Davis Cup Final: Belgium vs Great Britain
Sunday, November 29, 2015
A. MURRAY/D. Goffin
6-3, 7-5, 6-3
Great Britain – 3
Belgium – 1
An interview with:
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Andy, you’ve always rated your Olympic triumph as arguably the favorite of your career. How does that compare having the whole team around you?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, it’s obviously an amazing feeling. You know, I imagine it will take a few days before it really sinks in.
But, yeah, I mean, probably haven’t been as emotional as that after a match that I’ve won. I’ve been pretty upset having lost matches before. But I’d say that’s probably the most emotional I’ve been after a win.
It’s incredible that we managed to win this competition. I didn’t know that would ever be possible. It’s great.
Q. Andy, since the summer, it seems like this has been what you’ve really set your heart on winning. At what stage of the year did you think that this was really, really possible?
ANDY MURRAY: I think after the France tie, to be honest. I think that was an incredibly tough match to win. They got four guys that are in the top 20 in the world pretty much. They obviously had Mahut that played the doubles. But Tsonga, Simon, Gasquet, Monfils. They have a great team with a lot of top players. They made the Final last year.
I think after we won that match, the match against Simon was incredibly tough mentally and physically for me. I found that match extremely difficult. Once we got through that, I really felt like we had a chance to do it.
Q. Leon, you sat courtside and watched all of Andy’s wins this year. Where do you think his year in Davis Cup ranks in British sporting achievement?
CAPTAIN SMITH: Has to be one of the best achievements of all time. I mean, it’s incredible for all of us to watch how he’s managed to win that many rubbers, that many wins, especially when you look back at the tie in France and also the Australia match, obviously a lot of fatigue, managed to find a way through.
It was absolutely incredible, amazing.
Q. Leon, other sports have been recognized for lesser achievements arguably than this one. When do you think it’s time for Britain to make its first British tennis knighthood and would the man to your left be a candidate?
JAMIE MURRAY: You’re up for that, aren’t you, Leon?
CAPTAIN SMITH: Me or him (smiling)?
Look, you’re asking the wrong guy because I hold Andy in the absolutely highest esteem. I can’t talk high enough about him. I could go on and on and talk for the next hour about him.
He’s just incredible. But he’ll be the first to say that this is a team effort, and rightly so. What he’s managed to do for this team is astonishing, to post that many wins in one year. He’s put his whole body, his whole mind on the line every single time for the team. Really it’s incredible. We’re all grateful and proud of him.
I know he’ll say it’s about the team, but we are really thankful for what he does.
Q. Was it a late night last night, Andy, or did you manage to stay up for the boxing?
ANDY MURRAY: I did watch the boxing last night, yeah. I was in bed probably by 11:00. But, yeah, I managed to find a stream of the boxing online and I watched it, yeah.
Q. Andy, how vital has Leon’s contribution been to the team over the last five years? Do you think he deserves a knighthood?
ANDY MURRAY: Look, I think everyone deserves one (laughter).
I mean, obviously since Leon has become captain, I think the results, you know, you don’t need to talk about it, you just look at the results and see where we’ve come from.
I remember speaking to Leon before he got the job. I was saying that now is a great time to have a young British team, British captain with young British coaches that love the game, that really want us to do well. It’s pretty much been the same team for the whole time. A few people have been added to as we’ve got further in the competition. But I think, you know, all of the staff have done genuinely an amazing job. The attention to detail is fantastic. Everyone has played a big part. And all of the other players, as well.
Leon is obviously responsible for bringing everybody together as a team and having everyone sort of, I don’t know, perform their roles as best they can. I think you’ve seen by the performances of like James in the match against the USA, even Kyle in the first match here, and all of the doubles rubbers this year. Even like before then, the match against Russia and stuff, which may not be talked about right now, but they’re very relevant, a match where James and Dan had big, big wins.
Yeah, Leon and his team are responsible for getting us to play at that level so consistently and deserve a lot of credit for that.
Q. Leon, five years ago the British team played in Group II of the European African Zone. Did it look like ‘Mission Impossible’ to get to this stage or not?
CAPTAIN SMITH: Obviously at that point there was a long way to go. But we set about, as Andy just very well described there, just getting a really good team of people around that really cared about everybody in the team and wanted what’s best for them. Even lower divisions, might not have been the most glamorous of ties, but it was very important to start winning.
You went match by match, tie by tie, and tried for the whole team to get better at what we do together. Momentum was built and it came to some important ties. I think like the Slovakia tie, the Russia tie, started to get a bit more belief about the players. Yeah, it continued from there.
Obviously when we started to move towards World Group territory, it’s important to have the highest quality. Andy, when he comes into that, brings us that quality that suddenly became a reality.
Q. Andy, what you and Leon have just said, can you describe your emotions on that winning point? It was the end of a very long, hard road for all of you.
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, obviously it was a nice point to finish on. Yeah, you’re not thinking about loads. You can’t believe you’ve just won a major competition. That’s it basically. You know, you’re just thinking that, We just won. That was it. There’s no more to it than that.
It’s not like, you know, I’m thinking about the year as a whole. It’s literally just that moment there when you just hit the winning shot and won the match. Yeah, it’s nice that you get to see all of your team immediately afterwards, which isn’t always the case.
But, yeah, that was it. Nothing more than that.
Q. Andy, how much does the sense of doing it for the country change that emotion, the pressure, expectation, and the unique circumstances of this type of crowd?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, I mean, it obviously does change things. I think the rest of the year when you’re playing, you don’t get atmospheres like that in any event that we play during the year except during Davis Cup. That’s what happens when you get your country involved, people become more passionate. I think that’s the same for all of the players, as well.
That’s why the level of play I think is so high. I think Goffin played a good match today. I think it was a good match today. I can’t remember loads about it. But most of the players play at an extremely high level and I think it is because there is a bit more passion there when you’re competing for your country.
Q. You’re the first player in 20 years to win three live matches in a final. The last guy to do that was somebody as revered as Sampras. How did you feel out there? Was the adrenaline really flowing and keeping you going? Did you feel tired? What does it feel now to be in the same sentence as Pete Sampras?
ANDY MURRAY: Yeah, that’s obviously nice.
You know, like when I was out there, I mean, I was pumped the whole match, right from the beginning right through to the end. The crowd obviously helped with that. I didn’t really have any, I don’t think, lulls in my level. Maybe the game I got broken at the beginning of the third slightly.
But, yeah, I was just really, really pumped the whole match, really, really focused. Yeah, I just wanted to try and win that final point. Yeah, obviously to have won all of the singles matches I played this year is great. I’m glad I was able to help the team.
But, yeah, I knew a little bit about it because I’ve been asked. There’s only been I think two players that had won eight singles. I’d been asked about it. I didn’t know about that until coming into the tie. So to do that, you know, is obviously nice. It doesn’t happen too often. I’m proud of that, yeah.
Q. Andy, pretty notable weekend for British sport. What does it mean to you to be a big part of that? Did staying up and watching the boxing inspire you a bit?
ANDY MURRAY: I always get a bit nervous watching boxing, especially watching heavyweights. It probably wasn’t the smartest thing for me to do last night.
Yeah, I’m obviously happy to be part of a great weekend of sport. But, yeah, I didn’t need any inspiration this weekend. I didn’t need that from a boxer or anything else. I think that’s the case for all of the team. This competition, winning the event for all of us was enough.
Q. Andy, a question about the big four. You are the last member of the big four to win the Davis Cup. Is it a special feeling to win it after Nadal, Djokovic and Federer?
ANDY MURRAY: I haven’t thought about it like that. I think for all of the team it’s obviously great to have a Davis Cup next to our name. We’ll all remember this year for the rest of our lives, regardless of what happens in the rest of any of our careers. Nothing may ever top this now. Hopefully we can win it again next year or we can go on to win Grand Slams and Wimbledon or Olympics and stuff.
But, you know, this will definitely be the highlight, one of the highlights, of all of our careers. So we have to make sure we enjoy tonight and the next couple of days because I know how much hard work and effort goes into moments like this. You don’t want to let it pass by without enjoying it.
Q. Andy, the passion that you showed was very moving there. Was it passion for the team triumph or was it very much passion for the country?
ANDY MURRAY: I mean, I don’t know. I think it’s a combination of everything really. Always when I’ve played Davis Cup, since the first time, when I was 17, it was a completely different team to now, I was unbelievably passionate, and I loved it. When I played doubles against Israel, I loved that. That hasn’t changed.
But also I know this team extremely well. Because we’ve been together for such a long time, there’s a stronger bond probably between us than there has been in the past. And I think all of the players, you know, get on with each other, respect each other. Yeah, a lot of us are close friends.
It means a lot to do it with them.
Q. Jamie, where does this fit into your career now? What are your plans for celebrations with everyone?
JAMIE MURRAY: It’s huge for me. By far the biggest achievement in my career. I mean, I’ve had an amazing season. This is an unbelievable way to cap it off.
As for celebrations, I don’t know. I think we’re going to Nobu tomorrow night. That’s about it. That’s all I know.
Q. Andy, a question about the fab four stopped playing Davis Cup or they don’t play so often after they won it. Do you face it as a problem for Davis Cup, the format should be changed to have all the best players all the time? Are you going to play Davis Cup matches all the time, or sometimes yes and sometimes no?
ANDY MURRAY: I don’t mind the format. I think the format’s good. I just think the timing sometimes is what is difficult. You know, obviously immediately after the slams is tough, which is after Wimbledon this year, and also after the US Open. Also now you’re the last ones to finish in the year.
For me it isn’t so much the format because if you look at the ties we played this year, I mean, the atmosphere in every one of them has been I think exceptional. If you change the format, you lose that a little bit.
But I think that the timing is really what’s the issue because the players, they put so much effort into the Grand Slams, the Davis Cup comes immediately after them, you’re pretty tired at the end of the slams. Most of the top players are going right through to the end of the majors. Slams are stressful, they’re draining, physically and mentally. I think that’s where the issue is a little bit.
Q. Wardy, what was it like backstage sort of not being able to walk it on court? Can you and Kyle put your personal highlights of this run, a five-year run?
JAMES WARD: Obviously I was waiting back in the locker room ready to play if needed. Thankful to Andy I wasn’t today.
Yeah, it’s always tough. You got to prepare like you’re going to play. You never know what could happen. Even when he was two sets up, I was still not wanting to go out in case he looked at me and snapped and thought, He thinks it’s over already. So, yeah, I left it till the last minute to come out.
Overall it’s been a long journey. I was there in the first tie with Leon in Eastbourne. Been pretty much present in every tie, which has been a great achievement for myself personally. But to be part of the team as well is an amazing feeling, something that is well-deserved for all of us.
Q. Kyle, not many people make their debuts in a tie which brings the Davis Cup home. How have the last couple of days been? Do you think this will give you a boost going into next season as well?
KYLE EDMUND: Yeah, it’s been a really good experience for me, something that I’ll learn from. I’m still obviously young. This type of experience on the world stage, it can’t get any better. It can only be a positive for me. For me personally, for my match, so much stuff I can take away from it, so many positives I’ve learnt from it.
Yeah, going into next season it just reinforces what I need to work on, what I’m doing well, and it sets me up well for the start of the season.
Q. Leon, what happens to you now? Are you going to stay on or negotiate a new contract for anything? What is your situation?
CAPTAIN SMITH: You should come with me to that meeting (smiling).
No, as Andy said, I think it’s really important to enjoy this moment right now. It is a very, very special moment for all of us. Yeah, we’ll just soak up the next couple of days as a team together, really enjoy it, then we’ll see what happens after that.
But it’s really not important. Just now what’s important is what’s been achieved. It’s monumental. I’m so proud of every single player and the staff that’s played a part. I really want to enjoy it and then we’ll figure it out after that.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports
Rev #1 by #168 at 2015-11-29 17:49:00 GMT
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
Reigning Champion Simona Halep Pulls Out Of Wimbledon
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Lorenzo Sonego reaches the semifinal in Eastbourne
Dominic Thiem Vows ‘To Come Back Stronger’ Following Wrist injury Diagnosis
Rafael Nadal Addresses French Open Seeding Criticism
Roger Federer Says Having ‘High Goals’ Motivates Him To Continue Playing
‘Exhausted’ Rafael Nadal Taking A Break To Avoid Mental Fatigue, Says Coach Moya
Holger Rune Fined Over Homophobic Remarks
Former Finalist Milos Raonic Joins List Of Wimbledon Withdrawals, Halep Also In Doubt
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