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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

Is Covid-19 Just An Excuse To Axe The 2020 Davis Cup Finals?

The decision to cancel the team event five months before it was set to start may be more complex than what officials are letting on.

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On Friday the International Tennis Federation issued a statement to confirm that their two premier tennis team events will not be taking place this year.

 

The Davis Cup and Fed Cup tournaments have been delayed until 2021 due to the global uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. For the Davis Cup, it is only the 12th time in history a season has ended without a champion being decided since its birth in 1900 and the first since 1945. The teams that have qualified for the week-long finals this year will instead have to wait until November 2021 to battle it out for the title.

“This is a tough decision to have to make, but delivering an international team event on this scale while guaranteeing the health and safety of all involved ultimately poses too great a risk,” ITF President David Haggerty said in a statement. “It is a complex undertaking and we have made the decision now to provide certainty for players, national associations and fans.”

There are however some questions over why the ITF has made this announcement five months before the start of the tournament. Especially when both the ATP and WTA Tours are set to restart in August. Furthermore Madrid, where this year’s finals were scheduled to take place, will still host their premier combined event at the Caja Magica in September.

“It’s the inconsistencies that I find tedious. Two months before the Davis Cup was meant to be playing we are playing at the same venue in Madrid for the masters. In regards to the crowds there seemed to be a fair bit of social distancing at this event last year,” John Millman wrote on Twitter.

It appears that there could be a more substantial financial reason to postpone the Kosmos-backed event. Investment company Kosmos was founded by Gerard Pique and has pledged millions into the Davis Cup in a deal to help revamp it. French newspaper L’Equipe have quoted sources reporting that the event lost an astonishing 50 million euros in 2019, which was the first year where the new format took place. Furthermore, it has been reported that the decision to scrap November’s event will help save 18 million euros.

Furthermore, one senior figure at Tennis Canada has suggested that Pique had tried to do everything he could to prevent the tournament from taking place. Louis Borfiga, who serves as his country’s Vice President of High Performance, said he believes there has been no meetings with the federations prior to Friday’s announcement.

“While everyone is doing everything possible to try to replay, I have the impression that Piqué did everything to prevent the Davis Cup from taking place this year,” he said in a separate interview with L’Equipe.
“ They (Kosmos leaders) put forward health reasons, I hope they are the right ones. They are going to have the right role. There is nothing we can say about health.”
“When I read the official press release, I am surprised by one thing. It is Piqué who speaks first, and the president of the ITF (David Haggerty) after. That too is shocking.” He added.

Borfiga is not alone in this view. Back in March tennis player Nicola Mahut criticised Pique for not being more optimistic about holding the finals this year. The Spaniard had previously said he was ‘pessimistic’ about having the event without fans.

“The message he sent through his statements is: ” If Madrid is complicated and we cannot do it, well it will be cancelled and he will save some money.” Mahut commented.

According to Diario AS, the Madrid economy will lose in the region of 50 million euros due to the finals not being held. Furthermore, it is estimated that 600 jobs would have been created to support the running of the tournament from start to finish.

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Gerard Pique’s Pessimistic Davis Cup Outlook Blasted By French Tennis Star

The football player has been urged to ‘put more energy’ in finding a solution for the event to take place in 2020.

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Kosmos founder Gerard Pique has come under fire over his plans for the Davis Cup Finals later this year after recently casting doubt on the event taking place due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

 

Pique, whose company helped finance the transformation of the 120-year-old team competition, recently admitted that he was doubtful that the event could go ahead if crowds weren’t allowed to attend. Last year was the first time the new format of the competition took place with 18 teams featuring in a week-long round-robin tournament which was won by host nation Spain.

“I’m a bit pessimistic, to have the Davis Cup with no fans is difficult,” Pique told Movistar.
“There is a lot of uncertainty. We are listening to what the sport’s ministry and the government are telling us about whether we’ll have the ability to have fans.”

All professional tennis tournaments have been suspended since March due to the Pandemic. Officials are hoping to be able to get the sport going again in August ahead of the US Open that is scheduled to take place. Although some have doubts about the chances of the Tour’s starting by then, including world No.43 John Millman.

Amid the ongoing uncertainty, French tennis star Nicolas Mahut has criticized Pique’s bleak outlook for this year’s Davis Cup finale. The 38-year-old has represented his country in 13 ties, including the 2018 final as well as the semifinals in two other years.

“We don’t have a lot of information. But as a player, you can just trust the official statements. And when I hear Pique, I’m extremely disappointed,” Mahut told L’Equipe.

Mahut has called on Pique to explore more options such as potentially relocating the event to another country if it would make it safer for the event to go ahead. Implying that he was his duty to do so after setting ‘to destroy the formula’ of the event. Critics of the revamp have accused Pique of ruining the traditional competition.

“I would like him to put as much energy into saving the Davis Cup that he has set up. That is to say, to find solutions for it to take place in Madrid or elsewhere, as he has set to destroy the formula that had been in place for over a hundred years,” he said,
“The message he sent through his statements, is: ” If Madrid is complicated and we cannot do it, well it cancels and I save some money. ” And it bothers me a lot compared to what has happened for more than a year. We don’t play with this competition. Maybe that suits it.”

Kosmos has signed a $3 billion 25-year deal with the ITF to acquire the rights for the Davis Cup Finals.

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Davis Cup Finals In Doubt, Admits Gerard Pique

The Kosmos founder explains why he isn’t too optimistic about the team event going ahead later this year.

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MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 24: Crowds of peoples during of the Davis Cup by Rakuten Madrid Finals 2019 at Caja Magica on November 24, 2019 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Pedro Salado / Kosmos Tennis)

The chances of this year’s Davis Cup Finals taking place are still up in the air with one of the key figures involved in the competition openly saying that he is ‘pessimistic’ about its chances.

 

Football star Gerard Pique is one the driving forces behind the new format following a huge financial investment from his company Kosmos. Signing a 25-year deal with the International Tennis Federation worth in the region of $3 billion. Despite the significant investment, Pique admits that he has low hopes of the event taking place later this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. All professional tennis tournaments have been halted since March.

“There is a lot of uncertainty, we try to be aware of what the government says regarding sports and to whether we can put spectators inside the Caja Magica,” Pique said during an interview with Movistar.
“I would say I am a bit pessimistic, because a Davis Cup without fans is difficult.
“I think that nobody at the moment has the certainty that we can put fans in or if it will have to be behind closed doors. As the days go by, I suppose we will have a little more clarity.”

Spain is currently in the process of relaxing some of their lockdown restrictions with tennis players being able to train at local facilities from next week. The country is following a four-stage plan with the hope that their premier La Liga football league will resume next month at some stage.

However, the issue for the Davis Cup is the limited number of fans that would be able to go to the tournament if it takes place. In more advanced stages of the plans, no more than 50 people can attend an indoor venue. Although the number could be increased by November, it will be a stark difference to 2019. Held at the Caja Magica, the total capacity of the premier court is 12,500 people.

Last year’s final saw Spain lift the title for the first time since 2011 after they defeated Canada in the final. The two teams are seeded third and sixth in this year’s draw.

The Davis Cup is scheduled to take place between November 23-29 in Madrid. The ATP, WTA and ITF will not restart their Tour’s until at least July 13th, however, there is speculation that the suspension will be extended in the coming weeks.

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