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Australia, Great Britain and US drawn together in blockbuster United Cup tennis group

Tournament director Stephen Farrow with former tennis players Casey Dellacqua, Wally Massur and Mark Philippoussis in Sydney at the draw for the United Cup.

Home nation Australia, Great Britain and defending champions the United States have caught the eye after being drawn together in the United Cup, the main Australian Open lead-in tournament starting at the end of December.

Serbia – led by world No 1 Novak Djokovic – were grouped with China and the Czech Republic in the second pool based in Perth, while women’s world No 2 Iga Swiatek, playing for Poland against Spain and another qualifier to be named next month, will also be in Perth.

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In Sydney, Greece’s Stefanos Tsitipas and Maria Sakkari – both top-10 ranked players – will meet Canada and a third qualifier in Group B. France, Italy, Germany are in the second Sydney-based group, while Croatia, Netherlands and Norway make up the third.

However, the focus of the discussion at the draw on Monday at Circular Quay in Sydney was Group C, and the grouping of the three English-speaking nations in Perth.

“It could be the end of a beautiful relationship,” former Australia Davis Cup captain Wally Masur said.

Australia have named world No 13 Alex de Minaur and Ajla Tomljanović in the team-based format. USA will be led by Taylor Fritz and Jessica Pegula – both in their respective top 10s – and Cameron Norrie, Dan Evans and Katie Boulter are listed to compete for Great Britain.

Each fixture in the coming tournament will have three rubbers – down from five at the last edition – comprising one men’s singles, one women’s singles and one mixed doubles match. Each will be completed in a session, guaranteeing a result for fans at the venue.

The format could see De Minaur play mixed doubles against Boulter. The pair have been in a relationship for more than two years.

“Alex might be in a situation where he plays three sets against Cam Norrie and maybe it’s not in his best interests to back up and play the mixed,” Masur said. “But him playing Boulter would add a bit of spice.”

Nine of the world’s top 20 men in singles and five of the world’s top 10 women in singles have been named to play in what will be the highest profile warm-up tournament before the Australian Open.The Melbourne grand slam starts qualifying on 11 January, with the main draw commencing three days later.

The group stages and quarter-finals will be split between Perth and Sydney, before the latter hosts the semifinals and final concluding on 7 January.

Queensland hosted part of the tournament last year, but will instead revert to its traditional tournament, the Brisbane International, starting on 31 December.

Adelaide, Hobart and Canberra are also hosting Australian Open warm-ups.

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