Hubert Hurkacz and Iga Swiatek led Poland to a 2-0 victory over China on Wednesday to reach the semifinals of the United Cup mixed team tournament. Poland, which lost to the United States in last year’s final four, had an advantage at the start of their quarterfinal tie in Perth as Hurkacz and Swiatek both won their singles matches in straight sets.
The top-seeded nation among the 18 that entered the $10 million event got off to a blazing start with big-hitting Hurkacz easing past Zhang Zhizhen 6-3 6-4, firing ten aces and holding in all of his service games. World No. 1 Swiatek followed that up by defeating Zheng Qinwen 6-2 6-3 in just over an hour and 34 minutes to put her side ahead with one match left on the card.
Swiatek is the projected pair for the Poles’ mixed doubles team in the Olympics next year, and they showed that chemistry on the court as they raced through their matches. The two combined for seven breaks of serve in the second set alone, and Swiatek, who had joked with the press before her match that she was teaching Hurkacz how not to play tiebreakers, didn’t disappoint as she cruised past the Chinese player.
With the victory, Poland will travel to Sydney and take on the winner of Saturday’s France vs. Norway quarterfinal. In Sydney, Adrian Mannarino and Caroline Garcia pushed France into the semifinals by beating Lorenzo Sonego and Jasmine Paolini in their Group D clash.
In the first half, Poland went up 3-0 as Grzegorz Lato scored twice and Andrzej Szarmach once. The lead was narrowed when Argentina got on the scoreboard as Ramon Heredia and Carlos Babington scored in the 60th and 66th minutes, respectively.
Despite their disappointing loss to the United States, Poland’s overall record in the competition is still impressive. They have won eight matches and have lost only three. They have qualified for the finals of this tournament twice before, in 1974 and 1996.
The current squad has a lot to live up to. It comprises mainly younger players, except Grzegorz Lato and Iga Swiatek. In the last four years, they have played eight World Cup qualifying matches and have won six of them.
Poland is now in the midst of a three-match playoff campaign for UEFA Euro 2020 that will also serve as their playoff campaign to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar. They have already won their first two matches against Latvia and North Macedonia.
A win against Serbia in their last qualifier would mean that the Poles have clinched a place in the top four of League A, which would ensure them a berth at the Euros and avoid relegation to League B. A draw against the Serbs, coupled with a Slovenian shock away loss to North Macedonia, would leave them needing to beat both the Czech Republic and Bosnia and Herzego in their final two matches to secure a top-four spot.