Fed Cup Final in Prague: Petra Kvitova opens with Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova, then Maria Sharapova takes on Karolina Pliskova - UBITENNIS
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Fed Cup Final in Prague: Petra Kvitova opens with Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova, then Maria Sharapova takes on Karolina Pliskova

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The Draw Ceremony of the 2015 Fed Cup Final was held in the Old Town Hall in Prague. Petra Kvitova will face Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova in the first match. Karolina Pliskova will replace this year’s Roland Garros finalist Lucie Safarova in the second Saturday’s singles match against Maria Sharapova.

 

Kvitova, who recently reached the final at the WTA Finals in Singapore and won three of the last four editions of the Fed Cup in 2011, 2012 and 2014, leads 6-3 in her head-to-head matches against Pavlyuchenkova. The Czech star, twice Wimbledon champion in 2011 and 2014 and world number 5, dropped just five games in her only head-to-head match played this year against Pavlyuchenkova on clay in Madrid.

Kvitova has won 20 times in her 22 Fed Cup matches since 2011 losing just to Ana Ivanovic in 2012 and Roberta Vinci in 2013.

Sharapova and Pliskova will clash for the first time in their careers in the second singles match on Saturday. Both players are in good form. Sharapova reached the semifinal at the WTA Finals in Singapore after missing most of the summer due to injury problems following the Wimbledon semifinal.

On Sunday Kvitova will face Sharapova in a re-match of the recent semifinals of the WTA Finals in Singapore where the Czech player won 6-3 7-6 (7-3). The second reverse rubber on Sunday will feature Pliskova and Pavlyuchenkova. Pliskova beat Pavlyuchenkova 6-2 6-4 in their only head-to-head match in Dubai earlier this year,

Barbora Strykova and Lucie Safarova could face Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina in the possible Sunday’s doubles match.

Pliskova won a WTA title in Prague and finished runner-up to Venus Williams in the final at last week’s Elite Trophy in Zhuhai and in four more finals in Sydney, Dubai, Birmingham and Stanford. The young Czech player will make her second appearance in the Fed Cup. She made her debut in Quebec City where she beat Canadian players Francoise Abanda and Gabriela Dabrowski.

Czech Republic will take on Russia for the third time in a Fed Cup Final. The first time dates back to 1988 when former Czechoslovakia beat former Soviet Union 2-1 in Melbourne. In 2011 Czech Republic beat Russia 3-2 in Moscow.

The home team has won three of the last four titles (2011, 2012 and 2014) and has not been defeated since a 3-2 defeat against the USA in 2009. Russia will bidding to win their fifth Fed Cup after their previous triumphs in 2004, 2005, 2007 and 2008.

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(VIDEO) Roger Federer’s Promise On His 41st Birthday

In a special video titled “The Promise”, Federer fulfills the dream of the young tennis talent.

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Roger Federer (SUI) - Credit: AELTC/Jed Leicester

By Andrea Mastronuzzi

Growing up it is customary for a person to mark their birthday by making a wish before blowing out the candles on their cake.

Roger Federer will be taking part in this tradition today as he marks his 41st birthday. What might he wish for? To return to full health, to win another major title or simply just to return to the Tour might be among his options. Unfortunately such wishes don’t always come true but some do. Such as the five-year pledge Federer made to a young fan during the 2017 US Open.

The Swiss maestro has fulfilled the wishes of a child who is now entering into his teenage years. His name is Izyan Ahmad, but everyone calls him Zizou. He is number 1 in the United States in the under-12 category for tennis. Five years ago Zizou decided not to keep his dream to himself anymore because sitting infront of him was the very person who could make it happen. Taking part in a special press conference at the 2017 US Open, thanks to a USTA initiative he was part of, a calm and confident Zizou asked his idol Federer this question: “Could you play another 8 or 9 years so I can play you when I go pro?.” He replied that he would come back specially to play with him on a tennis court and, pressed by Zizou, assured him it was a promise.

 

Thanks to Barilla Izyan has achieved his dream by playing against King Roger in his home city of Zurich. The way the boy was welcomed in Switzerland, his surprise at the attention he received, his initial reaction to seeing Federer and the rallies he played against the former world No.1 are some of the scenes of the new short film for Barilla. “The Promise” is the title of the film which, according to Barilla’s Chief Marketing Officer, Gianluca Di Tondo, represents “another beautiful example of what ‘A Gesture of Love’ means for Barilla”. The Italian company is very focused on enriching everyday life by uniting people through spontaneous acts arising from sincere and disinterested affection.

Whatever Roger Federer does when he relates to others seems to come naturally to him, effortlessly, and that’s what continues to amaze everyone he meets,” says Di Tondo.

It is not the first time that the Swiss champion has come up with simple actions yet so powerful as to turn the day of those lucky ones into the best day of their lives. Also in collaboration with Barilla, King Roger fulfilled the dream of two Ligurian girls who became famous for trying to play tennis on the roof of a building during the lockdown and of a Sardinian woman who had asked him out to dinner by waving a sign during a match of the 20-time Slam champion in Madrid in 2019. Gestures that represent visible signs of those values so dear to Italo Calvino and applied by Federer even with the racket in his hand: lightness (in the sense of harmonious simplicity), accuracy, speed, multiplicity, consistency and visibility (not ostentatious).

Roger is so human. Yet, at the same time, divine. Some years ago, Gianni Clerici* said he saw Federer as a reincarnation of the tennis god that secretly oversees the game. Today is his 41st birthday and for the first time Gianni will not be able to dedicate some lines to him from this planet. He may be able to send his wishes directly to that “tennis god” from whom the Swiss originated. Going on meandering amid nostalgia, it is also the first time Federer will be celebrating his birthday without having any ATP ranking since turning pro.    

On the other hand, there is also room for feelings that do not look back, but rather project themselves into the future, like the wishes that are expressed when blowing out candles. Federer’s birthday precedes his return to court, after a year in which he was missed by his sport and his fans probably even more than he missed playing an official match. He will return in ‘his’ Laver Cup and then in ‘his’ Basel. Whether it will be a just to say goodbye or to reignite his record-breaking career remains to be seen.

Happy birthday, Roger!!

41 NOUNS FOR FEDERER

Elegance, victory, sportsmanship, ease, serenity, jauntiness, talent, regality, style, fluidity, variety, refinement, humanity, empathy, likeability, humility, fatherhood, fraternity, fragility, constancy, temperance, agility, originality, freshness, calmness, ambition, naturalness, correctness, availability, kindness, love, emotionality, surprise, charisma, enthusiasm, lightness, consistency, multiplicity, visibility, rapidity, accuracy.

Translated by Kingsley Elliot Kaye

*Gianni Clerici is a celebrated Italian Journalist, Hall of Famer. He is also the author of Tennis, 500 years of the game, a milestone in tennis history literature. He passed away on 22 June 2022, aged 91 [Translator’s Note]. 

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‘I Have Reinvented Myself’ – Nick Kyrgios Does The Double At The Citi Open

The Wimbledon finalist says his motivation is higher than it used to be after ending his three-year title drought in the American capital and

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Image via https://twitter.com/CitiOpen

Nick Kyrgios credits a growing maturity for a resurgence in his form after lifting both the singles and doubles titles at the Citi Open in Washington.

 

The world No.37 required just over 80 minutes to defeat Yoshihito Nishioka 6-4, 6-3, to record his fourth consecutive win over the Japanese player in his career. Kyrgios was once again dominant behind serve by firing 12 aces and winning 88% of his first service points. It is the seventh time in his career he has won an ATP title and the first since 2019 when he triumphed at the same event.

It wasn’t just the singles where the Australian struck gold. In the doubles, he also clinched the title alongside Jack Sock. The unseeded duo beat fourth seeds Ivan Dodig and Austin Krajicek 7-5, 6-4. Making Kyrgios the first man in history to have won both titles at the tournament within the same year.

I’m extremely proud of myself and my team. It was a really, really good week. It was hard-fought. Had some incredibly tough matches,” Kyrgios said during his press conference.
“Every practice was really good. I tried to be as professional as I could. It’s a reflection of the last six months of how hard I have been working. I’m just really happy to continue the form after Wimbledon.”

Kyrgios’ latest triumph occurs a month after reaching his first Grand Slam final at Wimbledon where he led Novak Djokovic by a set before losing in four. Until then, he has never been beyond the quarter-final stage of a major.

The 25-year-old says his surge in form started at the beginning of the season after he committed himself to work harder on the Tour. Despite his talent in the past, he has been criticized by some in the past over his levels of commitment during matches.

Before the Oz Open, I decided that I really wanted to put in a good training block, and then things just started falling into place,” Kyrgios reflected.
“I had a great Australian Open. I felt like in the tournaments after the Australian Open I was kind of reinventing myself a little bit on the court. I was incredibly intense, played some really good matches, and had some great results earlier in the year.”
“Played a great grass court season. Made a couple semifinals and was right there. I was always knocking on the door of a singles title.”

Unfortunately for Kyrgios, he is still ranked outside the world’s top 30 despite his recent success. This is because no points were awarded at Wimbledon due to their decision to ban Russian and Belarussian players from participating. Nevertheless, the tennis star states his motivation is higher than before due to several reasons.

“I feel like when you play on the tour and you get older, you realize you shouldn’t be taking these things for granted, the way you’re feeling, the way your body feels,” he said.
“Also, I have a partner with me now I see a future with and I kind of see that I have to provide for. So I feel like my motivation is a lot higher than it used to be.’
“I just feel like there is a small window I should capitalize on it. I don’t care about what people say about my tennis. I know that deep down that I try really hard to do it my own way. I know that I inspire millions of people, and I’m just playing for them.”

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Canada Daily Preview: The Williams Sisters Return to Action, Plus Andy Murray Faces Taylor Fritz

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Serena Williams this past week in Toronto (twitter.com/NBOtoronto)

The Canadian Open is a unique ATP Masters/WTA 1000 combined event on the tennis calendar, as the men and women alternate between two different cities each year.  In 2022, the WTA tournament is in Toronto, while the ATP tournament is in Montreal.

 

The WTA singles draw is loaded, featuring 26 of the top 27 players in the world.  It includes world No.1 Iga Swiatek, Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina, defending champion Camila Giorgi, Naomi Osaka, Venus and Serena Williams, and Canada’s own Leylah Fernandez and Bianca Andreescu

“The Big Three” are absent in Montreal, but plenty of top names are present.  They include world No.1 and defending champion Daniil Medvedev, Carlos Alcaraz, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka, and Canadians Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov

Monday’s WTA schedule in Toronto is tremendous, boasting 39 Major singles titles (Serena, Venus, Halep, Kvitova, Ostapenko, Stephens, Kenin, Krejcikova, Rybakina), plus Leylah Fernandez.  Montreal’s Order of Play includes Stan Wawrinka and Denis Shapovalov, plus a blockbuster first round encounter between Andy Murray and Taylor Fritz.

Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Monday’s play gets underway at 11:00am local time in Toronto, and 12:00pm in Montreal.  But with thunderstorms forecast throughout the day in both cities, it could be a challenging day for fans and players alike.


Nuria Parrizas Diaz (Q) vs. Serena Williams (SR) – Second on Centre Court

It is quite odd to see both Venus and Serena Williams unranked, yet neither currently possesses a ranking over a year since their last singles victories.  Serena’s three-set, over three-hour loss in the first round of Wimbledon was her first match in a full year.  Obviously eager for match play three weeks ahead of the US Open, she’s looking for her first win since last year’s Roland Garros.  Her opponent is a 31-year-old from Spain who reached a career-high ranking of No.45 this season.  Diaz won 51 matches at all levels in 2021, and reached the third round of this year’s Australian Open.  While she’s certainly not a pushover, this a rather kind first round draw for Serena in a WTA 1000 tournament.  It should serve as a good indication of Serena’s current level a month after her Wimbledon loss to Harmony Tan.


Andy Murray (WC) vs. Taylor Fritz (10) – Not Before 2:00pm on Court Central

This is a first-time meeting between the three-time Slam champion and this year’s victor in Indian Wells.  It’s been a dramatic year for Fritz, as that Masters 1000 title was the biggest of his career.  But after defeating an injured Rafael Nadal in that final, Nadal would avenge that loss in the quarterfinals of Wimbledon, where Taylor lost a heartbreaker in a fifth-set tiebreak.  And this past week in Washington, Fritz retired down 4-1 in the third set to Dan Evans, as he was suffering in the extreme heat.  Murray also experienced disappointing losses at those same two events.  At Wimbledon, he was defeated in four sets by John Isner, a player he was previously 8-0 against.  And in Washington, Andy lost a three-hour battle to Mikael Ymer.  Currently ranked 50th in the world, Murray would love to improve his ranking and earn a victory over a top 15 player.  But Fritz is the much more in-form player, with 31 wins in 2022, and is the favorite to prevail.


Other Notable Matches on Monday:

Elena Rybakina vs. Marie Bouzkova (Q) – The freshly-crowned Wimbledon champion is 0-1 since that life-changing feat, losing to Daria Kasatkina last week in San Jose.  Bouzkova also had her best Slam run at last month’s Wimbledon, when she reached the quarterfinals.  Rybakina leads their head-to-head 2-0.

Stan Wawrinka (PR) vs. Emil Ruusuvuori – Wawrinka is just 3-6 since returning from two left foot surgeries.  Ruusuvuori earned impressive victories this past week in Washington over Mackie McDonald and Hubi Hurkacz.

Barbora Krejcikova vs. Karolina Pliskova (14) – Krejcikova has been struggling in singles since returning from an arm injury at Roland Garros, but earned her fifth Major title in doubles at Wimbledon.  Similarly, Pliskova is only 10-12 this season after suffering a hand injury in December.  Yet Pliskova is 3-0 against Krejcikova.

Sloane Stephens vs. Sofia Kenin – This is a battle of Major champions, though neither of them arrive in strong form.  Despite a quarterfinal run in Paris, Stephens has a losing record on the year.  And Kenin is on a seven-match losing streak, as an injury forced her to miss much of this season. 

Denis Shapovalov vs. Alex de Minaur – Shapovalov is on a terrible streak of his own, having lost eight of his last nine matches.  De Minaur is coming off a title run in Atlanta last month.  And the Australian has claimed both of their previous meetings at tour level.

Storm Sanders (Q) vs. Leylah Fernandez (13) – This will be Leylah’s first match since a stress fracture left her foot immobilized in a boot for weeks following the French Open.  Sanders is an accomplished doubles player who is ranked 279th in the world in singles. 

Jil Teichmann vs. Venus Williams (WC) – After returning to competition in mixed doubles at Wimbledon, this is Venus’ first time playing singles since last August.  That’s the same month Teichmann was a surprise finalist in Cincinnati.


Monday’s full Order of Play is here.

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