Davis Cup Final: Andy Murray levels the tie for Great Britain, beats flashy Ruben Bemelmans - UBITENNIS
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Davis Cup Final: Andy Murray levels the tie for Great Britain, beats flashy Ruben Bemelmans

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Murray pulled Great Britain level after the early win for Belgium courtesy of David Goffin

World No.2 Andy Murray won the second rubber in the David Cup Final for Great Britain, defeating Ruben Bemelmans 6-3, 6-2, 7-5. The tie is now level after David Goffin’s comeback from two-sets-to-love down against Kyle Edmund.

 

Murray held his opening service game to fifteen, before immediately breaking the Bemelmans serve. A forehand error into the net and a pair of double-faults betrayed early nerves for the man ranked 108. A final forehand long past the Murray backhand side saw the no.2 ranked player break for a two-love lead.

Bemelmans earned fifteen-thirty in the next game, after a Murray error and a clever drop-shot, before attacking a Murray second serve to earn a break point. A second stunning drop-shot, this time off the backhand wing saw Bemelmans return to serve early on. Bemelmans then held a massively entertaining service game, another perfectly disguised drop-shot winner, and a serve-volley point that Murray eventually won, were included in a hold to fifteen for the Belgian.

Bemelmans failed to keep the level up though, and Murray earned three break points at love-forty in game six, with two shanked forehands from Bemelmans aiding the Brit’s cause. A smash winner and a rally that ended with Murray on floor, ensured two break points were saved. Another forehand error on the third saw Murray reassert control in the set. Murray made no mistake in consolidating the break, holding to love to lead five-two.

Bemelmans held yet another entertaining game before Murray served out the first set to fifteen when Bemelmans netted a return.

Bemelmans played some inspired, entertaining tennis at times, but could not cope with the sheer consistency from the World No.2

Murray earned a break point with a beautiful drop-shot-lob combination in the first game of the second set. Bemelmans saved, but Murray earned another with after a backhand error from his opponent. Murray then passed a serve-volleying Bemelmans for the break in the second set. Murray held a length game spanning more than eight minutes with an overhead smash for the three-one lead.

Bemelmans held, and was to his credit working hard to get back into the set, pushing Murray into another challenging hold to thirty in game six. It was all thrown away though, as Bemelmans crumbled behind some tremendous Murray returning, the World No.2 crushing a backhand return cross-court with beautiful angle. Murray now had the double-break and served the second out to love for a all but unassailable lead.

Bemelmans got back on track by holding his first game in the third set, before Murray also held. Murray was upset by some of the Belgian crowd, and was given a code violation warning for an obscenity. He earned a break point, but Bemelmans gamely held for two-one.

Murray was docked a point at fifteen-love in game five with Bemelmans serving, Carlos Garcia the man behind the decision. Murray then came back from forty-love down in the same game to force break points. Bemelmans held again, and then surprisingly broke Murray in a tense game.

Murray quickly fell behind love-forty, and complained to Carlos Garcia regarding the actions of the home crowd between first and second serves, resulting in the chair umpire penalising the Belgian Davis Cup Captain for the crowd behaviour. Murray saved one break point but Bemelmans broke with a deep return near Murray’s feet that he could only push into the tramlines. Murray immediately earned break-back points with a stunning pass. Bemelmans then blew a forehand to put the match back on serve.

Murray held, and Bemelmans then played another sensational service game, including a tremendous half-volley winner to hold for five-four. Murray double-faulted in his next game handing Bemelmans a precious set point. But the World No. 108 played his return long, and Murray would survive.

Tennis can turn quickly, and Bemelmans was soon under pressure, a Murray winner, return winner, and an error from the Belgian brought three break points for Murray. Murray only needed one, picking off an ever-retreating Bemelmans to serve for the match.

Andy Murray: “The third set was tricky, when the new balls came out he went for his shots more… obviously the crowd were getting wound up but you have to use that to your advantage… big match tomorrow we don’t know who they’ll play but we have good tactics for all of them”

Great Britain Davis Cup Captain Leon Smith on Kyle Edmund: “I don’t think he could have started better than he did… two sets up its a new experience for him… you have to say at one stage fair play to David (Goffin) for finding a way back into the match.

On Murray/Bemelmans: ” I’ve never seen Bemelmans play that way before… it was very, very good

 

 

 

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Fresh Faces Descend Upon The Laver Cup To Fill Void Left By Big Three

With Roger Federer and Co sidelined, those posed to replace them in the future are hoping to make their mark.

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BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - SEPTEMBER 22: (L-R) Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, alternate player Feliciano Lopez, Matteo Berrettini, Andrey Rublev, Casper Ruud, Vice Captain Thomas Enqvist of Team Europe, Rod Laver, Captain John McEnroe, Vice Captain, Patrick McEnroe, Diego Schwartzman, Denis Shapovalov, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Nick Kyrgios, alternate player Jack Sock, John Isner and Reilly Opelka of Team World pose for a portrait with the Laver Cup trophy in front of the Boston skyline at LoPresti Park ahead of the 2021 Laver Cup on September 22, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images for Laver Cup)

This weekend’s Laver Cup will be a test for organisers to see how their event fair with fans without some of the sports biggest names gracing their presence.

 

Since its debut back in 2017, the team competition has grown rapidly on the men’s Tour and even has a slot in the ATP calendar after being given special status two years ago. The competition is inspired by Golf’s prestigious Ryder Cup event with players from Europe taking on those from the rest of the world. Named after tennis great Rod Laver, players battle it out over three days with the first team to 13 points being declared the winner.

This year’s edition is taking place at the TD Garden in Boston 12 months later than originally planned due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For the first time since its birth, no member of the Big Three will be present. Roger Federer, who helped create the event, and Rafael Nadal are sidelined with injury. Meanwhile, Novak Djokovic has opted not to participate.

“Obviously we’re missing the top three guys, but our team (Europe) is one of the strongest I think we’ve ever had,” four-time Laver Cup participant Alexander Zverev assures. “We have all the young gun generation guys, which is great to see. Everybody is very motivated. It’s going to be a fun, entertaining week for all of us.”

The absence of the trio ironically provides an opportunity for the Laver Cup which will still feature 10 out of the world’s top 20 players in the competition. The Organisers are keen to showcase that there is much more to the men’s game than just three players if they want their event to last for years to come. Recently Discovery Sports locked in a 10-year deal to broadcast the Laver Cup exclusively until 2030.

In Team Europe a quartet of players will be making their debut with one of those being recently crowned US Open champion Daniil Medvedev. The world No.2 says he has sought advice from one of his teammates ahead of the competition.

“I asked Sascha (Zverev) when we practiced, how was it (the Laver Cup) in Chicago because that’s when we (Team Europe) were kind of the guests. He told me everybody is gonna be against us,” Medvedev told reporters on Thursday.
“I think the toughest is when you’re not ready and everybody is against you, that’s when you’re gonna have problems. So we are all ready for it.”

Whilst there are no ranking points up for grabs, there is big money to be made. Those who win the Laver Cup this year are reportedly set to earn $250,000 each. Meanwhile, the runner-ups will receive half of that.

Although money isn’t everything for those taking part. Some are relishing the experience of being able to play alongside their peers instead of against them. Federer recently said he hopes the Laver Cup provides an opportunity for the younger players to learn from those who are more experienced.

“It’s an amazing atmosphere here. We are all making fun of each other. We spend a great time together. We are practicing well, preparing well, and we will see what’s gonna happen,” Laver Cup debutante Andrey Rublev said.
“Many guys said that they are the best players. All of them know how to play tennis, what is inside, how we feel, how each player is going to feel. All of us can give advice, if someone sees something from outside the court.” He added.

Norway’s Casper Ruud is another newcomer who says he has benefitted from listening to what his fellow peers have said about the event. Earlier this year Ruud won three consecutive ATP titles on the clay within as many weeks. Since then he has reached the quarter-finals of two Masters events but lost in the second round of the US Open. He will play in the first match of the Laver Cup on Friday against Reiley Opelka.

“I’m really excited. It will be fun to kind of get the show going. I’m sure I will feel some nerves, in the 24 hours when I’m about to step on court,” Ruud admits.
“I have great teammates. They shared their knowledge in our team dinner about how it was, and we have a good plan, I think. Hopefully I can get Team Europe off to a good start.”

On the first day of the competition, three newcomers will be playing for Europe. Besides Rublev and Ruud, Wimbledon finalist Matteo Berrettini will also take to the court against Felix Auger-Aliassime. The Canadian is one of two players in Team World who is playing in the event for the first time along with Opelka.

“We have Sascha and Stefanos (Tsitsipas) who have been here before. They have helped to explain and to share their knowledge about how this event is all about,” vice-captain of Team Europe, Thomas Enqvist, commented.
“The guys have been unbelievable how quickly they come together and how hard they have been working to preparing for this event. I’m really looking forward to the matches.”

Team Europe head into the tie seeking their fourth consecutive trophy and are yet to lost to Team World.

Day 1 order of play

1pm (local time)
Reilly Opelka (World) vs. Casper Ruud (Europe)
Felix Auger-Aliassime (W) vs. Matteo Berrettini (E)

7pm
Diego Schwartzman (W) vs. Andrey Rublev (E)
John Isner/ Denis Shapovalov (W) vs. Matteo Berrettini/Alexander Zverev (E)

*All matches count 1 point

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Roger Federer Eyes Laver Cup Captaincy Role Post-Retirement

The former world No.1 has vowed to stay involved in the team event he helped create for years to come.

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There is one thing for certain when Roger Federer ends his record-breaking career in tennis – his involvement in the Laver Cup will remain unchanged.

 

The 20-time Grand Slam champion was an instrumental figure in the creation of the event which sees players from Europe take on others from the rest of the world in a team competition over three days. Team8, which is a sports management company co-founded by Federer, launched the Laver Cup in 2017. Brazilian businessman Jorge Paulo Lemann and Tennis Australia also played a role in the formation of the event.

Since its launch, the Laver Cup has been given an official ATP status to make it part of the men’s Tour. Meaning they have access to certain things such as marketing options. Ranking points are not awarded to those participating but prize money is. Each member of the winning team is expected to take home $250,000 which is double that of the losing team.

Federer will not be playing in this year’s tournament, which is being held in Boston, due to a right knee injury. He says the aim of the competition is to celebrate the history of men’s tennis and for the younger players to learn from others. The Laver Cup is named after former tennis superstar Rod Laver.

“This event is a get-together,” Federer told The New York Times. “That’s what I wanted it to be. It’s the wisdom, the stories, having legends tell stories to the younger generation. I’m happy being on those teams, listening to Bjorn, seeing John, seeing Rocket [Laver] and watching the youngsters learn from the elders. It’s passing down the wisdom.”

At the age of 40, the Swiss Maestro admits that he doesn’t have much time left before retiring from the sport. Although when that does happen, Federer openly admits that he would like to one day take on the task of being a captain for Team Europe. A role which is currently held by Bjorn Borg, as well as John McEnroe who is the head of Team World.

I definitely see myself being involved,” he replied when asked about his involvement in the Laver Cup after retirement. “I’d love to be the captain one day. I think it’s a beautiful way of getting the rivals to coexist for a week together. It really is truly fun and cool to share the locker room with these guys who you usually share it with, but don’t talk tactics and see how everybody prepares and actually support one another. Normally you don’t cheer against each other, but you don’t really mind if they win or lose. This time it’s very different.”

Despite the absence of the Big Three from the Laver Cup this year, some of the world’s best players are taking part. Among those in Team Europe are US Open champion Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev. Meanwhile, Denis Shapovalov, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Diego Schwartzman are representing Team World.

In the Laver Cup Each match win is worth one point on Friday, two points on Saturday, and three points on Sunday. The winning team is the first to reach 13 points. If there is a tie at 12-12 a fifth match decider is played on the Sunday.

The 2021 Laver Cup will get underway on Friday 24th September.

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EXPLAINED: Why Novak Djokovic’s Latest Trip To Bosnia Has Caused Controversy

Photos and videos on social media of the world No.1 with Milan Jolovic and Milorad Dodik has caused a stir in the region.

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Novak Djokovic during a Men's Singles championship match at the 2021 US Open, Sunday, Sep. 12, 2021 in Flushing, NY. (Andrew Ong/USTA)

Over the past week Novak Djokovic returned to Bosnia where he was seen visiting the Visoko pyramids once again. His time in the region has caught the attention of many but not entirely for the right reason.

 

On social media, photos started to emerge of him sitting next to Milan Jolovic at a social event. Jolovic was once a commander of the Drina Wolves paramilitary unit, which participated in the genocide against Bosniaks in Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He is a somewhat controversial figure related to what is an extremely complicated history in the region.

During the 1990s more than 100,000 people were killed during the Bosnian War, according to figures provided by the The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Al Jazeera reports that Jolvic, who is known by the nickname ‘legend,’ is a celebrated figure in Serbia and is credited for saving the life of Ratko Mladic. A former Bosnian Serb commander who was found guilty in 2017 of committing genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The photo of the two together have triggered mixed reactions from those in both Bosnia and Serbia who fought against each other in the War. Dragan Bursac from the Sarajevo Times took a shot at the 20-time Grand Slam champion for being awarded the Order of the Republika Srpska in 2020 for services to tennis.

Djokovic could have been the greatest of all time, he could have represented the whole planet of sports and help out in a billion ways,” Bursac wrote.
“Instead, he shares a decoration with war criminals Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic, he sings in village weddings with the Dodiks and picnics with people who were in charge of organising [military] operations which led to the genocide.”

At the other end of the spectrum, some are saying that a ‘dirty media war’ is being waged against Djokovic over the photos. Snezana Pajkic Jolovic is the wife of Milan Jolovic. She is a former athlete herself, who won a gold medal at the 1990 European Athletics Championships in the 1500 meters.

Djokovic and the Jolovic’s got acquainted with each other last year when he was visiting the pyramids in Bosnia. Over the weekend he attended one of their friends’ weddings and they spoke with each other. Snezana says she is proud of her husband and insists he has never done anything wrong. In the past Jolovic has insisted that throughout the war he ‘acted according to the Geneva Convention.’

“My husband is an honourable officer who was educated for his vocation, there is not a single stain on his biography. The fact that someone pulled out and used my husband to show everything in a negative context is a bad political campaign. It is insane to emphasize the whole story, because of us, and especially because of Novak,” she told Kurir newspaper.
“He doesn’t need this kind of advertising and chase. Novak hangs out with various people around the world. Should we now research every time about these personalities?”

Besides sitting next to Jolovic, Djokovic was also seen singing alongside Milorad Dodik who is the Serb Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina at the wedding of Nemanja Majdov. A former world champion Judo player from Serbia. Bosnia is governed by a three-member body which must consist of one Bosniak, one Serb, and one Croat.

Dodik is a renowned denier of the Bosnian genocide. Something which is not uncommon in the region with other notable figures, particularly from the Serbian side, having similar views. For example, a UN resolution in 2015 which would have classed the Srebrenica Massacre as genocide was vetoed by Russia. A move hailed by the president of Serbia at the time.

“There was no genocide in Srebrenica. There is no credible evidence or any other evidence that it was genocide,” AFP quoted Dodik as saying earlier this year.

The event he is referring to was a massacre that took place in 1995 where Bosnian Serb forces killed roughly 8,000 Muslim men in under two weeks. Something many experts have described as the world mass killing in Europe since World War Two.

Djokovic has not made any public comment concerning his recent visit to Bosnia.

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