard to see Spain progressing beyond the group stage.


Men – Thiago Seyboth Wild (79), Fernando Meligeni Alves (148), Marcelo Melo (47*)
Women – Beatriz Haddad Maia (11), Carolina Alves (304)

Haddad Maia is a good singles player for Brazil and she’ll take heart from having won her only previous hardcourt match against Swiatek. Seyboth Wild is also capable of turning it on, while Melo is a name in doubles although the former world no 1 is past his best. Not without a chance in the group but it would still be a shock were they to deny the Poles.

GROUP B (Sydney)


Men – Stefanos Tsitsipas (6), Stefanos Sakellaridis (416), Petros Tsitsipas (97*)
Women – Maria Sakkari (9), Despina Papamichail (222), Valentini Grammatikopoulou (115*)

Seeded second thanks to the presence of Tsitsipas and Sakkari, both top-10 regulars on their respective tours. However, neither truly sparkled in 2023 and they will need to find something like their best level to deliver the trophy to Greece. Still, after pre-season work, there’s every chance that could happen. Certainly a threat to the other big guns although, again, the leading duo may be required for doubles duty at times.

Stefanos Tsitsipas
Stefanos Tsitsipas


Men – Felix Auger-Aliassime (29), Steven Diez (314), Adil Shamasdin (200*P)
Women – Leylah Fernandez (35), Stacey Fung (238)

FAA will be hoping to kick-off 2024 playing a lot better than he did in most of 2023. However, he did win a title in Basel towards the end of the season and has decent support on the ladies’ side from former US Open finalist Fernandez. If they click – and they will probably need to in doubles too – Canada may progress to the knockout stage but it’s hard to see them going all the way.


Men – Nicolas Jarry (19), Tomas Barrios Vera (103), Gonzalo Lama (518)
Women – Daniela Seguel (668), Fernanda Labrana (794)

Qualified thanks to Jarry’s top-20 ranking but even if he has a good week and picks up singles wins, it’s hard to see where other points are coming from. The women’s side is particularly weak so Jarry will likely need to win singles and doubles time and again for them to go deep. It’s not going to happen.

GROUP C (Perth)


Men – Taylor Fritz (10), Denis Kudla (163), Rajeev Ram (6*)
Women – Jessica Pegula (5), Alycia Parks (85), Desirae Krawczyk (16*)

The defending champions look strong, with two top-10 singles stars and two top-20 doubles players on their roster, although this year their depth means less than it did 12 months ago. One concern would be how Fritz finished 2023 – rather disappointingly – while Pegula was destroyed by Swiatek in her final match of the year. Scars will likely remain if they meet again. Ram and Krawczyk may be the best doubles team (both have won Grand Slams in mixed) and will be able to give the singles players a rest. Not hard to see why they are favourites.

Great Britain

Men – Cameron Norrie (18), Dan Evans (38), Neal Skupski (9*)
Women – Katie Boulter (56), Fran Jones (296), Maia Lumsden (73*)

Norrie and Evans are both capable of winning singles matches, while Skupski is a top doubles man – the reigning Wimbledon and ATP Finals champion. However, the options on the women’s side look much weaker and that will undermine GB’s chances. In a tough group, they look like they need more.

Cameron Norrie into the second round
Cameron Norrie


Men – Alex de Minaur (12), John Millman (483), Matt Ebden (4*)
Women – Ajla Tomljanovic (290), Storm Hunter (171), Ellen Perez (17*)

Home advantage will help singles picks De Minaur and Tomljanovic, the latter playing on a protected ranking after returning from a long-term injury in August. The doubles team is also a fine one – Ebden and Perez played together at Wimbledon last season and the former has won Slams in the past. However, the presence of USA in this strong pool means it may not be enough.

GROUP D (Sydney)


Men – Adrian Mannarino (22), Antoine Escoffier (159), Edouard Roger-Vasselin (11*)
Women – Caroline Garcia (20), Amandine Hesse (313), Elixane Lechemia (99*)

The highest seeds in this group but they look vulnerable. Garcia struggled for much of 2023 and will need better form here for France to challenge. Mannarino is solid but lacking star quality which may well be required in the latter stages.


Men – Lorenzo Sonego (46), Flavio Cobolli (101), Andrea Pellegrino (82*)
Women – Jasmine Paolini (30), Nuria Brancaccio (206), Angelica Moratelli (83*)

Paolini has been a real star in the Billie Jean King Cup in the past couple of years and she’s a player who really steps up when in national-team colours. She won 10 of her last 13 matches of 2023, two of them coming against France’s Garcia, who she is set to meet again at this event. Sonego is capable of picking up some good wins – he beat Andrey Rublev and Frances Tiafoe last term – so Italy have a bit of potential.


Men – Alex Zverev (7), Max Marterer (91), Kai Wehnelt (150*)
Women – Angie Kerber (31P), Tatjana Maria (54), Laura Siegemund (5*)

Given his ranking, Zverev will be expected to lead Germany towards the knockout stage but he’ll need support from the female side of the team. It’s hard to know how Angie Kerber will perform – she last played at Wimbledon 2022 and has since given birth. At least Siegemund is a strong doubles player, who won November’s WTA Finals. To me, there look too many chinks in the German armour.

GROUP E (Perth)

Czech Republic

Men – Jiri Lehecka (31), Vit Kopriva (132), Petr Nouza (101*)
Women – Marketa Vondrousova (7), Sara Bejlek (129), Miriam Kolodziejova (58*)

Wimbledon champion Vondrousova will be the go-to player for the Czechs, who will also hope rising star Lehecka can deliver points. That’s far from out of the question although his problem will be facing world no 1 Djokovic in the group. The two singles stars could take this team a long way but they will probably need doubles points too at some stage which may prove problematic.

Marketa Vondrousova
Marketa Vondrousova


Men – Zhizhen Zhang (58), Yunchaokete Bu (171), Fajing Sun (206*)
Women – Qinwen Zheng (15), Xiaodi You (227)

Qinwen is a player I’m expecting more from in 2024 – see my Grand Slam ante-post preview – and she may well win all her singles matches at the United Cup. However, while Zhizhen is an improving player on the men’s side, he’s unlikely to be good enough to be picking up wins consistently against his foes here. The duo will likely need to click as a doubles pair if China are to challenge.


Men – Novak Djokovic (1), Hamad Medjedovic (113), Nikola Cacic (70*)
Women – Olga Danilovic (119), Natalija Stevanovic (180), Dejana Radanovic (256)

Serbia have the world’s best male player, who loves Australia and will prove extremely difficult to beat. However, with no top-100 WTA player on the team, Serbia need Djokovic to deliver two points per tie and, lacking support in doubles, that could well prove beyond even him.

GROUP F (Sydney)


Men – Borna Coric (37), Nino Serdarusic (318), Ivan Dodig (2*)
Women – Donna Vekic (23), Petra Marcinko (173), Tena Lukas (228)

If the hit-and-miss Coric has one of his good weeks, Croatia may make a few waves. He has decent support from Vekic in singles, while Ivan Dodig’s doubles excellence means Coric will be able to focus solely on his primary format. I remain to be convinced that will be enough though with Croatia far from guaranteed to even make it out of this group.


Men – Tallon Griekspoor (23), Thiemo De Bakker (689), Wesley Koolhof (8*)
Women – Arantxa Rus (51), Arianne Hartono (152), Demi Schuurs (19*)

Griekspoor has performed well in the Dutch Davis Cup team in the past, while the Netherlands have one of the best doubles teams at the event in Koolhof and Schuurs, who have made a Grand Slam semi-final together before. Rus is potentially the weak link here but the Dutch have a decent chance of getting out of this group.


Men – Casper Ruud (11), Andreja Petrovic (1674)
Women – Malene Helgo (539), Ulrikke Eikeri (604)

As mentioned earlier, Norway look the ultimate ‘one-player team’ with Ruud the only one worthy of his place in this field. The others are literally making up the numbers and it’s hard to see how Norway will win two points in a tie. Likely to finish bottom of the pool.

Casper Ruud
Casper Ruud


My view is that the top two in the market, USA and POLAND, are there for good reason and they look the teams to beat.

However, before finalising outright selections, it’s worth noting the knockout stage draw, the bracket for which is already known and is as follows:

  • Winner D v Winner F
  • Winner A v Best Perth RU
  • Winner B v Best Sydney RU
  • Winner C v Winner E

My take from this is that the draw favours the Poles a lot more than the Americans.

As long as they top Group A, the Poles will face a team who has already lost a tie in the quarter-finals before meeting the winner of either Group D or F, neither of which looks the strongest pool.

In contrast, the USA (assuming they win Group C) may well have to face Novak Djokovic’s Serbia in the last eight before then playing Greece in the semis.

That looks a much tougher path to the final and therefore the Poles look the best bet for me.

Swiatek will likely take a lot of beating, while conditions should also suit the big-serving Hurkacz, who really shone in the final months of 2023.

Iga Swiatek is a strong favourite in the women's draw
Iga Swiatek of Poland

At 6/1, they are even a potential each-way bet, albeit it’s just a third of the odds for a final spot.

I did consider backing a team at longer odds with that each-way element in mind but preference instead is to get involved with the group markets.

NETHERLANDS look to have been underestimated in Group F, one which looks a two-horse race given the weakness of the Norwegian team.

A strong mixed-doubles pairing could make all the difference for the Dutch when they meet Croatia and I think they are worth backing at 6/4.

I’m also prepared to take a chance on ITALY in what looks an open Group D.

Paolini is a player I was keen to get with in some shape or form in the season-long markets and while I didn’t find an angle with which to do that, her impressive displays for the Italian BJK Cup team make her of interest in this event.

Sonego will need to provide back up but he’s capable of doing that, especially if the courts play fairly quick, as they usually do in the Australian heat.

A small bet at 15/8 about them topping the pool is in order.

Posted at 1035 GMT on 28/11/23

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