Ghent will host the eagerly-awaited Davis Cup Final between Great Britain and Belgium this weekend on the indoor clay surface of the Flanders Expo. Great Britain has reached the Davis Cup Final for the first time since 1978 and will be bidding to win their first title since 1936. Belgium has not reached the Davis Cup final since 1904.
Belgium and Great Britain have clashed eleven times in their long Davis Cup history. These countries met for the first time in the final of the 1904 edition when Great Britain won 5-0 at Wimbledon. Their last Davis Cup clash dates back to 2012 when Belgium won 4-1 in Glasgow.
British tennis Number 1 player Andy Murray will be looking to add his first Davis Cup title to his long list of honours which includes the 2012 Olympic gold medal, the US Open title in 2012 and Wimbledon in 2013 when he became the first British man to win at the All-England Club since Fred Perry in 1936. With a win at this weekend’s Davis Cup final in Ghent, Murray would equal Fred Perry who led to the last British triumph in 1936 when Great Britain beat Australia 3-2 at Wimbledon. Great Britain has played in 17 Davis Cup finals, winning the trophy 9 times.
Murray led the British team to the final with singles and doubles wins over three big Davis Cup nations. The Dunblane star contributed significantly to the three British wins over the USA, France and Australia this year winning eight of the nine rubbers in 2015. The only other British win which did not involve Murray came from James Ward who beat John Isner in five sets in the first round match against the USA.
In the clash with America last March, Murray beat Donald Young in four sets before Ward fought back from two sets down to upset Isner in a thrilling five set match with 6-7 (5-7) 5-7 6-3 7-6 (7-3) 15-13, which lasted almost five hours. After a win by the Bryan brothers over Jamie Murray and Dominic Inglot in five sets, Murray beat Isner in three sets.
Andy and Jamie Murray secured all the three points in the 3-1 win over nine-time Davis Cup champions France at the Queen’s Club last July. After a win by Gilles Simon over James Ward, Andy Murray beat Jo Wilfried Tsonga to draw level to 1-1. The Murray brothers beat Tsonga and Nicholas Mahut in the doubles match before Andy won a tough four-set match against Simon. The win resulted in Great Britain qualifying for their first Davis Cup semifinal since 1981.
The results of the Murray brothers have put their native town Dunblane in the spotlight. A tweet after their quarter final against France stated: “If Dunblane declared independence, they could win the Davis Cup”.
Judy Murray, the mother of Andy and Jamie and Fed Cup captain, also spoke about how the performance by Murray brothers have brought pride to their home town.
“There is a huge sense of pride in what the boys have achieved. It just brings so much excitement to the people in Dunblane. To see them go out there and play together for their country is a very special moment. For Dunblane it’s a huge thing. Andy and Jamie started out as two little tots with tiny rackets and shorts way too big for them. Who could have believed they would end up where they are?” said Judy Murray.
In Great Britain’s semifinal against Australia last September Andy Murray beat Thanasi Kokkinakis in three sets before Bernard Tomic beat Dan Evans to draw level to 1-1. Andy and Jamie Murray then won the crucial doubles match against Sam Groth and Lleyton Hewitt in five sets. Andy Murray sealed the first Davis Cup final for his country since 1978 with a three-set win over Bernard Tomic. Shortly after the win, Murray spoke about how much the trophy would mean for his country.
“To win the biggest team competition in tennis having beaten the other three Grand Slam nations would be a huge victory for everyone in the team. It would be well-deserved as well. It’s taken a lot of time and hard work from many players, many of the staff, coaches, physios, everyone. It’s taken five years. It’s taken five years. When you win a Slam or a big competition, it’s obviously years in the work but this is a bit different. The last five years it’s been a progression from a pretty low place in world tennis, to playing for the biggets team competition. It would be big for everyone involved for sure”, said Murray.
British captain Leon Smith is yet to choose between James Ward and Kyle Edmund for the second singles spot in the British team this week-end. Edmund has recently boosted his chance to be chosen as the second singles player after winning the ATP Challenger in Buenos Aires, defeating Carlos Berloq on clay. Edmund has improved his ranking from world number 191 to number 99 and has showed a good attitude to play on the clay surface. Edmund won two doubles junior Grand Slam titles at the 2012 US Open and at the 2013 French Open and reached two Junior semifinals at the 2011 US Open and at Wimbledon in 2013.
Belgium will play their first Davis Cup final since 1904 and obviously this weekend’s event will be one of the greatest highlights for Belgian sport this year. Belgium has only reached the semifinal stage twice since 1981.
The team captained by Johan Van Herck has reached the historic final after a successful campaign highlighted by wins over 2014 Davis Cup champions Switzerland followed by Canada and Argentina.
“For us it’s a huge event. I think for Belgium it’s important not only for tennis but sport in general. It’s a good team effort. I think everyone in Belgium appreciates that. We will to go one step further. The whole country will be behind us and we will try to keep the trophy here”, said Belgian captain van Herck.
Belgium’s top player David Goffin will carry the major hopes for the home team. Goffin lost against Andy Murray 1-6 1-6 in their recent head-to-head match in Paris Bercy but this weekend’s final will be a totally different story. The unique Davis Cup atmosphere and a different surface could turn around the predictions in favour of the Belgian star who will rely on the strong support from the home crowd.
In this year’s Davis Cup Goffin scored the decisive 3-2 point in the first round match against Switzerland with a straight-set win over Swiss Adrien Bossel in the fifth match. In the semifinal Goffin beat Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman in straight sets to draw level to 2-2 after Argentina took the 2-1 lead after the win in the doubles match.
Goffin has a win-loss record of 37-24 this year and reached two finals at s’Hertogenbosch and Gstaad. He also reached the quarter finals in Rome, Munich and Basel as well as the semifinals in Chennai. His best result at the Grand Slams in 2015 was reaching the fourth round at Wimbledon.
“The day I played against Andy in Bercy it was just a off-day for me”, said Goffin. “I didn’t play really well. Andy was really aggressive. He played an unbelievable match there but it’s different conditions here. It’s a completely different match and another match. I just have to forget this match and think about the matches of this week-end”, said Goffin.
Belgium started this year’s campaign with a dramatic 3-2 win over a Swiss team without Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka before crushing Canada 5-0 last July. Last September Belgium delighted the home fans at the Forest National in Brussels with another dramatic 3-2 over Argentina.
The other man to watch on the Belgian side will be Steve Darcis who has won four decisive fifth rubber matches for his team at 2-2, including the decisive clash against Federico Delbonis from Argentina last September in Brussels. In that dramatic match Delbonis fended off two match points in the fourth set as Darcis was serving at 5-4 before the Belgian clinched a dramatic 3-2 win in the tie-break.
However, there is a question match on Darcis’ form as the 31-year-old Belgian player was forced to retire from a match against Richard Gasquet with a left ankle injury last month in Stockholm.
Belgium will also feature Ruben Bemelmans, who will play in the doubles, and 21-year-old Kimmer Coppejans. Bemelmans teamed up with Coppejans in the four-set doubles match over Canada last July.
The Belgian team has enlisted the help of former French player Michael Llodra, who was recently contacted by the Belgian tennis Federation to offer his advice for the doubles during the Davis Cup final.
“This is a very exciting challenge when you know how difficult it is to win that title”, said Llodra.
The Final between the two countries will get start on Friday at 12:30 GMT.
Spain to face Russia and Ecuador in Davis Cup Finals next November
The draw of the 2020 Davis Cup Finals in Madrid took place at the ITF offices in London on 12th March. The Davis Cup Finals will begin in Madrid on 23rd November 2020.
Defending champions Spain has been drawn in the Group A against Russia and Ecuador. Last year Rafael Nadal guided the Spanish team to the triumph in the final against Canada at the Caja Magica.
This year’s ATP Cup champions Serbia will face Germany and Austria in a Group A, which features three top 10 players Novak Djokovic, Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev. Djokovic beat Thiem in this year’s final of the Australian Open.
In the Group E the USA will take on Italy in a re-match of last year’s late round-robin match. These two teams were drawn against Colombia.Last year’s finalists Canada will meet Sweden and Kazakhstan.
Three former Davis Cup champions France, Great Britain and Czech Republic have been drawn in Group C.
Croatia will clash against Australia and Hungary in Group D.
John Millman Praises ‘Special’ Atmosphere After Australia’s Davis Cup Triumph
John Millman praised the ‘special’ Davis Cup atmosphere in Adelaide after their 3-1 win over Brazil.
John Millman praised the ‘special’ Davis Cup atmosphere in Adelaide this weekend after Australia booked their spot in the Davis Cup Finals.
As Australia headed into the second day with a 2-0 advantage, many people expected a comfortable 3-0 win for the hosts but that turned out not to be the case.
Marcelo Demoliner and Felipe Meligini Rodrigues Alves gave Brazil hope after an epic 2 hour and 54 minute win over James Duckworth and John Peers.
A 5-7 7-5 7-6(6) victory for the Brazilians saw the tie taken into a fourth rubber as John Millman knew he had to step up to seal victory for the Aussies.
Another sensational match as Millman battled past Thiago Monteiro 6-7(6) 7-6(3) 7-6(3) to secure a thrilling win and Australia’s place in November’s Davis Cup Finals.
After sealing the win, Millman praised the special atmosphere in Adelaide over the two days, “To have an experience like this, that’s better than just about any experience I’ve had,” Millman told Tennis Australia.
“It was something pretty special this weekend. I enjoyed every second of it. It was so much fun. It was an emotional rollercoaster and we’re so happy to get through. To do it with these boys, it’s been a really special week.”
As for captain Lleyton Hewitt, this win typified what he loves about the home and away format that the Davis Cup Qualifiers shows, “There were ebbs and flows in all the matches. It could have gone either way,” Hewitt said.
“That is what Davis Cup is about and that’s why I love the home and away format. To have the atmosphere and the crowd involvement, it was a lot of fun for us to be out there.
“For these guys to play in front of their home fans again, they don’t get to do it throughout the year that often. I’m just thrilled for them that they get to enjoy it and be part of it. It is something really special.”
Next for Hewitt and his Australian team will be the Davis Cup Finals in Madrid, where they will join last year’s semi-finalists Spain, Canada, Great Britain and Russia as well as wildcards Serbia and France.
Also qualifying for November’s showpiece were Ecuador and Kazakhstan after their respective wins over Japan and the Netherlands.
Kei Nishikori Out Of Davis Cup In Latest Blow To Japan
More bad news for fans of the injury-stricken player.
Former US Open finalist Kei Nishikori has hinted that he may not be able to return to the tour until the clay season after withdrawing from his country’s upcoming Davis Cup tie against Ecuador.
Nishikori, who is currently ranked 31st in the world, had been in Miki training ahead of his country’s clash in the team competition. Raising hopes that he will be making a return this weekend. However, he has now confirmed that he is not fully at the level he needs to be to play. The 30-year-old hasn’t played a competitive match since September after undergoing surgery on his right elbow.
“Physically I’m not at my max.” AFP news quoted Nishikori as saying on Thursday.
“I want to return to competition after I improve my strength and become fully confident.
“It might be after Miami or during the clay season,” he added.
Japan will now enter their tie without their two top ranked players on the tour. Another notable absentee is world No.48 Yoshihito Nishioka, who has pulled out of the competition over coronavirus concerns. Yesterday the country recorded it’s 1000th infection of the illness, which is also known as Covid-19. The outbreak has affected many public events in Japan, but officials are confident that this year’s Olympic Games will go ahead as planned.
As a result of the outbreak, the Davis Cup clash will take place behind closed doors. The decision was jointly made between the ITF, Japanese Tennis Association and the country’s government. Baseball matches in the country have also been played without a crowd and the football J-League has been postponed.
“I am grateful just to be held while many sports are being cancelled.” Yasutaka Uchiyama told reporters.
“I want to get results firmly for the fans who support me in front of the TV. ”
Uchiyama and Go Soeda will be the two players who are playing singles in the tie against Ecuador instead of Nishikori and Nishioka.
Another Davis Cup tie affected by the Coronavirus is Italy’s home tie with South Korea. The government announced on Wednesday that all sporting fixtures will be played behind closed doors until April 3rd. Italy is the worst affected country in Europe with more than 3000 cases.
During a recent interview with Ubitennis, the ITF has said that are monitoring the threat posed by Covid-19 to their tournaments on a ‘case by case’ basis and are liaising with the relevant authorities. The ITF is the body which runs the Davis Cup.
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