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”.
Tennis Stars Voice Concerns Over Staging Tokyo Olympics
After being delayed by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, top players such as Naomi Osaka and Kei Nishikori still have reservations.
Japan’s top male tennis player Kei Nishikori has questioned how much preparation the IOC and local officials in his home country has prepared for a ‘worst-case’ scenario of hosting the Olympics.
The four-year event has already been postponed by 12 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic and some have called for the sporting extravaganza to be scrapped. Recently governors of nine Japanese prefectures said there should be an option to suspend or even cancel the Olympics altogether if cases in the region can’t be kept under control. Three of those governors are in charge of cities set to stage Olympic events.
Weighing in on the debate, former US Open finalist Nishikori raises doubts over how organisers plan to hold a safe event given the high number of athletes that will be present, which is an estimated 11,000. Japan has already said that overseas fans are banned and international athletes will not be able to bring relatives with them to minimise the risk.
“I don’t know what they are thinking, and I don’t know how much they are thinking about how they are going to make a bubble, because this is not 100 people like these tournaments,” Nishikori said after his first-round match at the Italian Open on Monday.
“It’s 10,000 people in the village. So I don’t think it’s easy, especially what’s happening right now in Japan. It’s not doing good. Well, not even (just) Japan. You have to think all over the world right now.”
The world No.45 expresses a view similar to the of four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka who said earlier this week that she was ‘not sure’ if the event should go ahead due to the current case numbers.
“I’m an athlete, and of course my immediate thought is that I want to play in the Olympics,” she said.
“But as a human, I would say we’re in a pandemic, and if people aren’t healthy, and if they’re not feeling safe, then it’s definitely a really big cause for concern.”
In the latest figures published by health officials, Tokyo reported 925 news cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday which is an increase of almost 400 compared to the previous day. Although Monday figures are usually low due to the closure of testing centres over the weekend. Tuesday’s number is higher compared to this time last week (609 cases) and two weeks ago (828 cases).
Besides the COVID-19 concerns, the prospect of having to go to the Games without a member of family could result in the absence of four-time gold medallist Serena Williams. The former world No.1 says she is undecided on playing the event and hasn’t been separated from her three-year-old daughter for more than 24 hours before.
“I haven’t spent 24 hours without her, so that kind of answers the question itself,” said Williams.
“I haven’t really thought much about Tokyo, because it was supposed to be last year and now it’s this year, and then there is this pandemic and there is so much to think about.
“Then there are the Grand Slams. It’s just a lot. So I have really been taking it one day at a time to a fault, and I definitely need to figure out my next moves.”
Besides athlete concerns, Olympic organisers are also facing falling public support. A recent poll conducted by newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun found that nearly 60% of respondents wanted the Games to be cancelled. Furthermore TBS news reported 65% of people surveyed in another poll wanted the event either cancelled or suspended again, with 37% supporting the cancellation and 28% in favour of suspension.
The Olympic tennis event is set to start on July 24th.
Top Tennis Tournaments Among 97 Events UK Sport Hopes To Host Over The Next Decade
A plan for the ‘greatest decade of extraordinary sporting moments’ in the UK has been published and tennis is among the sports officials are interested in.
The government agency responsible for investing in Olympic and Paralympic sport within Great Britain has said they could submit an application to host two team tennis events over the next decade.
UK Sport has labelled both the Billie Jean King Cup and Davis Cup Finals as an ‘opportunity’ for them to host in their 10-year strategic plan which will last until 2021. Overall the country is looking at the possibility of staging 97 events across 44 sports over the next 10 years. Those behind the plan believe such a move could generate a total of £7 billion for the UK economy. A live feasibility study is already underway for bidding to host the 2030 football World Cup, 2026 European Athletic Championships and more.
“Together we have achieved so much in Olympic and Paralympic sport. Nevertheless, we are very aware there is no room for complacency and that we must build on our success to create the next exciting phase of high-performance sport,” UK Sport chair Dame Katherine Grainger said in a statement.
“One where we work even more collaboratively and inclusively to keep winning and win well, in ways that will inspire more people and have a broader impact on our society.
“Achieving on the world stage will still sit firmly at the heart of what we do. But we should not underestimate the powerful platform that provides us with, and it is our shared responsibility to better harness this for positive social change.”
When it comes to both the Billie Jean King Cup and Davis Cup, UK Sport has categorized them as a mega event. Meaning they are ‘seen as the pinnacle of their sport at World level and which have significant staging costs, attract more than 100,000 live spectators, entail considerable delivery complexity and require extensive public funding and guarantee commitments.’ At present they have been labelled as an ‘opportunity’ by the agency. Meaning that no decision to bid to host them has been made yet but remains a good possibility.
The government made no reference to what venues could be used, especially regarding the tennis events which will require more than one court due to the change of the tournament in recent years. The finals of the team events now last for a week or so and are done initially in a group format before turning into a knock-out stage.
This year’s Davis Cup finals are taking place across three European cities. However, the women’s equivalent remains in doubt after the ITF ended their contract with the Hungarian Tennis Association who were meant to be holding the event. Hungary recently sent a letter saying it was no longer feasible to do so due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The UK is best known for its staging of the prestigious Wimbledon Championships, as well as other grass-court events. Furthermore, it also experienced great success in hosting the ATP Finals between 2009-2020 which attracted more than 2.8 million visitors during that period.
Davis Cup Finals To Become Three-City Event From 2021
Austria and Italy join Spain in hosting the finale of the men’s team competition.
The International Tennis Federation has approved a plan to transform the Davis Cup finals into a three-city event with it taking place over a longer duration.
Starting from 2021 the finals of the 121-year-old men’s team competition will be held across three European venues which are set to have ‘similar conditions.’ Madrid, who hosted the event back in 2019, will remain the location for both the semi-finals and finals. Additionally, Turin in Italy and Innsbruck in Austria will co-host the event with each of them staging two of the six groups, as well as one quarter-final.
The development is the latest change made by the ITF in partnership with Kosmos, who have pledged to invest $3 billion in the sport over a 25-year period. Kosmos is the key driving force being the recent transformation of the competition and was founded by footballer Gerard Pique.
“The proposals announced in January were aimed at providing a better schedule for players while bringing the competition to new audiences and improving the experience for fans. Following a thorough bid process, we are delighted to be able to confirm Innsbruck and Turin as co-hosts alongside Madrid. We are confident that, together, they will deliver an outstanding world championship event for players and fans alike.” ITF Senior Executive Director, Professional Tennis, Kris Dent, said in a statement.
As a result of Turin’s and Innsburk’s inclusion in the finals, the competition has been extended from seven days to 11 days. A total of 18 teams are set to take part in the finals which wasn’t held last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. From next year the number of teams will be reduced to 16. The ITF confirmed the schedule of tournaments will be issued in the ‘coming weeks.’
Former French Open champion Albert Costa says the two cities have been selected to ‘ensure a smooth transition’ between countries for players. Costa, who is Director of the Davis Cup Finals, has stressed that the conditions of each venue are similar to each other.
”We are very excited to bring the Davis Cup Finals to Innsbruck and Turin. Both cities submitted impressive bids that not only promise a world class experience for players and fans, but also include stringent measures to ensure the health and safety of all in attendance,” said Costa.
“It was important to find two European cities that were well connected to Madrid, with similar playing conditions, to provide a smooth transition for players travelling from other venues. With confirmation of the three venues, we are already working hard to offer the best possible event in 2021. We are also liaising closely with the Region of Madrid and the City Council as thanks to their support, Madrid remains as the main venue for this year.”
There are questions about if the move will be enough to attract the top names. Due to the extension, the event will result in the off-season being reduced by a week. A key period for many players who used it for training.There are also questions about the decision to launch a multi-county tournament this year during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic will each country having their own rules.
The Davis Cup finals are set to take place between November 25th and December 5th.
Venues of 2021 Davis Cup Finals
Madrid Arena, Madrid (ESP)
- Group A: Spain, Russian Tennis Federation (RTF), Ecuador
- Group B: Canada, Kazakhstan, Sweden
- Quarter-finals: Winner Group A v group runner-up; Winner Group B v group runner-up
- Semi-finals and final
Olympia-Halle, Innsbruck (AUT)
- Group C: France, Great Britain, Czech Republic
- Group F: Serbia, Germany, Austria
- Quarter-final: Winner Group C v Winner Group F
Pala Alpitour Arena, Turin (ITA)
- Group D: Croatia, Australia, Hungary
- Group E: USA, Italy, Colombia
- Quarter-final: Winner Group D v Winner Group E
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