HomeTennisNetherlands defeat Norway in Sydney; Rus wins singles opener

Netherlands defeat Norway in Sydney; Rus wins singles opener

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Dutch doubles did the trick on Saturday for the Netherlands, which battled past Norway 2-1 in the first Sydney tie of the 2024 United Cup.

Arantxa Rus got the Netherlands off to a winning start in Sydney with a 7-6(4), 6-1 win over Malene Helgø to give her team a 1-0 lead in the first Group F tie of the United Cup. 

After Casper Ruud leveled for his country with a convincing singles win against Tallon Griekspoor, playing captain Wesley Koolhof and Demi Schuurs helped their country bounce back, defeating Ruud and Ulrikke Eikeri 7-6(5), 7-5 to clinch the Group F tie.

Norway had an opportunity to serve for the second set and force a pressure-filled Match Tie-Break. But the Dutch never panicked and after recovering the break they were down, Schuurs crushed a return at net-man Ruud to give her country the critical break.

Despite 478 places between the two in the WTA rankings, 24-year-old Helgø, who made her Hologic WTA Tour debut in this competition 12 months ago, pushed her higher-ranked opponent hard in a first set that lasted more than an hour. 

World No.51 Rus led 4-2 in the first, but lost the next three games, and twice served to stay in the first set. Both times, she rose to the challenge: Down 5-4, she held at love, and and down 6-5, she held to 15. She opened the ensuing tiebreak by winning four straight points — and though Helgø got to within one at 4-3 and 5-4 — Rus wrapped up a one-set lead on her first set point.

Set two was all Rus, who, after saving a break point at 1-1, broke Helgø after the Norwegian had three opportunities to hold for 2-2 and hardly looked back. The last game got complicated, though, as Rus needed a total of five match points to seal the opening win.

“I think it was a high level. We played both good tennis,” Rus said afterwards. “She plays very aggressive, good forehand. I think it was very important, the tiebreak, that I played every point. I kept fighting. I stayed in the match even if I didn’t play my best tennis.

“Then the second set I started to feel better and serving better, play more aggressive. So, yeah, I’m very happy with my first win here.”

In the following match, Ruud made a quick start to his season with his victory on Saturday. Ruud, the No. 11 player in the ATP Rankings and the highest-ranked player in Group F, converted three of his seven break points to clinch victory after 1 hour and 12 minutes.

This was the pair’s second clash at tour level after Ruud triumphed at Acapulco in 2021 in a final-set tie-break. Griekspoor had won their two matches below tour-level (in 2015 and 2019, respectively).

The next Group F match will be in Monday’s day session, when Norway tries to get back on track against Croatia. The Netherlands will play Croatia on Tuesday evening.

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