TENNIS DAVIS CUP 2014 – Federer and Wawrinka beat Julien Benneteau and Gael Monfils 6-3 7-5 6-4 in two hours and 12 minutes in the Saturday’s doubles match in the Stade Pierre Mauroy in Lille to give the Swiss team a crucial point for 2-1 over nine-time Davis Cup champions from France. Federer could score the decisive third point in the first rubber singles match. Diego Sampaolo
Switzerland is just one point away from lifting their first Davis Cup Trophy in history 22 years after losing 1-3 in Fort Worth against a star-studded US team.
The doubles match was expected to be an exciting and unpredictable match but Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka, 2008 Olympic champions, played the perfect match winning in straight sets over 2012 doubles Olympic bronze medallists Julien Benneteau and Richard Gasquet.
Federer and Wawrinka broke a four-match losing streak in the Davis Cup (including a defeat earlier this year against Kazakhstan). The star-studded Swiss team scored their first doubles team on clay. They hit 67 winners, including seven aces, and won 40 of their 53 points at the net
Peter Lammer and Marco Chiudinelli won the only doubles match this year in the first round match against Serbia, while Federer and Wawrinka lost their four previous doubles matches. However Swiss captain Severin Luthi’s decision to opt for the 2008 Olympic champions proved to be successful.
Federer and Wawrinka never dropped their serve and saved all the five break point chances they faced during the second set. Benneteau, Roland Garros doubles champion and semifinalist at the ATP World Tour Finals in London with Edouard Roger-Vasselin this year, played a solid match but it was not enough to pose a threat to the Swiss team despite the strong support from the French fans in the Stade Pierre Mauroy.
The first set went on serve until the sixth game when Wawrinka earned the first two break point chances at 15-40 with two backhand shots. Benneteau saved the first break point but Wawrinka got the break for 4-2 with a backhand volley. Federer held serve to 15 to wrap up the first set with 6-3 in 28 minutes. The Swiss team dropped just five service points and won 17 winners
The second set started with Benneteau on serve. The Frenchman hit an ace and two service winners to hold the serve to 30. Federer hit a volley into the net and faced a break point at 30-40. Federer saved it with a volley before holding serve at deuce. Switzerland faced two break points at 15-40 in the fourth game but Federer held serve for 2-2. The French team earned two more break points in the 8th game but they failed to convert them. Wawrinka held serve for 4-4 with a volley and a service winner.
Switzerland brought up two break points at 4-4 15-40. If they had converted them, Federer would have served to give the Swiss team a 2-0 lead. The home team held serve for 5-4. Federer served to stay in the set at 4-5 and held serve. Switzerland raised the game and got a crucial break of serve to 15 to take the 6-5 lead when Federer hit a backhand return at 15-40. Federer closed out to 15 to wrap up the second set with 7-5. The five break points Benneteau and Gasquet failed to convert proved to be crucial.
Gasquet went up 40-0 but Switzerland earned two break points after Gasquet made a couple of mistakes. Gasquet saved with his serve to give France a 2-1 lead but Federer and Wawrinka earned two break points at 15-40 in the fifth game. Gasquet saved the first break point with a smash. Switzerland converted the third break point when Wawrinka hit a passing shot. The break in the fifth game proved to be enough to clinch the match in straight sets.
Encouraged by the supportive French crowd Gasquet managed to save the first match point at 3-5 but Switzerland held serve to love in the next game and sealed the win with a volley winner.
Gasquet and Benneteau won just 19 of their 87 service return points.
“We tried to play aggressive and dictate the match. It’s a big relief. I am extremely happy that I am on the court helping the team. It’s always a pleasure playing with Stan. We played exceptionally well. I think a doubles is a test because you got to keep serving and volleying, being explosive all the time. I am relieved to do that. I will try to play my best tomorrow. Hopefully I will feel fine tomorrow”, said Federer
Federer talked about the contribution of David McPherson who was contacted by Severin Luthi. “He has been very helpful for us. We had a good and long conversation about the doubles. I am so happy that Severin had the idea to contact David and he was ready to jump onboard and help us. Singles is more freestyle. You play the way you feel. You don’t play the tendencies so much. In doubles I guess you have to do it more often sometimes”, said Federer
“It was great doubles. Past Davis Cup matches were not that good but it was a different tie. We are ready to play well, ready to go for the doubles. It was important to be aggressive on the court and to show that we are going to take the lead and going to take the doubles. I feel great. It was important to get some confidence. I feel that I am playing well on the court. I need to try everything in my racquet to win these matches. We are leading 2-1 and we have a chance to play the last game. We will face a tough day tomorrow but I am fit. We know very well and it’s easy for us to play together. I was confident with my game after playing well yesterday. Today we both played very well and did a good job”, said Wawrinka
“I feel great. It was an unbelievable doubles. Roger and Stan did a great job but we need to stay focused for tomorrow”, said Severin Luthi. “We wanted to put the best team on court. Playing the double helped Roger. He will be be ready for tomorrow. We talked about the possibilities the French team have but it was more about preparing ourselves in the best possible way. ”
Benneteau talked about the French defeat and the attempt to do something different to break the Swiss team in the second set. “At the end of the second set we were very close to break them. We do not think we had to change a lot of things. We just have to put some pieces of the puzzle together. The returns were better. After that they played good at the volley. Our second shot could have been better at this time. We could have returned at the same time together. This is one of the keys in doubles. It was tough to lose the second set because we had the feeling that we could have won this one”
“I could have played better”, said a disappointed Gasquet. “I was not able to make the breakpoints I had in the second set. If we had got a break, we would have in a better position for winning the second set where we had five breakpoints. It was on my side and I could have done better on some of them. I had an unlucky return. I didn’t play an exceptional match and I am disappointed”
Jo Wilfred Tsonga will need a miracle to keep French hopes alive when he faces Federer in the first reverse rubber match on Sunday. The fifth rubber match will feature Wawrinka and Monfils.
Former Grand Slam Champion Hits Out At ‘Abysmal’ Davis Cup
Australia’s most successful doubles player in Davis Cup history isn’t happy about the changes made to team event.
Former world No.1 Doubles player Todd Woodbridge has taken a fresh swipe at the revamped Davis Cup and their allocation of wild cards for the 2020 finals.
The 48-year-old has blasted the format of the historic team event following major changes that was made this year. Last month was the first time the finals took place over a week with 18 teams participating in one location in Madrid. At the event there was a few blips with the scheduling being at times problematic. Highlighted by the tie between the USA and Italy that went on until 4am.
Despite the issues, there were also positives to be taken away from the event, which was won by Spain. However, Woodbridge remains a critic. The Australian is his country’s most successful doubles player in the history of the Davis Cup with 25 wins under his belt. Overall, he played in 32 ties over a 14-year period (1991-2005).
“The tennis itself has been brilliant, the organisation has been abysmal,” Woodbridge said on Australian programme Sports Sunday.
“Everything from IT issues, to playing matches that finish at 4am, and then today the ITF go, ‘Well we’re going to put in more wild cards.”
It is the wild cards decision that has irritated the 16-time grand slam champion the most. Recently it was announced that Serbia and France has been handed passes into the finals next November. Meaning that will not have to go through the play-off ties. Woodbridge has suggested the move was deliberately made in order to persuade Novak Djokovic to play in the event again.
“They’ve given wild cards this week, for 12 months’ time. You’ve got to ask the question, how can you do that? It looks like they’re guaranteeing Novak Djokovic a spot for next year … ‘We want you back so we’re going to guarantee you can be there, you don’t have to play the qualifying match earlier in the year,” he said.
“And then France have also been put in, so you’ve got to ask the question, the President of the ITF is also French and I’m sure he’s had a big influence in that discussion. They’ve got so many things to fix if it’s going to be a success next year.
“The biggest issue was crowd. We (Australia) played our first match with about 400 people watching, and that’s a great disappointment.”
Gerard Pique if the founder of Kosmos, whose investment has enabled the transformation of the Davis cup. In a recent interview with Spanish media, he said the allocation of a wild card to France was done so the country ‘feel part of the competition because the format will continue like this.’
“We’re delighted with how everything went and above all with the final, which Spain won,” he told Onda Cero about the 2019 Davis Cup finals. “There are things which need to be improved, like the times of the games, which has an easy solution in the form of adding another court and changing the times a little bit.”
The 2020 Davis Cup qualifying rounds will get underway in March.
Roberto Bautista Agut: ‘My Father Would Have Given Me An Earful If I Had Stayed At Home’
The Spaniard opens up about his decision to return to the Davis Cup following the death of his father.
Throughout the Davis Cup finals player’s have illustrated their commitment to their country in the competition, but Roberto Bautista Agut took it to another level.
The world No.9 was hit with personal tragedy half-way through the event in Madrid. On November 21st Bautista Agut left the competition to return home after receiving the news that his father’s health had taken a turn for the worse. Ximo Bautista had a serious domestic accident three years ago, which caused serious health issues. He passed away shortly after his son returned home.
Grieving for the loss of his father, 18 months after his mother died, Bautista Agut attended his funeral on Saturday. 24 hours after that he was back playing in the Davis Cup once again representing Spain.
“I made the decision to go home on Thursday and I was lucky to be with my father the last minutes of his life and say goodbye to him.” Bautista Agut told reporters. “My father would have given me an earful if I had stayed at home.”
The unexpected and admirable return of the 31-year-old brought glory to his team on Sunday. In the first tie of the final, Bautista Agut disposed of Felix Auger-Aliassime in straight sets to hand the hosts the lead. Victory was then sealed in the following match after Rafael Nadal defeated Denis Shapovalov.
“When I took the car to come (back to the Davis Cup), the last thing on my mind was to play,” he said.
“But in the final, my head wanted to face that game, and luckily it went well.’
“I didn’t know if I could measure up, but I left everything there. The moment has been very beautiful and unrepeatable.”
World No.1 Nadal has described his rival as an ‘inspiration’ for showing his commitment to the Davis Cup. Bautista Agut played a total of three matches in the seven-day event, winning two of those. His victory over Auger-Aliassime made him only the 10th Spanish player in history to have won a match in a Davis Cup final.
“What Roberto did today (Sunday) is something out of this planet,” Nadal said. “Roberto has been an inspiration to all of us.
“Whatever happens this cannot be a climax for someone who has lost his father this week.”
The Davis Cup triumph caps off what has been a strong season for Bautista Agut, who has cracked the year-end top 10 for the first time in his career. His only title took place back in January where he won the Qatar Open. At Wimbledon he reached his first-ever grand slam semi-final. Overall, Bautista Agut achieved a win-loss of 42-22.
The Spanish No.2 will marry his longtime girlfriend next weekend.
Rafael Nadal, Roberto Bautista Agut Guide Spain To Davis Cup Glory
Spain has ended their eight-year title drought at the newly revamped competition.
World No.1 Rafael Nadal has clinched the Davis Cup title for Spain after defeating Denis Shapovalov in straight sets to give his country an unassailable lead in their clash against Canada.
Nadal, who hasn’t lost a match throughout the entire week in Madrid, overcame some spirited play from across the court to prevail 6-3, 7-6(7). Sealing the trophy for his country for the first time since 2011.
During his clash with Shapovalov, the 16-time grand slam champion broke once during the opening set, but was tested thoroughly in the second. Fighting his way through some lengthy service games with one of those lasting almost 10 minutes.
It would be a dramatic tiebreaker where he sealed the victory. It looked as if Nadal would be strolling to the win after hitting an ace to claim two match points at 6-4. However, both of those were saved by forehand winners from Shapovalov who drew level once again. It would be third time lucky for Nadal after a shot from across the court slammed into the net. Prompting him to drop to the ground in tears of joy.
“I could not be happier. It has been an unforgettable moment in this amazing stadium (Caja Magica).” Said Nadal.
“Our team spirit prevailed. We fought hard.” He added.
The Spanish team got off to a solid start in the tie thanks to Roberto Bautista Agut’s admirable return to the competition. 31-year-old Agut left the event half-way through the week due to his seriously ill father who sadly passed away. However, he came back to Madrid and got the hosts their first point after disposing of an error-stricken Felix Auger-Aliassime 7-6(3), 6-3. The 19-year-old, who was playing his first match in the seven-day competition, committed 45 unforced errors.
“It was a very special feeling on the court,” Agut told Eurosport after.
“I just could go out and try my best, give my best.
“I am very happy I could win the first point for Spain.”
The Spanish team were unbeaten on home soil this week. Scoring wins over Russia, Croatia, Argentina and Great Britain. Making them the first ever winners of the revamped Davis Cup, which featured a total of 18 teams in finale.
“It has been an amazing week. There have been a lot of things we went through.” Nadal reflected.
“The father of Roberto passed away, Marcel (Granollers) yesterday was stiff with his lower back and Pablo (Carreno-Busta) getting injured in the singles. A lot of things happened.”
Nadal’s commitment to the competition has been hailed by captain Sergi Bruguera. Who described the world No.1 as being ‘out of this world.’ He has played in eight matches with five of those being in the singles competition. Overall, he dropped only one set in his doubles match against Russia.
“Rafa, I don’t know if he is out of this world.” Said Bruguera.
“Throughout this week I don’t think there was one day we went to sleep before 3am. One day, I think it was Friday, he went to sleep at 5:10am and then he was playing singles and doubles again (the next day).”
Although Nadal was a key figure in the triumph, it wasn’t just him that guided his country to victory. It is the sixth time in History Spain has won the event. Historically, there are now ten Spanish men who have won a match in a Davis Cup final.
“The truth is when you have this kind of moment it is difficult to describe in words because there are so many feelings. So many emotions I have never felt before.” Their captain explained.
“I have no words for this. Roberto was at his father’s funeral yesterday and now he was here (in Madrid) giving everything.’
“The mentality, spirit and concentration of the team I have no idea how to describe.”
Spain has a chance to defend their title on home soil next year with Madrid being the chosen host of the 2020 finals.
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