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Davis Cup semifinals preview

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TENNIS DAVIS CUP – Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka lead host team Switzerland against Italy at the Palaexpo in Geneva where no less than 18500 spectators are expected. France hosts defending champions from Czech Republic on the famous clay court of the Roland Garros in Paris. Diego Sampaolo

 

Federer: “I am not surprised, but I would have expected Andreas (Seppi) to play” (English)

Federer: “It’s good to play first. Gives you more time to recover” (French)

Wawrinka: “I will never be as emotional as I was before the final in Australia” (French)

Barazzutti “Bolelli has played well at Flushing Meadows. Thats why I chose him to start against Federer” (Italian)

The Swiss team led by World Number 2 Roger Federer and Number 4 Stan Wawrinka start as the clear favourite against Italy which features Fabio Fognini, Simone Bolelli and Andreas Seppi.

Italy leads 3-2 in their five previous head-to-head matches. Italy beat Switzerland 3-2 in 1932, 5-0 in 1934 and 5-0 in 1980 but Switzerland won their last two matches (3-2 in 1999 and 3-2 in the Playoff in 2009).

Switzerland will play the third Davis Cup semifinal. The red-crossed team will be bidding to reach their first final since 1992 when a Swiss squad led by Marc Rosset and Jakob Hlasek lost 1-3 against the USA led by André Agassi Jim Courier, Pete Sampras and John McEnroe in Fort Worth. The Swiss team reached the second semifinal in 2003 when they lost against Australia. In that Davis Cup match Federer led 2-0 on sets and was 5-3 up in the third set but Lleyton Hewitt recovered to win the match.

Seventeen-time Grand Slam champion Federer and this year’s Australian Open champion Wawrinka will be looking to qualify Switzerland for the second final in Davis Cup history.

It looks the right year for Switzerland to clinch the first Davis Cup in history. It’s one of the few titles missing from the trophy cabinet of Federer.

“As a team we haven’t had much success over the past 50 years, so people in Switzerland still talk about 20 years ago when we made the final. Hopefully, they will talk about this tie in 20 years. That would be wonderful”, said Federer

Federer enjoyed a good summer in which he played one of the best matches of the year at the Wimbledon final against Novak Djokovic before reaching the final in Toronto and winning his third title of the season in Cincinnati. At the US Open he lost the semifinal against Marin Cilic who went on to lift his first Grand Slam title at Flushing Meadows.

Wawrinka won the Australian Open and the Monte-Carlo Master 1000 this year but had ups and downs in the quarter final match against Kazakhstan where he lost against Golubev. Wawrinka won 19 out of 32 singles matches in the Davis Cup.

The match between the two neighbouring countries is expected to be held in front of 15000 enthusiastic spectators. No less than 3000 spectators attended the training session of the Swiss team on Wednesday.

Following Thursday’s draw Federer will play the first match against Simone Bolelli, who reached the third round at Wimbledon and the second round at the US Open and is enjoying a good period of form. At the recent US Open Bolelli lost a five-set thriller against Tommy Robredo where he played a remarkable match

Federer will team up with Wawrinka against Seppi and Paolo Lorenzi in Saturday’s double match but the teams are subject to changes. Federer will take on Fognini and Wawrinka will play against Bolelli in Sunday’s reverse matches

Italian captain Corrado Barazzuti, who won the Davis Cup against Chile in 1976 and was part of the Italian team who beat Switzerland 5-0 in 1980, opted for Bolelli instead of Andreas Seppi as the second singles player.

Wawrinka will play against Italian Davis Cup star Fabio Fognini in the second singles match. Fognini, who reached the Cincinnati quarter final recently, was the Italian hero in the previous two Davis Cup rounds against Argentina and Great Britain. Italy has not reached the Davis Cup final since 1998 when they lost against Sweden in Milan.

Geneva hosted a Davis Cup semifinal back in 1992 when Switzerland led by Marc Rosset beat Brazil 5-0

France vs Czech Republic

The Roland Garros Phillippe Chatrier court will play host the semifinal between two traditional Davis Cup teams France and defending champions from Czech Republic, who won the last two editions of this event and are bidding to qualify for their third consecutive final The Czech team are bidding to win their 12th consecutive Davis Cup match.

French captain Arnaud Clement picked a strong team featuring Jo Wilfred Tsonga, Richard Gasquet, Gael Monfils and Julien Benneteau. The French team will be bidding to reach their first final since 2010. They won 9 Davis Cup titles and are the only team together with the USA able to win on all surfaces on grass, on clay, hard court and indoor.

France plays the third consecutive match at home and won seven of the last eight matches on home soil.

Czech Republic will rely on the experience of two true Davis Cup men Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek plus Lukas Rosol and young rising star Jiri Vesely.

Gasquet and Berdych will play the first match on Friday. The Frenchman leads 5-3 in their head-to-head matches but they tie 1-1 on clay. They have registered three wins apiece since the 2011 Australian Open. The Frenchman won their last match in Miami 2013 with a double 6-3 but they will meet for the first time in the Davis Cup.

Berdych lost in the quarter final against Marin Cilic at the US Open last week but boasts an impressive record in the Davis Cup.

The Philippe Chatrier will have a different look to the traditional set-up during the Roland Garros. The passionate support from the fans will contribute to make the atmosphere inside the famous tennis fans more electric in the pure spirit of the Davis Cup.

“A few things are different being here at this time but they remind you of all these situations that you go through at the Roland Garros. It’s a beautiful experience and we can enjoy the whole set-up we have here. The venue is great for that. Everything is close and very convenient. It is definitely the best place I have ever played away from home”, said Berdych

Jo Wilfred Tsonga, this year’s Toronto champion, will take on Lukas Rosol in the second Friday’s match. The Frenchman won their only match at Dubai in 2012 with 6-3 6-4.

“It’s very special playing at the Roland Garros. I have had so many good memories in Roland Garros non only as a player but also as a young kid. It’s going to be very important to play well here because I would like to have more good moments here”, said Tsonga.

Czech captain Jaroslav Navratil picked Stepanek and Vesely for the doubles match against Monfils (US Open quarter finalist last week) and Benneteau for the doubles match but the teams could be subject to changes. Berdych will take on Tsonga and Rosol will play against Gasquet in Sunday’s reverse matches.

Play-offs: The expected highlights:

Sixteen nations are bidding to secure their spot in the 2015 World Group. A Serbian team without Novak Djokovic will try to avoid relegation into zonal group matches against India in Bangalore The Serbian team will be made up of Nenad Zimonjic, Dusan Lajovic, Filip Krajnovic

A Spanish team formed by Marcel Granollers, Roberto Bautista Agut and doubles specialists Marc Lopez and David Marrero will face Brazil in Sao Paulo.

US Open champion Marin Cilic, who beat Japanese Kei Nishikori at Flushing Meadows on Monday becoming the first Croatian player to claim a Grand Slam crown since his coach Goran Ivanisevic’s triumph at Wimbledon, and rising star Borna Coric will lead Croatia against the Netherlands. US Open doubles champions Mike and Bob Bryan, John Isner and Sam Querrey will host Slovakia in Chicago.

Teenager Nick Kyrgios, this year’s Wimbledon quarter finalist, and 33-year-old Lleyton Hewitt and Sam Groth, who will make his Davis Cup debut, will play at home in Perth against Uzbekistan. Milos Raonic and Vasek Pospisil will lead Canada at home in Halifax against Colombia featuring Santiago Giraldo and Alejandro Falla

The match between the Ukraine and Belgium, which will be played on neutral ground in Tallinn, will feature Sergiy Stakhovsky and David Goffin.

Another match which will take place on neutral ground will be played by Israel and Argentine who travel to Sunrise (Florida). Leonardo Mayer, Carlos Berlocq, Horacio Zeballos and Federico Delbonis will try to continue the tradition of the Argentine team who have played in the World Group every year since 2001.

Davis Cup

Davis Cup: Croatia Replaces Captain Just Days Before The Finals

Zeljko Krajan is fired by the Croatian Federation because of contrasts with players. His replacement will be Franko Skugor. Ivo Karlovic was selected to replace Cilic but declined to play a Challenger in Houston

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Croatian Davis Cup captain Zeljko Krajan - 2018 Davis Cup Final (photo Gianni Ciaccia - Sportvision)

The Croatian Tennis Federation has issued a press release informing that Zeljko Krajan is no longer the Davis Cup captain for the Croatian team. Less than a week before the BNP Paribas Davis Cup Finals at the Caja Magica in Madrid, Krajan’s departure is described as a mutual decision by the official press release, but according to Croatian press agency Hina the former captain categorically denied this version of the events and confirmed he unwillingly had to acknowledge his dismissal. Krajan did not deny there had been disputes between himself and the Federation, but he thought everything had been settled: “I was ready for the press conference on Monday and the departure to Madrid on Tuesday” he said.

 

During the press conference in Zagreb on Monday, instead, the Croatian Tennis Federation named 32-year-old Franko Skugor as the new captain of the Croatian team who will lead the squad in Madrid next week: “These are not the ideal conditions for the team, given the situation, but it has been decided I will lead the team” said Skugor to the press. The President of the Tennis Federation Nikolina Babic explained their decision to replace the captain and confirmed the players agreed with this course of action: “Krajan had lost credibility among the players. We spoke to him and realized it would be better if he didn’t come to Madrid”.

This ends a tumultuous week for Croatian tennis: first there was Marin Cilic’s withdrawal from the team, then the controversial nomination of 40-year-old Ivo Karlovic as his replacement, despite his commitment to play the Houston Challenger next week to boost his chances for a Top 100 year-end ranking (he is currently n. 106) and a direct entry into the 2020 Australian Open singles main draw.

Some media outlets in Zagreb claiming to have access to inside sources are suggesting there are also financial issues behind the events of this last week: it is believed that some players did not like the idea of late-comer Ivo Karlovic receiving an equal share of the Davis Cup prize money. Furthermore, it is highlighted how the decision to remove Krajan from his post came after a meeting that included also the players, some of whom did not have a good relationship with Krajan: Borna Coric refused to play in Davis Cup in 2017 after being excluded from the Final in 2016 and Mate Pavic was kept out of the team on many occasions despite being one of the best doubles players in the world.

In order to replace Marin Cilic, the new Croatian captain nominated both Borna Gojo (ATP n. 279) and Nino Serdarusic (ATP n. 283) as singles players.

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Davis Cup

Marin Cilic Withdraws From Davis Cup

The injury-stricken season of the former grand slam champion has come to an end.

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Croatia’s chances of winning a second consecutive Davis Cup title has been dealt a blow after Marin Cilic confirmed that he will skip the tournament on medical advice.

 

The former US Open champion, who has been blighted by a knee injury in recent months, will miss the team tournament to ‘undergo some small interventions.’ Although he has revealed that a recent scan showed that surgery is not required on his knee. Cilic has been troubled by a recurring knee injury throughout what has been a roller coaster 2019 season for him.

“The last year and a half has been a real struggle mentally and physically for me. Even with all the preventative work and rehab my team and I did, my recurring knee injury has continued to give me problems, and as the season progressed it was becoming more evident that surgery was inevitable.” Cilic wrote in an Instagram post.
“I recently did an ultrasound and luckily the results were better than expected. The rehab work was successful enough that surgery is not necessary at this stage, however, I will need to undergo a few minor interventions which will keep me off the tennis court for a longer period and unfortunately means I will not be able to compete at the Davis Cup this month.”

The withdrawal of the 31-year-old has brought his troubled season to an end. It is the first time he hasn’t won at least one ATP title since 2007, when he claimed two Challenger titles that year. Cilic will end the season outside the top 30 for the first time since 2013.

“I will dedicate myself to getting back to form so that I can enter the 2020 season healthier, more prepared, and more motivated than ever.” He declared.

Cilic is an instrumental figure in his country’s Davis Cup team. He has won more Davis Cup matches (39) than any other Croatian player and has played in 25 ties over a 12-year period. In the Davis Cup final last year he won both of his singles matches to guide Croatia to a 3-1 win over France. Their second title in the history of the competition.

There has been no official announcement about how will replace Cilic in the team. However, one source has reported that Ivo Karlovic is set to make a return at the age of 40. Croatian newspaper Novi List claims that Karlovic has been invited to join the team should a gap arises. He has only played in the team competition once since 2013, which was in the 2016 final.

The revamped Davis Cup will get underway on November 18th. 18 teams will take part in a round-robin tournament over a week. This year’s event is being held at the Caja Magica in Spain.

Croatia has been drawn in the same group as Russia and Spain.

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Davis Cup

Revamped Davis Cup Finale Blighted By Slow Ticket Sales

It is not going to plan for organisers of the team competition with numerous sessions yet to sell half of their tickets.

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With less than two weeks to go until the start of the brand new Davis Cup format organisers have admitted for the first time that they are ‘disappointed’ with the ticket sales.

 

Later this month, 18 teams will take part in a week-long round-robin format in a similar structure to that of the football World Cup. The controversial changes to the competition were approved by an ITF vote last year with heavy investment from Kosmos. A company founded by Barcelona footballer Gerard Pique. Kosmos has pledged to invest $3 billion in the event over a 25-year period.

Despite the large financial backing, it appears that the organisers are finding it harder than expected to to shift tickets. According to details obtained by the Press Association on November 5th, only nine out of the 25 sessions have managed to sell 50% or more of available tickets. Although five others are ‘close to doing so.’

“We are happy with ticket sales for the afternoon sessions and from Friday until Sunday (quarter-finals, semi-finals and final) but it’s much more difficult to sell tickets for morning sessions, as happens in all tournaments.” A Kosmos spokesperson told The Press Association.
“We are working with the 17 embassies in Spain in order to reach international communities living in Spain. We have economic prices. The cheapest ticket costs 25 euros and you can see a tie (comprising three matches).”

The venue of this year’s competition is the Caja Magica, which hosts the Madrid Open every year in May. In recent times the combined ATP/WTA has attracted more than a quarter of a million visitors each edition with numerous sessions selling out. This year a record 278,110 spectators attended. Eliminating the theory that it could be the location or venue causing the slow sales for the team event.

Both Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have confirmed their intentions to play in the Davis Cup finals. However, 20-time grand slam champion Roger Federer will be absent and has recently cast doubt on his future participation in the event. Daniil Medvedev, Matteo Berrettini, Marin Cilic and Andy Murray are also set to play.

One of the new features of the event is that it will have both opening and closing ceremonies featuring numerous artists. On November 18th DJ Alan Walker will kick-off then event along with Puerto Rican singer Farruko. On the same day, Spanish band Taburete will play on the main stadium following the first match between Croatia and Russia. The closing ceremony on the 24th will be headlined by Shakira, who is the wife of Kosmos founder Pique.

The first four days of the Davis Cup finals will be the group stages. There will be six groups of three teams. The winners and two of the best-performing runners-up (based on number of games, sets and matches won) will then qualify for the quarter-final stage.

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