TENNIS – Roger Federer sealed the first Swiss Davis Cup triumph with a 6-4 6-2 6-2 in one hour and 42 minutes win over Richard Gasquet who replaced injured Jo Wilfred Tsonga in the first reverse rubber match at the Stade Pierre Mauroy in Lille in front of 27.448 spectators, which broke a new world record attendance for a tennis match. Federer won a one-sided match where he did not face any break point chances. Diego Sampaolo
Twenty-two years after their first final against the USA in Fort Worth where a star-studded US team beat Switzerland 3-1, the red-crossed team has become the 14th country to clinch the Davis Cup Trophy in the 115-year-old history of this event.
Roger Federer has finally fulfilled his dream to lift the Davis Cup Trophy, one of the very few titles missing from his trophy cabinet
Federer led 12-2 in his previous head-to-head matches against Gasquet. The Frenchman won their only previous two matches on clay but this time Federer was unstoppable. He was in full control of the match from the first set against Richard Gasquet who replaced Jo Wilfred Tsonga who was sidelined by an elbow injury.
Gasquet held serve to 15 in the first game. Federer won the second game to 15 on his serve before breaking serve for the first time in the match in the third game of the opening set for 2-1 with a half-volley forehand winner and a forehand passing shot.The Swiss Maestro rallied from 0-30 to back up the break in the next game. Gasquet saved one break point at 2-4 30-40 with two backhand volleys. In the seventh game Federer recovered from 0-40 on Gasquet’s serve and earned a break point chance but the Frenchman managed to hold his serve. Gasquet saved three set points at 3-5 15-40 but Federer wrapped the first set with 6-4 on the next game. He held three consecutive serves to love and won 21 of his 25 service points. In the whole first set Federer dropped just four points on his serve.
Federer broke serve in the opening game of the second set as Gasquet hit a backhand into the net. Federer made two forehand unforced errors to trail 15-30 but he saved it with his serve before taking another break in the seventh game. Federer hit a backhand return to take a 0-30 lead on Gasquet’s return before bringing up three break points with his forehand. Gasquet saved the first but Federer converted on his second opportunity. Federer served for the second set at 5-2. He hit two aces before closing it out on his first set point with a spectacular backhand drop-shot.
Gasquet saved four break point chances at the start of the third set. Federer did not face any break point chances and got two breaks for 3-2 and 5-2. He held serve to love before sealing the win with a drop-shot on the first match point. He fell on his knees before hugging Swiss Captain Severin Luthi and Stan Wawrinka, Michael Lammer and Marco Chiudinelli.
Federer, who made his debut in the Davis Cup in 1999, helped Switzerland reach the semifinal in 2003 when the red-crossed team lost to Australia.
Federer scored the 73th win in 85 singles matches this year. He lost the second singles against Gael Monfils in his first match since he was sidelined by a back injury which forced hime to withdraw from the ATP Finals title match against Novak Djokovic. Yesterday Federer teamed up with Stan Wawrinka to put Switzerland into a 2-1 lead with a straight-set win in the doubles over Richard Gasquet and Julien Benneteau.
“I have been playing in this competition for almost 15 years and I have never been as close as in the past weekend. I am happy that I was able to stay calm and play a good match. I am really happy for the guys in the team. Everybody worked incredibly hard to get me match ready. Stan has put in so much effort over the years and played an unbelievable weekend that gave me the opportunity today. I am very much aware of that. This is one for the boys. It’s not for me. I have already won enough in my career and did not need to tick any empty boxes. I am just happy for everybody else. I am happy we could live a great historic moment in our country. I am happy with the way I played. I expected Jo on the other side of the net but I was able understand the change and I had one hour to get ready. I played aggressive tennis and it paid off. It’s been a long week, but one of the best weeks we have had overall as a team.Many team members have been on the team for almost 10 years, so we know each other very well”, said Federer.
Federer was asked to describe the difference between winning the Davis Cup and the Grand Slams and the Olympics.
“Everything feels a bit slightly different but at the end it’s a tennis match. You feel great emotions and you are unbelievably happy and relieved. We wanted incredibly badly, especially being up 2-1. Seeing Stan out there and rest of the team supporting me, I pushed extra. It was one of the best feelings in my career. It is so much nicer to celebrate it all together. It’s an amazing day for sports in our country. We are a small country. We don’t win big events every other week. I hope it can create great things for the future and inspire a generation and other people to inspire into sport. We have a fantastic team and that’s something that people see and appreciate.
“It’s an exceptional year for me. I have been dreaming the Davis Cup for years. I have been trying everything to win it. With Severin, with Roger, with Marco and Michael we have had many experiences together during the past years. This was the ideal year. It started off well in Serbia and it ends up well here in France”, said Wawrinka.
French captain Arnaud Clement expressed his disappointment after the 3-1 defeat but admitted that the home team did their best this weekend.
“I believe we tried everything. We did everything well, especially in the preparation for the matches, in the way we approached the final.We have preparing for it for weeks. However, I need to be better in the future. For the time being the first feeling is that Switzerland was better than we were during the whole weekend. I decided yesterday that Richard Gasquet would be playing today. Jo felt pain in his arm. On Saturday morning he made a test to see if he was able to play the doubles. It was not the case”, said Clement
Davis Cup Finals To Be Extended To 11 Days But With Fewer Teams
One of the oldest tennis events in the world will be changed once again.
The International Tennis Federation has approved a series of changes for the prestigious Davis Cup competition with the option of a multi-city finale on the cards.
In a bid to ‘ease the burden on players’ the ITF Board has extended the length of the Davis Cup finals from seven to 11 days. The move comes following the inaugural competition in 2019 when some ties went on until as late as 4am due to the scheduling. As a result of the change, this year’s finale is set to take place between November 25th – December 5th. Meaning that the competition will eat more into the off-season which players use to train for the following year.
Furthermore, from 2022 the number of teams playing in the finals will be reduced from 18 to 16. This year’s field will remain unchanged as the teams have already been decided. Both of these proposals were put forward by Kosmos, who is the main financial backer of the competition.
“We recognise that the most successful tournaments adapt and evolve over time, and while the inaugural Davis Cup Finals delivered fantastic tennis, it also provided some learnings,” tournament director Albert Costa said in a statement.
“We are committed to a long-term vision for this historic competition and are confident these adjustments will enhance the experience for players and fans.”
Discussions are also underway over the possibility of making the end-of-season team showdown a multi-city event. Kosmos wants to expand the number of hosts from one to three. Although details about how this will be done have not been disclosed and the ITF are yet to approve it. Supporters of the idea argue that it will make the event appeal to a wider audience.
“With large stadiums providing show courts for all ties, the introduction of a multi-city event will bring the competition to the widest possible audience, while we will also be able to ease the burden on players with improvements to the scheduling. Crucially, a revised schedule will allow us to avoid late finishes while providing more rest for players,” Costa commented.
Should the multi-city idea get the green light, Madrid will still host both the semi-finals and final of the event. Meanwhile the other two cities would each stage two group stages and one quarter-final. Interestingly Kosmos Tennis has already launched a bid to find cities despite their proposal not being approved yet.
The Davis Cup Finals will return later this year after the 2020 edition was forced to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Spain are the reigning champions.
Viktor Troicki Set For Key Davis Cup Role
The 34-year-old will continue his playing career in 2021 but is also likely to take on a top coaching position in his country.
Former world No.12 Viktor Troicki is likely to become the new captain of the Serbian Davis Cup team next year, according to various news sources.
Kurir newspaper has reported that the 34-year-old is set to take on the role when Nenad Zimonjic’s term as captain expires next year. Troicki is still an active player and is currently ranked 201st in the world following what has been a disappointing season for him. He has only managed to win one main draw match on the ATP Tour this season which was in January at the Pune Open in India.
“I am aware that the time is slowly coming when I am finishing my professional career. Now my priority is to prepare as well as possible for the new season,” Troicki recently told 24sedam.rs.
“I give myself about five or six months to see how I would feel, but also what results I would achieve. My plans also depend on that a lot. If it goes well, that’s great, but if I see that it’s not going and I’m struggling, I think that I will most likely stop playing actively.”
At the height of his career, Troicki was ranked 12th in the world rankings back in 2011. He has won three ATP titles with two of those occurring in Australia at the Sydney International in 2015 and 2016. He also won the 2010 Kremlin Cup in Moscow. In the Davis Cup he has played in 24 ties, including the 2010 final where Serbia won the team competition for the first time in history. Overall, he has won 24 out of 40 matches played at the event.
There has been no official confirmation yet of Troicki’s appointment but he has previously stated that he hopes to stay working in the sport after retiring. Should he take the role as captain, his term is set to continue until after the 2024 Olympic Games.
“As for my future plans, of course I will stay in tennis. I have been in it all my life and I think that I will give the most in where I am the best,” he said.
“I have some plans, but I don’t want to talk about them yet. Slowly, all in good time. My focus is on the beginning of preparations, and to do them as well as possible.”
Whilst he is staying coy about his future plans, another player has already praised his appointment as coach. During a recent TV interview on Nova S Filip Krajinović hinted that the appointment is already a done deal.
“First of all, we are friends, Ziki (Zimonjic) did an amazing job, Viktor is now the coach, we all supported him and we can’t wait to play for the national team again. We couldn’t play this year because of this situation, I hope there will be opportunities,” Krajinović commented.
The first glimpse of Troicki as a coach could occur earlier than Serbia’s next Davis Cup tie. Blic has reported that should the ATP Cup go ahead, he could be their team captain. Although this has not been confirmed.
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.
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