TENNIS – The Stade Pierre Mauroy will be the stage for the eagerly-awaited Davis Cup Final between France and Switzerland from Friday to Sunday. The Draw took place at the Chambre de Commerce in Lille. Stan Wawrinka will face Jo Wilfred Tsonga in the opening match on Friday afternoon. Roger Federer will take on Gael Monfils in the second singles match. Diego Sampaolo
France and Switzerland will square off against in the Davis Cup for the 12th time in front of 27000 spectators. The French team won 10 of their previous 12 head-to-head matches in this event. Switzerland won their only matches in 1992 in the quarter finals in Nimes with 3-2 and in 2003 again in the quarter finals in Toulouse with 3-2. France won their most recent match in 2004 when Nicolas Escudé won the fifth rubber match to clinch the 3-2 win in the quarter finals. France made its last appearance in a final in 2010 when They lost to Serbia 2-3 in Belgrade. In that match Michael Llodra fell to Viktor Troicki in the decisive fifth singles match
France qualified to the final with a 5-0 win over Australia in the first round, followed by a 3-2 win over Germany in the quarter finals and a 4-1 win over Czech Republic in the semifinal. Switzerland beat Serbia 3-2 in the first round before two more 3-2 wins over Kazakhstan in the quarter final and Italy in the semifinal.
Stan Wawrinka and Jo Wilfred Tsonga will open the programme on Friday afternoon. Tsonga leads over Wawrinka with 3-2 in their previous head-to-head matches but they are tied 2-2 on clay, the surface where the Davis Cup Final will be played. They have not met for 18 months. In their last match Wawrinka won a quarter final on clay in Madrid in May 2013.
In the second match Roger Federer will face Gael Monfils in a re-match of the US Open quarter final where the Swiss legend recovered from two sets down to win in five sets with 4-6 3-6 6-4 7-5 6-2. In this match Federer had to save two match points. In the other previous match played in 2014 Federer beat Monfils 6-4 4-6 6-3 in the Round of 16 in Cincinnati. Federer leads over Monfils 8-2 in their previous head-to-head matches and 4-0 on clay.
On Saturday Benneteau and Gasquet will play against Marco Chiudinelli and Michael Lammer.
Federer will face Tsonga in the first reverse rubber on Sunday afternoon. Federer leads 11-5 over Tsonga in their previous head-to-head matches and leads 2-1 on clay. This year Federer beat Tsonga in the Round of 16 at the Australian Open and in the quarter finals in Monte-Carlo but the Frenchman won their last match in the Toronto Master 1000 final last August.
The second reverse rubber match will be played between Wawrinka and Monfils. They tied 2-2 in their previous head-to-head matches but they never squared off against on clay.
The home team will be bidding to their 10th Davis Cup Trophy and their first since 2001. The French team played their last Davis Cup Final in 2010 when they lost 3-2 against Serbia in Belgrade. If the home team wins this weekend, they will overtake Great Britain as the third most successful team in history behind the USA (32 titles) and Australia (28).
The Swiss team are looking to win their first ever Davis Cup Trophy in their first final since 1992 when the red-crossed team formed by Jakob Hlasek and Marc Rosset lost 1-3 in Fort Worth against a star-studded US team formed by André Agassi, Pete Sampras, Jim Courier, John McEnroe
While the strong French team can count on the extraordinary depth with five players ranked inside the top-30 in the world ranking: Jo Wilfred Tsonga, Gael Monfils, Julien Benneteau, Richard Gasquet and reserve player Giles Simon, Swiss hopes will be carried by two formidable top-4 players Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka who played a hard-fought semifinal at the ATP World Tour Finals in London.
There is a question mark on Federer’s fitness after the Swiss Maestro was forced to withdraw from last Sunday’s Final in London against Novak Djokovic because of a back injury.
Federer trained on Wednesday evening and on Thursday afternoon and seems to be recovered from the back injury and ready to play against Monfils on Friday afternoon.
“It was not good enough to practice yesterday. I wish progress would be faster but we are trying hard. We are heading in that direction. It’s definitely better that it was on Saturday. Baby steps. I am hopeful. I cannot give any percentage As long as you are not on court practicing, you have no references. I am making some progress but I don’t have a month ahead of me to get better. I need to get better quickly. I am trying to get better”, said Federer at the press conference in Lille on Tuesday.
Federer was asked about the ill feeling between him and Wawrinka after their epic and tense semifinal in London.
“We had a conversation after the match. Everything is totally relaxed about the situation. We have Severin as a coach and Davis Cup coach and friend who was there. There are no hard feelings whatsoever. We are having a good time here. We are friends, not enemies. It was probably one of the heat-of the moment situations. I don’ think from this point forward there is much to say about it anymore”, said Federer
Federer will be looking to add the Davis Cup Trophy to his 17 Grand Slam titles, his six ATP Finals wins and his Master 1000 wins. The Davis Cup is one of the very few missing titles from his impressive collections. If he wins the Davis Cup, he will join many tennis legends who triumphed in this tournament. The long list features Fred Perry, Rod Laver, Arthur Ashe, Bjorn Borg, Boris Becker, Mats Wilander, Pete Sampras, André Agassi, John McEnroe, Stefan Edberg, Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
Federer won all his five singles matches this year and boasts a 48-16 career record in all his Davis Cup singles matches. He could overtake Jakob Hlasek as the most successful Swiss player in this event
This weekend’s final could be one of the last chances for the Swiss team to lift the Davis Cup Trophy after a formidable year for both Federer and Wawrinka. Federer won five ATP titles and played in 11 finals ending the year in second place behind Novak Djokovic. Wawrinka won his first ever Grand Slam title at the Australian Open and his first Master 1000 title in Monte-Carlo. Wawrinka owns a 20-13 record in singles matches Wawrinka contributed to the 3-2 win in the semifinal against Italy in the semifinal in Geneva with his singles win over Fabio Fognini.
French captain Arnoud Clement has named two top-20 players Jo Wilfred Tsonga (World Number 12) and Gael Monfils (19). Tsonga beat Federer in the Toronto Master 1000 Final last August. Monfils reached two Grand Slam quarter finals this year at the French Open and the US Open.
Gasquet contributed significantly to the French win against Czech Republic in the semifinal held last July on the Phillip Chatrier court, the venue of the Roland Garros in Paris last September, with a singles win over Tomas Berdych in three sets before teaming up Tsonga in the doubles.
Clement nominated Julien Benneteau, who is ranked World Number 25 in singles and Number 5 in doubles. Benneteau could be very important in the doubles match. He won the doubles title at the Roland Garros together with Edouard Roger-Vasselin and reached the semifinals in the doubles at the ATP Finals in London last week.
France won nine titles and lost seven finals in the previous 16 final appearances in the Davis Cup. The first French triumph dates back to 1927 with a team formed by Henry Lacoste, Jean Borotra, Henry Cochet and Jacques Brugnon.
Borotra, Cochet and Brugnon won five more titles between 1928 and 1932. Fifty-nine years after France triumphed against the USA on home soil with 3-1 in Lyon with a team formed by Guy Forget, Henry Leconte, Arnaud Boetsch and Fabrice Santoro. Two more titles followed in 1996 in Malmoe when they beat Sweden 3-2 (Guy Forget, Arnaud Boetsch and Fabrice Santoro) and 2001 when they beat Australia 3-2 in Melbourne (Cedric Pioline, Fabrice Santoro, Nicolas Escudé, Sebastian Grosjean and Arnaud Clement.
Clement will be bidding to win the Davis Cup first as player and then as coach of the French team.
Federer and Wawrinka won the Olympic doubles title in Beijing in 2008 but they have rarely played together since then. In Davis Cup their doubles record is 2-4 when they played together. They are 16-10 in all competitions.
The Stade Pierre Mauroy will play host to the much-awaited Davis Cup Final in front of 27000 enthusiastic fans. The Stadium with its retractable roof is home to the Lille Metropole Football Team and hosted matches of the UEFA Champion’s League and a rugby test match between France and Argentina. The Stade Pierre Mauroy is named after the Mayor of Lille from 1973 to 2001 and served as Prime Minister in the Government of French President Francois Mitterrand. in the early to mid-1990s
“The stadium is beautiful. That’s the first thing that strikes you. It’s very big. It’s wonderful to be able to play on such a court”, said Richard Gasquet.
“There has been a great excitement especially since the semifinal in Roland Garros when we qualified. When the players came here, they were very eager to see the stadium. My players have been training together during the past 10 days in Bordeaux. Julien came and joined us after the ATP Finals in London . He is very fit and adapted very well to the clay”, said French captain Arnoud Clement.
Arnaud Clement was asked if the uncertainty concerning Roger Federer’s fitness could change the French team. “We are not thinking that Roger will not play on Friday. We have been preparing for 10 days and we are prepared to play the Swiss team with Federer and Wawrinka. Many people asked about Federer, even before Federer pulled out on Sunday. What we are going to play is not Federer’s team, it is the Swiss team. They have good players. This is the reason we we are preparing for the past 10 days because we want to be at our best to beat that team, which is the favourite for the time being”.
(Exclusive) Albert Costa: “Davis Cup Finals Are Going To Remain The Best Of Three Sets”
Last week at the Barcelona Open during one of the many suspensions due to the rainy weather UbiTennis had a chat with 2002 French Open champion Albert Costa in the elegant clubhouse of the Real Club de Tennis de Barcelona.
By Federico Bertelli, translated by Kingsley Elliot Kaye
Born in Lleida, Albert Costa grew up as a tennis player at the Real Club de Tennis de Barcelona and also won the tournament in 1997. When he retired from tennis he became the director of the tournament until three years ago when he handed it over to David Ferrer. One of the best stands on the centre court takes his name. Until the 1980s the tennis stadium was the Spanish team’s Davis Cup home.
Now, after stepping down from his role at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell, Albert Costa has become tournament director of the Davis Cup which is now advertised as “The World Cup of Tennis.”
UBITENNIS: Players have asked to be able conclude their season before playing the Davis Cup. As a result, the group ties which will determine the eight quarter finalists have been moved to September and the final knockout stage will unfold over five days. What can you tell us about this? Is it going to be a definitive format?
Albert Costa: It hasn’t been confirmed yet but likely it will be six days starting on Tuesday until Sunday. It is not yet agreed with ITF but, as organisers of the event, our intention is to play from Tuesday to Sunday at the end of November. As far as the future is concerned, we are trying to find the best solution. We are aware that the first years will require some fine tuning but I believe that in the next one or two years we’re going to reach a consolidated format, which will enable us to work comfortably and to give certainty to our stakeholders.
UBITENNIS: In 2022 and 2023 the Davis Cup will be played in Malaga. Can you tell us anything more about the selection process, considering that last year they were speaking about Abu Dhabi and then at the beginning of 2022 a neutral location was being considered?
Albert Costa: Actually we were in negotiations with Abu Dhabi, there was a concrete proposal. Then Malaga came up with a very attractive proposal and at that point we considered other factors which led us to choose the latter: tennis tradition and culture are at a different level in Spain and this was an aspect that drove Kosmos to choose Malaga. Other considerations are involved as well: an easier destination to reach for tennis fans. Europe is the centre of tennis in terms of countries and players, the ATP finals are played indoors in Turin. This last aspect is particularly relevant: in fact it is very simple to move to Malaga just a few days later and the environment is similar. Besides, Malaga is a city which is growing very fast and sees Davis Cup as an opportunity to gain visibility and to pair with its tourism.
UBITENNIS: The first edition of Davis Cup with the new format was played at the Caja Magica in Madrid, where the Mutua Madrid Open usually takes place. One of the advantages of the facilities is the possibility to use the three indoor courts simultaneously. Has the idea of playing simultaneous matches been put aside? Playing more than one match at the same time could allow them to go back to the 5-set format like in the old Davis Cup.
Albert Costa: I know very well the format of the former Davis Cup, but we have ruled out going back to five set matches. We haven’t taken into consideration the option of playing simultaneously.
UBITENNIS: But with the current three match format, the double counts very much, much more than before; amazing runs like those of Djokovic or Murray, who a few years ago carried their teams on their shoulders and led them to victory, now would no longer be possible.
Albert Costa: It’s true. With the new format, having a great number one isn’t enough. You need a balanced team with a good doubles. But in this way the format makes competition tighter and more open and potentially there is a great number of teams that can win the trophy. This makes it all more exciting. For instance Serbia, in spite of having Djokovic, who has dominated tennis over the last years, hasn’t yet succeeded in winning the Davis Cup with the new format.
UBITENNIS: Summing up, the 3-match format, two singles and one doubles, isn’t going to change.
Albert Costa: Yes, I confirm this is the direction we are taking: 3 matches in one day.
UBITENNIS: Speaking about the calendar, which are your expectations in terms of public, now that tennis fans have got two months to make arrangements for going to watch their team? Last year it was very complicated since the teams qualified for the quarter finals were known only one week before they actually played.
Albert Costa: Now it’s much easier. We are going to work with travel agencies in order to set up interesting packages. We are also going to work with the national federations in this direction. We are aware that environment and support are the distinguishing traits that make Davis Cup so special. Our target for 2022 is to have at least 1000 supporters for each team cheering their players from the stands. The environment is definitely one of the key factors to success. This means that we want at least 8000 supporters coming from the different countries for the final eight. If Spain were to reach this stage, the number would be even higher. Then we have to add the neutral public that simply comes in to enjoy tennis. Our idea is to create an experience which combines Davis Cup with the possibility to have a trip to the Mediterranean and enjoy the city.
UBITENNIS: The old format was no longer viable. For many players winning Davis Cup once in their career was enough, whereas Majors are never enough. How do you think you can succeed in attracting the best players to always play Davis Cup?
Albert Costa: when I used to play from 1995 to 2005, I remember that the players were already asking to change the format. It was impossible to dedicate four weeks to the Davis Cup, which often involved moving to different surfaces from the Tour schedule. With the new format the workload is different. The players of a team that reaches the final stage have to invest three weeks. In terms of surfaces and event preparation it’s all much simpler: the final stage of Davis Cup is played indoors, just like the rest of the indoor season. As the matches are played best of three sets the players are much less impacted in terms of physical engagement, which is an excellent thing considering the increasing amount of injuries we’ve seen recently. It’s true that in the past many players were content with contributing to winning one Davis Cup only. We aim at providing a comfortable scheduling so that players will be eager to participate every year.
UBITENNIS: Wouldn’t the event be made more legendary if at least in the final the matches were played best of five sets?
Albert Costa: I understand the historical point of view, but also the finals of the ATP Masters 1000 and of the ATP Finals were played best of five sets and now things have changed. Especially with the stress, both physical and mental, which modern tennis brings in. Players are already pushing their limits. It’s already three matches, which means at least six hours of competition. It’s enough both for the public and for the players. I believe that the value of a Davis Cup victory cannot be measured on the basis of the physical toll paid by players. It’s the overall value of the team that ought to be rewarded, which is also the reason why it is fair that the most well-balanced teams, with a strong number 1, a good number 2 and a good doubles, are the most likely to win.
UBITENNIS: Under a communication profile the claim that has been delivered since 2019 is that it’s a World Cup of Tennis. This theme has already been broadly discussed, but I’d still like to hear your opinion as a former player.
Albert Costa: Before the format we used to play with, home and away ties, Davis Cup was like America’s Cup, where the winner of the previous edition waited for the challenger selection series. Changes are in the order of things. I believe that going towards a World Cup type of format, with a group stage and a knockout stage is an excellent solution.
UBITENNIS: A last question: until 2023 everything is scheduled, in terms of format and location. For 2024 could there be an agreement with ATP Cup?
Albert Costa: We are working at it. Having Davis Cup at the end of November and ATP Cup at the beginning of January doesn’t make much sense. Kosmos and the other parties involved have to get into talks. We’re trying. Let’s see what comes out of it.
REPORT: Valencia To Host Group Stage Of Davis Cup Finals As Part Of Five-Year Deal
It is understood that negotiations are at an advanced stage and an announcement could be made very soon.
The Spanish city of Valencia has been chosen as the fourth and final host of the group stages of the Davis Cup Finals, according to two separate media sources.
Regional newspaper Las Provincias has reported that negotiations have been ongoing between officials in the region and Kosmos, the investment company who oversees the running of the tournament. It has been reported that talks between the two are at an ‘advance’ stage with it only being a matter of time before a deal is finalized.
An announcement is expected to be made as early as this week that Valencia has signed a five-year deal to host the Davis Cup. However, the venue of where the event will be hosted is still to be confirmed. One of the options is the bullring known as the Plaza de Toros de Valencia which has staged numerous Davis Cup ties in the past. However, another venue may seem more suitable considering the time of year and the fact four teams are taking part.
Valencia’s rumoured appointment fills in the gap left by Malaga who have been named host of the knockout finals in November after initially being awarded the chance to hold one of the four group stages along with Glasglow, Bologna and Hamburg. Malaga will also host the finale in 2023 as well. Making it the fourth time in a row the finale of the event has been held in Spain.
News outlet Levante–EMV has also confirmed Valencia’s intention to host the team event and say officials have already expressed a desire to one day host the knock-out stages in November. Although there is no guarantee that will happen.
The development comes shortly after France pulled out of the bidding process due to what they described as ‘onerous’ financial and operational conditions which none of their potential organizers was willing to accept. France was initially excluded from the hosting process and filed a case to the Court of Arbitration in March for Sport (CAS) saying the decision was unfair. However, a month later they were allowed to take part. It is unclear as to why they were initially excluded.
Davis Cup officials are yet to publicly comment on Valencia’s appointment but it is expected that they will do so very soon. In their latest communication, organizers said they plan to announce the fourth host of the group stages, which is said to be Valencia, before the draw takes place on April 26th.
The group stages of the 2022 Davis Cup Finals will take place from 14-18 September. Each group will consist of four teams with ties being a best-of-three rubbers taking place on the same day. The top two teams from each group will then progress to the knockout stages which will take place between November 23-27.
Davis Cup: France Excluded From Hosting Tie, Overturns Decision And Then Pulls Out Over ‘Onerous Conditions’
During the first quarter of 2022 a dispute prompted France to take legal action but details of what happened are still unclear.
Tennis can sometimes be a confusing business and France’s current relationship with the International Tennis Federation relating to the Davis Cup is a prime example of this.
On Monday the French Tennis Federation (FFT) issued a statement publicly confirming that they had been in a legal dispute with the ITF over their right to hold a Davis Cup tie this year. The fallout was prompted by a decision that France, who has won the Davis Cup 10 times, was excluded from the bidding process to host one of the four group stages. It is still unclear as to why the country was deemed ineligible with no public comment being made. Especially with France being one of the 12 teams to qualify for this year’s finals.
Subsequently the FFT took on the ITF and Kosmos, who oversees the running of the team competition. On March 16th they filed an appeal of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) arguing that their exclusion was unfair. However, less than a month later (April 8th) France was once again included in the bidding process following the withdrawal of a host city from the group stages. Five days later the ITF confirmed that Malaga would be hosting the knockout stages of the Davis Cup Finals in November instead of the group stages in September. Leaving a venue vacant.
“The new procedure put in place by the ITF and Kosmos has taken into account the criticisms made by the FFT in the course of its submissions before CAS, by providing clear and transparent deadlines for applications and the stages of the procedure,” the FFT said in a statement.
“Although the FFT is pleased to note that the ITF and Kosmos have taken its objections into account in this new bidding process and to have the merits of its arguments confirmed as regards the defects in the original bidding process, it regrets having been forced to file a legal appeal before CAS to assert its rights.“
Ironically, France won their argument to be involved in the selection process without the CAS having their final say. However, there would be another twist to the somewhat confusing plot which still has gaps in the story.
Today the FFT confirmed that they no longer want to take part in the process due to what they perceive as obligations so severe that no potential organizer in the country was willing to accept. They didn’t elaborate on what those conditions are. Although it is assumed that they have been accepted by Great Britain, Italy and Germany. The countries who will host three out of the four group stages.
“After finally being able to review the complete specifications in the designation of the host cities of the Davis Cup Group Stages, the FFT has decided not to submit a bid in view of the onerous financial and operational conditions which no potential organizer in the French territory was willing to accept,” they said.
“From a legal point of view, having been recognized in its right to participate in the bidding process for the designation of the Davis Cup host cities, the FFT has decided to withdraw its action before the CAS today since it no longer has any purpose.”
The extraordinary fiasco also raises questions about the FFT’s statement and their decision to go as far as saying that hosting conditions are ‘onerous’ in their view. It is just a case of them expressing their views or is it a warning to others?
The timing of the FFT’s statement coincided with claims that Kosmos, who is the principle financial investor in the Davis Cup, made millions in relation to their involvement in the relocation of the Spanish Super Cup to Saudi Arabia. According to El Confidencial, the company negotiated a payment of 4M euros for each of the six tournaments to be played in the country from 2020. Barcelona footballer Gerard Pique is the founder of Kosmos. He has not been accused of committing any misconduct, but is alleged to have received preferential treatment during the deal.
“Pique had a key role in the negotiations for the Spanish Super Cup to be hosted in Saudi Arabia, and throughout this process enjoyed preferential treatment from (federation president) Luis Rubiales, for reasons yet to be determined. A spokesperson for Pique has denied that he received any special treatment,” El Confidencial wrote on Monday.
According to the latest information, it is expected that a fourth host for the Davis Cup Group stage will be announced before the draw for the Finals on 26 April.
There has been no public response by either the ITF or Kosmos regarding the FFT’s statement.
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