TENNIS 2015 DAVIS CUP – The Davis Cup World Group starts this weekend with the First Round which features some intriguing matches like Serbia with World Number 1 Novak Djokovic vs Croatia in Kraljevo, Great Britain (led by Andy Murray) vs Usa in Glasgow and Germany vs France. Kazakhstan hosts Italy in Astana. Reigning champions from Switzerland without Stan Wawrinka and Roger Federer will risk a first-round defeat against Belgium in Liege. Also interesting are the South-American derby between Argentina vs Brazil in Buenos Aires and Canada vs Japan with their top players Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori and Czech Republic vs Australia (with Aussie rising star Nick Kyrgios). Diego Sampaolo
Novak Djokovic will be in the spotlight when he returns to Davis Cup this weekend for the first round tie against Croatia at the Kraljevo Sports Centre. The World Number 1 will lead the home team which also features Viktor Troicki (winner this year in Sydney), Filip Krajnovic and doubles specialist Nenad Zimonjic.
Croatia will sadly miss 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic who has not recovered from injury. The Croatian hopes will be carried by rising star Borna Coric, who grabbed the headlines last week when he beat Andy Murray in the quarter finals in Dubai (his second top 10 win after last year’s victory over Rafa Nadal in Basel) before losing in the semifinal against Federer. Craoatia will be also represented by Marin Draganja and Mate Delic.
Serbia beat Croatia 4-1 in their previous match in 2010 in Split. Then Serbia went on to win the Davis Cup Trophy beating France in the final in Belgrade. This time Serbia will be looking to reach the quarter finals for the fifth time in the last six years.
Djokovic is unbeaten in his last seven appearances in the Davis Cup and suffered his last defeat in this event in 2011 against Juan Martin Del Potro.
Great Britain will host the US team in a re-match of the first round match played last year in San Diego. This year the Davis Cup classic between the two founding nations will be hosted in the Glasgow Emirates Arena on indoor hard-court. Andy Murray led the British team to win last year and will be the headliner at this year’s match in a British team which will be represented by Andy’s brother Jamie Murray, who will play the doubles match with Dominc Inglot against the multi-and second singles player James Ward. Lat year Great Britain returned to the Davis Cup quarter finals for the first time since 1986 thanks to the 3-1 win in San Diego. The US team leads 11-8 in the previous head-to-head matches against Great Britain. The founding nations of the Davis Cup played the first event match of this tournament in 1900 at the Longwood Cricket Ground in Boston. The US team won that match with 3-0. The US team won the 1937 final against Great Britain at Wimbledon. In 1978 the US team featuring John McEnroe (then a 19-year-old rising star) beat Great Britain 4-1.
The US team will be represented by John Isner (who was absent last year), Donald Young (recent finalist in Delray Beach) and the Bryan twin brothers, who won 16 Grand Slam doubles titles, 104 doubles wins and the Olympic gold medal. The Bryans could face Andy and Jamie Murray in the doubles match.
Murray will return to the Scottish city for a Davis Cup match for the first time since 2011 when he led Great Britain to a 5-0 win over Hungary in a Euroe/Africa Zone Group match. The Dunblane star is unbeaten in his Davis Cup appearances on the hard-court surface. Great Britain will be looking to win over the US team on home soil for the first time since 1935 when they won 5-0 at Wimbledon
“It should be a great atmosphere. We were told that the tickets were sold out in ten minutes. I imagine the atmosphere will be great”, said Murray.
The Glasgow clash will not be the only re-match of last year’s Davis Cup as Frankfurt will play host to the clash between neighbouring countries Germany and France. Last year France fought back from 0-2 down to beat Germany 3-2. France went on to reach the final where they lost to Switzerland in Lille. France will be represented by a strong team featuring Giles Simon, Gael Monfils and Nicolas Mahut (Australian Open doubles finalist this year) who will make his debut in the Davis Cup and doubles specialist Edouard Roger Vasselin who replaced Richard Gasquet, who has been sidelined by a back injury.
New German captain Michael Kohlmann has nominated Phillip Kohlshreiber, Benjamin Becker, Jan Lennard Struff and Andrè Begemann.
Germany will be looking to break the losing streak of seven consecutive defeats against the French team, who won nine Davis Cup titles. Germany beat France only twice in ten head-to-head matches in 1913 and 1938.
France has lost only once in the first round in the last 13 editions of the Davis Cup.
Italy, who reached the semifinals at last year’s edition of the Davis Cup, will face a tough task on the fast indoor hard court in Astana against Kazakhstan who is represented by former Russian players Mikhail Kukushkin, Andrei Golubev, Aleksander Nedovyesov and Andrei Popko. Kazakhstan narrowly lost 2-3 in the quarter final against eventual Davis Cup champions from Switzerland after taking a 2-1 lead in the doubles match. Kazakhstan has played in the World Group since 2011 and reached the quarter final three times
The Italian team features players who are in good form. Andreas Seppi reached the fourth round at the Australian Open after beating Roger Federer in the third round and reached the final in Zagreb. Simone Bolelli reached the semifinal in Marseille after taking his first top-10 win with his win against Milos Raonic. Fabio Fognini reached the final in Rio de Janiero after beating Rafa Nadal in the semifinal but lost against Carlos Berloq in Buenos Aires. Italian captain Corrazzo Barazzutti has also nominated Paolo Lorenzi. The three best Italian players (Fognini, Seppi and Bolelli) are better ranked than the best Kazakh player Michail Kukushkin (World Number 58) who has a 13-10 win-loss (13-9 in singles and 0-1 in doubles) record in his previous Davis Cup appearances and won the Sydney ATP 250 title beating Viktor Troicki last January. Golubev boasts a solid record in Davis Cup matches of 22 wins and 8 defeats (16-6 in singles and 6-2 in doubles) and won the Hamburg ATP title in 2010.
Italy and Kazakhstan will meet for the first time in the Davis Cup. At individual level Kukushkin leads 2-1 over Fognini and is 1-1 against Seppi but lost his three previous matches against Bolelli.
Another intriguing match will be the South American clash between Aregentina and Brazil in Buenos Aires in a tennis version of the classic football derby between the two powerhouses. The home team will be represented by Leandro Mayer, Federico Delbonis, Diego Schwartzmann and Carlos Berloq (semifinalist last week in the Buenos Aires ATP 250 in Buenos Aires). The Brazilian team will rely on a strong doubles featuring Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares who are favourites in the doubles match. Thomas Bellucci and Joao Sousa are the Brazilian singles players. Argentina leads 5-2 in the previous seven head-to-head matches between 1972 and 1980. The last Brazilian win dates back to 1975 but they have not won in Argentina. Brazil will be looking to qualify for the quarter finals for the first time since 2001. Argentina has qualified for the World Group every year since 2002 but they had to play the Play Off last year after losing against Italy 1-3 in the first round. Argentina lost three Davis Cup finals in 2006, 2008 and 2011.
A Swiss team without last year Davis Cup champions Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka will face a very hard task to avoid the Play-off when they play against Belgium in Liege. The home team will rely on World Number 21 David Goffin, Steve Darcis, Ruben Bemelmans and Niels Dessin. Severin Luthi has nominated Yann Marti, Adrien Bosset, Henri Laaskonen and Michael Lammer.
Czech Republic will host Australia in Ostrava in a match between past Davis Cup champions. The home team will be without Davis Cup legends Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek but will field Lukas Rosol, rising star Jiri Vezely, Jan Merti and Adam Pavlasek. Australia will be a mix of experienced players and rising stars with veteran Lleyton Hewitt, Australian Open quarter finalist Nick Kyrgios, Bernard Tomic and Sam Groth.
Two young top-ten Kei Nishikori (US Open finalist) and Milos Raonic (Wimbledon semifinalist) could square off against in the match between Canada and Japan in Vancouver. Canada, who reached the semifinals two years ago, will also field Vasek Pospisil, Frank Dancevic and Daniel Nestor (last week’s doubles champion in Dubai). Japan will feature Go Soeda, Tatsuma Ito and Yasutaka Uchiyama.
Canada will be looking to avenge last year’s 4-1 defeat against Japan at the Ariake Coliseum in Tokyo. The Asian team leads 6-0 in the previous head-to-head matches.
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
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.
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