A salvo of late-night text messages cheered on Team USA’s Jessica Pegula and Frances Tiafoe in the United Cup

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“It’s weird. Yeah, crazy. I don’t know if you guys saw the day it happened, the Sabers [National Hockey League team also owned by the Pegula family and based in Buffalo] had a game that night and someone scored a hat trick, their third hat trick of the season. It was like all those crazy stats. Sometimes the world is just so weird.”

Of Hamlin, Pegula said: “It’s incredible [that he’s responsive]. Obviously the medical staff and everyone on the field did a great job. You’re almost anticipating what looks hopeful for a neurological recovery, which is incredible considering what we’ve all been thinking about beforehand. So definitely good news when I woke up this morning. It was nice to see that. He is doing better. He still has a long way to go, of course, but hearing that was just amazing.”

“Perfect Practice” forms like a hit

At the Australian Open, fans can watch organized training sessions between star players – dubbed ‘perfect training’ – during next week’s qualifying tournament as part of a new revenue stream for the tight-budget event hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are talking to the Australian Open about doing something in a week before the tournament starts,” said Novak Djokovic.

“Yes, I chatted with Nick [Kyrgios]and I would like to play with him and he agreed but he wants shorter sentences.

Nick Kyrgios and Novak Djokovic are keen to play an organized training session ahead of the Australian Open.

Nick Kyrgios and Novak Djokovic are keen to play an organized training session ahead of the Australian Open.Credit:Getty

“Let’s see if it works. I feel like most of us need games and practice games and as many points as we can play ahead of the Australian Open.”

Kyrgios is considering the possibility of joining a stellar field of Kooyong Classic including world No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz, Alex de Minaur, Taylor Fritz and Andy Murray.

Jabeur joins Osaka and Kyrgios

The breakaway talent agency founded by Naomi Osaka and Kyrgios’ American agent Stuart Duguid has signed its latest tennis star.

Kyrgios and Osaka are the agency’s two stars, but now world No. 2 Ons Jabeur has signed to Los Angeles-based Evolve, which formed just last year.

Duguid co-owns the Miami Pickleball Club that Kyrgios and Osaka invested in a few weeks ago.

Hunter doubled

Australia's Storm Hunter crashed into the top-10 in doubles last year.

Australia’s Storm Hunter crashed into the top-10 in doubles last year.Credit:Getty

Storm Hunter (née Sanders) will forever be the last player to win a doubles title with Ash Barty, but can now also boast a new claim to fame.

The 28-year-old left-hander crashed into the top-10 in doubles last year before starring in Australia and reaching the final of the Billie Jean King Cup.

Hunter, who married her longtime partner Loughlin in November, is set to play in Adelaide this week with doubles world No. 1 star Katerina Siniakova.

Siniakova and her Czech compatriot Barbora Krejcikova are the world’s best doubles couple and have won all Grand Slam titles, Olympic gold and the Billie Jean King Cup.

But Hunter noted that Krejcikova was only playing in Adelaide next week and was pleasantly surprised when Siniakova agreed to play.

The story gets even better because Siniakova isn’t playing next week, but Krejcikova is – and this time it was the Czech who approached Hunter to play.

Hunter was available because she received an Australian Open singles wildcard, so she doesn’t need to qualify.

Wild cards in the Open

John Millman and Jaimee Fourlis have received the final two Australian wildcards of this month’s inaugural Grand Slam of the season.

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The duo received main draw wildcards, increasing Australia’s representation in the main draw of the Australian Open to 14 contenders in the men’s and women’s singles events.

Millman, a Tour veteran and fan favorite aged 33, will compete in his sixth straight Australian Open despite slipping to 147 in the world rankings.

He received the wildcard over 26-year-old Aleksandar Vukic and Tennis Australia officials opted to reward Millman for years of impeccable service.

The other Australian main draw wildcards went to Alexei Popyrin, Jason Kubler, Rinky Hijikata, Storm Hunter, Talia Gibson and Olivia Gadecki.

Watch the United Cup live and free on 9Network – Channel 9 and 9Gem. Every game is broadcast live 9Now.

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https://www.smh.com.au/sport/tennis/let-s-do-the-damn-thing-volley-of-late-night-texts-fires-up-team-usa-20230106-p5catj.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_sport A salvo of late-night text messages cheered on Team USA’s Jessica Pegula and Frances Tiafoe in the United Cup

Ryan Sederquist

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