SYDNEY — Jiri Lehecka scored a 6-4, 6-2 upset win over world No. 12 Alexander Zverev to help give the Czech Republic a 2-0 lead over Germany at the United Cup.
The 21-year-old Lehecka, ranked No. 81, broke four times in the Group C match at Ken Rosewall Arena in Sydney to bounce back from an opening singles loss to Taylor Fritz of the United States.
Marie Bouzkova later beat Jule Niemeier 6-2, 7-5 in the second match to give the Czechs a 2-0 lead. Czech women’s No. 1 Petra Kvitova can clinch the tie when she faces Laura Siegemund.
Zverev was competing for the first time since June when he tore three ligaments in his right ankle during his Roland Garros semifinal match against Rafael Nadal.
“I knew before the match that he hadn’t played in a while but with a player like him that can mean nothing,” Lehecka said. “In the crucial moments I showed all the experience from the last year playing against good players.”
In other matches, Brazil took a 2-0 lead over Norway at Brisbane.
World 15th-ranked Beatriz Haddad Maia improved her tournament record to 2-0 after defeating Malene Helgo of Norway 6-4, 6-2. Felipe Meligeni Alves gave Brazil its second win of the day when he beat Viktor Durasovic 6-3, 6-3.
“I was trying to be as aggressive as I could,” Haddad Maia said. “I was happy that I was patient and giving myself chances . . . even if I was missing. I was happy with the way I was thinking in this match.”
Nadal was scheduled to play Cameron Norrie in singles when Spain took on Britain later at Sydney.
Two singles matches – one men’s and one women’s – are played over each of two days, with a mixed doubles to conclude the five-match encounter on the second day.
The inaugural United Cup has teams from 18 countries competing in Brisbane, Perth and Sydney through to Jan. 4. The three city champions and the next-best performing country from the group stage will meet at Ken Rosewall Arena from Jan. 6 to 8 to determine the overall winner.
After matches completed, top-ranked Greece leads Group A with a 4-1 record, Switzerland heads Group B (5-0), the U.S. is first in Group C (4-1), Britain (3-2) tops Group D, Italy is in first place in Group E with a 3-2 record and France (5-0) leads Group F.