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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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