Updated1/6/2023 9:22:00 AM
All was well for Team United States on Friday in Sydney, where the Americans cruised to a 2-0 lead in the United Cup Final Four against Team Poland. It was impossible to tell that there was a controversy of sorts within the group on Thursday.
“We did another escape room. We did boys versus girls and girls won, so go girls,” Jessica Pegula said after her upset of Iga Swiatek. “But it was really fun. We’ve done a couple of them and I’m not sure, it was kind of like an anti-team building experience because we kind of all wanted to kill each other at the end, but hopefully it brings us together today.”
“[The] guys are so salty they lost. It's like, It's real,” Pegula said.
“Fritz is still pissed. I hope he loosens up for tomorrow,” Tiafoe responded, cracking a laugh. “It's just been great team energy. Jess hurt our team-building yesterday after that. Both the guys and girls getting pretty heated there at the end. No, I mean, it was great to do stuff like that, and obviously Jess is our captain, making us do team outings like that.”
“I didn't make anyone do anything. I just throw out feelers and see what everyone is feeling,” Pegula said.
“No, but it was great, honestly. Just, again, like seeing Jess play today inspired me a lot. Super happy for her,” Tiafoe said. “The reason why she won, I sent a great text to her last night before she went to sleep, and I think that really motivated her. And obviously our warmups. I think I'm going to be on her team after this week.”
“You're hired,” Team United States Captain David Witt, Pegula’s coach, said.
There's nothing like being inspired by your teammate 🇺🇸@FTiafoe 🤝 @JLPegula#UnitedCup pic.twitter.com/qqJBbE3cUj— United Cup (@UnitedCupTennis) January 6, 2023
Tiafoe joked that the Australian Open will be his last event because from then on he will be following Pegula around. Although he was kidding, the American wants to train with the WTA World No. 3 more often.
Pegula pulled out her phone to recall the text message Tiafoe sent her Thursday evening.
“Hey, Jess, go believe it tomorrow. I'd back you against anyone in the world. Let's do the damn thing. All love,” Tiafoe wrote.
“I was, like, are we warming up tomorrow, blah, blah, blah. All right. 12:50 walk on,” Pegula said before adding Tiafoe’s response. “We gonna hit.”
“My text language is terrible,” Tiafoe said, laughing again.
Team United States might have thought their team-building exercise had an adverse effect. But it is clear the Americans’ chemistry is strong as ever, and they need just one match win Saturday to reach the championship match at the United Cup.