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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

Tennis Stars Voice Concerns Over Staging Tokyo Olympics

After being delayed by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, top players such as Naomi Osaka and Kei Nishikori still have reservations.

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The area around the Olympic Rings and Olympic Stadium - (image via olympics.com)

Japan’s top male tennis player Kei Nishikori has questioned how much preparation the IOC and local officials in his home country has prepared for a ‘worst-case’ scenario of hosting the Olympics. 

 

The four-year event has already been postponed by 12 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic and some have called for the sporting extravaganza to be scrapped. Recently governors of nine Japanese prefectures said there should be an option to suspend or even cancel the Olympics altogether if cases in the region can’t be kept under control. Three of those governors are in charge of cities set to stage Olympic events. 

Weighing in on the debate, former US Open finalist Nishikori raises doubts over how organisers plan to hold a safe event given the high number of athletes that will be present, which is an estimated 11,000. Japan has already said that overseas fans are banned and international athletes will not be able to bring relatives with them to minimise the risk.

“I don’t know what they are thinking, and I don’t know how much they are thinking about how they are going to make a bubble, because this is not 100 people like these tournaments,” Nishikori said after his first-round match at the Italian Open on Monday.
“It’s 10,000 people in the village. So I don’t think it’s easy, especially what’s happening right now in Japan. It’s not doing good. Well, not even (just) Japan. You have to think all over the world right now.”

The world No.45 expresses a view similar to the of four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka who said earlier this week that she was ‘not sure’ if the event should go ahead due to the current case numbers.  

“I’m an athlete, and of course my immediate thought is that I want to play in the Olympics,” she said.
“But as a human, I would say we’re in a pandemic, and if people aren’t healthy, and if they’re not feeling safe, then it’s definitely a really big cause for concern.”

In the latest figures published by health officials, Tokyo reported 925 news cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday which is an increase of almost 400 compared to the previous day. Although Monday figures are usually low due to the closure of testing centres over the weekend. Tuesday’s number is higher compared to this time last week (609 cases) and two weeks ago (828 cases).

Besides the COVID-19 concerns, the prospect of having to go to the Games without a member of family could result in the absence of four-time gold medallist Serena Williams. The former world No.1 says she is undecided on playing the event and hasn’t been separated from her three-year-old daughter for more than 24 hours before.

“I haven’t spent 24 hours without her, so that kind of answers the question itself,” said Williams.
“I haven’t really thought much about Tokyo, because it was supposed to be last year and now it’s this year, and then there is this pandemic and there is so much to think about.
“Then there are the Grand Slams. It’s just a lot. So I have really been taking it one day at a time to a fault, and I definitely need to figure out my next moves.”

Besides athlete concerns, Olympic organisers are also facing falling public support. A recent poll conducted by newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun found that nearly 60% of respondents wanted the Games to be cancelled. Furthermore TBS news reported 65% of people surveyed in another poll wanted the event either cancelled or suspended again, with 37% supporting the cancellation and 28% in favour of suspension.

The Olympic tennis event is set to start on July 24th. 

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Top Tennis Tournaments Among 97 Events UK Sport Hopes To Host Over The Next Decade

A plan for the ‘greatest decade of extraordinary sporting moments’ in the UK has been published and tennis is among the sports officials are interested in.

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London's O2 Arena, venue of the ATP World Tour Finals between 2009-2020 (photo by Alberto Pezzali)

The government agency responsible for investing in Olympic and Paralympic sport within Great Britain has said they could submit an application to host two team tennis events over the next decade.

 

UK Sport has labelled both the Billie Jean King Cup and Davis Cup Finals as an ‘opportunity’ for them to host in their 10-year strategic plan which will last until 2021. Overall the country is looking at the possibility of staging 97 events across 44 sports over the next 10 years. Those behind the plan believe such a move could generate a total of £7 billion for the UK economy. A live feasibility study is already underway for bidding to host the 2030 football World Cup, 2026 European Athletic Championships and more.

“Together we have achieved so much in Olympic and Paralympic sport. Nevertheless, we are very aware there is no room for complacency and that we must build on our success to create the next exciting phase of high-performance sport,” UK Sport chair Dame Katherine Grainger said in a statement.
“One where we work even more collaboratively and inclusively to keep winning and win well, in ways that will inspire more people and have a broader impact on our society.
“Achieving on the world stage will still sit firmly at the heart of what we do. But we should not underestimate the powerful platform that provides us with, and it is our shared responsibility to better harness this for positive social change.”

When it comes to both the Billie Jean King Cup and Davis Cup, UK Sport has categorized them as a mega event. Meaning they are ‘seen as the pinnacle of their sport at World level and which have significant staging costs, attract more than 100,000 live spectators, entail considerable delivery complexity and require extensive public funding and guarantee commitments.’ At present they have been labelled as an ‘opportunity’ by the agency. Meaning that no decision to bid to host them has been made yet but remains a good possibility.

The government made no reference to what venues could be used, especially regarding the tennis events which will require more than one court due to the change of the tournament in recent years. The finals of the team events now last for a week or so and are done initially in a group format before turning into a knock-out stage.

This year’s Davis Cup finals are taking place across three European cities. However, the women’s equivalent remains in doubt after the ITF ended their contract with the Hungarian Tennis Association who were meant to be holding the event. Hungary recently sent a letter saying it was no longer feasible to do so due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The UK is best known for its staging of the prestigious Wimbledon Championships, as well as other grass-court events. Furthermore, it also experienced great success in hosting the ATP Finals between 2009-2020 which attracted more than 2.8 million visitors during that period.

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Davis Cup Finals To Become Three-City Event From 2021

Austria and Italy join Spain in hosting the finale of the men’s team competition.

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The International Tennis Federation has approved a plan to transform the Davis Cup finals into a three-city event with it taking place over a longer duration.

 

Starting from 2021 the finals of the 121-year-old men’s team competition will be held across three European venues which are set to have ‘similar conditions.’ Madrid, who hosted the event back in 2019, will remain the location for both the semi-finals and finals. Additionally, Turin in Italy and Innsbruck in Austria will co-host the event with each of them staging two of the six groups, as well as one quarter-final.

The development is the latest change made by the ITF in partnership with Kosmos, who have pledged to invest $3 billion in the sport over a 25-year period. Kosmos is the key driving force being the recent transformation of the competition and was founded by footballer Gerard Pique.

“The proposals announced in January were aimed at providing a better schedule for players while bringing the competition to new audiences and improving the experience for fans. Following a thorough bid process, we are delighted to be able to confirm Innsbruck and Turin as co-hosts alongside Madrid. We are confident that, together, they will deliver an outstanding world championship event for players and fans alike.” ITF Senior Executive Director, Professional Tennis, Kris Dent, said in a statement.

As a result of Turin’s and Innsburk’s inclusion in the finals, the competition has been extended from seven days to 11 days. A total of 18 teams are set to take part in the finals which wasn’t held last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. From next year the number of teams will be reduced to 16. The ITF confirmed the schedule of tournaments will be issued in the ‘coming weeks.’

Former French Open champion Albert Costa says the two cities have been selected to ‘ensure a smooth transition’ between countries for players. Costa, who is Director of the Davis Cup Finals, has stressed that the conditions of each venue are similar to each other.

We are very excited to bring the Davis Cup Finals to Innsbruck and Turin. Both cities submitted impressive bids that not only promise a world class experience for players and fans, but also include stringent measures to ensure the health and safety of all in attendance,” said Costa.
“It was important to find two European cities that were well connected to Madrid, with similar playing conditions, to provide a smooth transition for players travelling from other venues. With confirmation of the three venues, we are already working hard to offer the best possible event in 2021. We are also liaising closely with the Region of Madrid and the City Council as thanks to their support, Madrid remains as the main venue for this year.”

There are questions about if the move will be enough to attract the top names. Due to the extension, the event will result in the off-season being reduced by a week. A key period for many players who used it for training.There are also questions about the decision to launch a multi-county tournament this year during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic will each country having their own rules.

The Davis Cup finals are set to take place between November 25th and December 5th.

Venues of 2021 Davis Cup Finals

Madrid Arena, Madrid (ESP)

  • Group A: Spain, Russian Tennis Federation (RTF), Ecuador
  • Group B: Canada, Kazakhstan, Sweden
  • Quarter-finals: Winner Group A v group runner-up; Winner Group B v group runner-up
  • Semi-finals and final

Olympia-Halle, Innsbruck (AUT)

  • Group C: France, Great Britain, Czech Republic
  • Group F: Serbia, Germany, Austria
  • Quarter-final: Winner Group C v Winner Group F

Pala Alpitour Arena, Turin (ITA)

  • Group D: Croatia, Australia, Hungary
  • Group E: USA, Italy, Colombia
  • Quarter-final: Winner Group D v Winner Group E

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