In a top notch doubles match the American brothers defeat in 5 sets Hewitt and Peers 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3
Tennis doubles is as (rightfully) mistreated in the ATP circuit, as fundamental in Davis Cup. Not a fan myself of doubles, but today in Kooyong the crème de la crème of doubles was playing: the Bryan brothers – i.e. the most successful doubles team ever – against Aussies John Peers (doubles specialists, 9 titles mostly with Jamie Murray) and Lleyton Hewitt. Hewitt? Isn’t he retired and Davis Cup captain? Well it was so till 11AM, when – just one hour prior match commencement – the breaking news arrived: Hewitt will replace Groth and pair up with John Peers to face the Bryan brothers. The Aussie icon is officially out of retirement and leading the charge against the best doubles team ever and when he appears on the court the Kooyong arena explodes chanting. “We were not surprised at all to see Hewitt playing” says Bob at the press conference “He’s been playing a lot the whole week, both doubles and singles, more than anyone else“. “It was decided last night. Share the workload was the determining factor“, states Hewitt diplomatically.
It’s a cloudy day in Melbourne and a temperature of 22C, much better conditions than yesterday’s scorching hot. The Fanatics, in green and gold, are singing, chanting, clapping, cheering with great choreography. After a minute silence in memory of Bud Collins, on the grass court the rubber starts at 12:08 with Bob Bryan (the lefty) serving and holding easily. Australia replies with Peers. After Mike Bryan (the righty) holding serve easily it’s Hewitt’s turn. Rusty is very focused, but also appears quite tense. At 40-15 shouts his first “C’mon” but that’s not enough. At the second break point Hewitt is broken and then the USA flies up 4-1. The American brothers – particularly Bob – are returning very well and playing effectively at the net, playing especially on Hewitt who appears at this stage less solid than Peers. At 4-2 USA, the Aussies have 3 opportunities in a row to break back, but the USA manage to hold: Bob Bryan’s serve is as deadly as his blocked backhand. That was the only opportunity for the Aussies in the first set; the Bryan brothers take the set 6-3 with a forehand return in the net by Hewitt.
The second set flows similarly to the first one; at 3 all Hewitt faces a break point after a great backhand passing shot by Bob Bryan. This one is saved, but soon after the Aussies face a second: Hewitt is broken again. At 5-3 USA, Peers – up to this point very solid on serve, leaving only a couple of points to the Americans – feels the pressure and is broken for a final 6-3. Two sets to love for the Americans in 1 hour and a forecast of a short match, as the American brothers appear in total control.
And then what you don’t expect happens: that’s why we love tennis. Hewitt’s intensity grows, as does his return: at 3 all two backhand returns by the Aussie icon and a volley by Peers bring the Australian up 0-40. As in the first set they are not able to convert them, with an overhead in the net by Peers, but a forehand return by Hewitt gives them a fourth chance. “C’mon mate, go” shouts Lleyton to Peers, who delivers and finally the Aussies break the USA, to then hold to 0: 5-3 Australia. Peers serves for the set at 5-4 and this time he holds nerves and serve: the Kooyong arena explodes chanting and Australia re-open the match. “You could feel the adrenalin flowing” says Peers commenting on the Fanatics, the vocal and colourful Aussie supporters “they got us back into the match they were amazing“.
Hewitt is now on fire, keeps on returning as well as when he was at the top of his career. Yet another foot fault for Mike Bryan (quite a few for both twins) and the Aussies break in the third game: 2-1 Australia. The match surges in intensity with great rallies at the net: this is great doubles! Both teams hold serve and it’s Peers’ turn again to serve for the set: spotless delivery and Australia takes the fourth set 6-4 and levels up the rubber.
The tension is now really high. The Bryan brothers have not won over 100 titles each by chance and get their thoughts together are regroup. As Hewitt says in the press conference “doubles is made of small momentum swings“, and so the Americans fly 3-0 in just 8 minutes breaking Peers to 0. After a quarter of an hour it’s 5-2. Hewitt faces 2 consecutive match points and then saves a third to hold serve, but it’s Bob Bryan’s turn. He’s been a machine throughout the match and the mechanism does not grip. He does not miss one point and the USA close after 2:30 with the final score of 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3.
So what will happen tomorrow? Will Hewitt replace Groth in what could be the decider of the tie? “That’s not my concern, I care about what happens on my side of the net” says Courier. “Both Isner and Tomic have played very well, maybe John [Isner] has got a little advantage because he played three sets only, but it will be tough”. On his side Hewitt does not exclude playing “I feel comfortable playing double or singles“, but for now “we need Bernie [Tomic] to win, as simple as that. He needs to serve well, Isner has been serving very well. Bernie plays a totally different style of game from Sam”.
From Melbourne, Robbie Cappuccio
Juan Martin Del Potro Hits Back At Claim Made By Pique Over Davis Cup Involvement
It had been claimed that the former top 10 player was pondering playing in Madrid later this year.
The team of former US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro has denied that he has been involved in talks with Kosmos to play in the revamped Davis Cup later this year.
It had been claimed by Kosmos founder Gerard Pique that the Argentine has been in negotiations about playing the event, which has undergone a change in format. In November 18 teams will travel to Madrid to play in a week-long group competition. Similar to that of the football World Cup. A move that has divided opinion in the sport with critics arguing that the change is too radical.
“We are talking with Del Potro, (but) it obviously depends on the injury, see how he returns. But yes, we are in permanent contact with him.” Ubitennis’ Spanish-language site quoted Pique as saying.
Pique, who plays football for Barcelona F.C, was caught on audio saying the statement. However, it has now been suggested that he has either misspoken on even lied about del Potro. A statement issued by Del Potro’s communications team stated that no such thing has happened.
“TeamDelpo clarifies that there were no negotiations between the Kosmos Group and Juan Martin del Potro about the next Davis Cup in Madrid.” Their statement reads.
“We deny in this way the journalistic versions that speak of economic arrangements, “approaches”, “departures” or “concrete offers.”
The 30-year-old hasn’t played a match on the ATP Tour since injuring his knee at the Fever-Tree Championships in June. The latest setback for the injury-stricken player, who has undergone five surgeries since 2014. Del Potro is set to start his latest comeback in Europe at the Swedish Open, which will start on October 14th.
It has been rumoured that during the Davis Cup finals, Del Potro could play Roger Federer in an exhibition match in his home country on November 20th. Federer is another high-profile absentee from the team event. The potential clash has been reported by Argentinian journalist Danny Miche in his podcast. However, it is understood that nothing is finalised as of yet due to various economic factors.
There has been no response so far from Kosmos regarding Del Potro’s statement.
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Gerard Pique Sheds Light On Chances of Roger Federer Returning To Davis Cup
The Swiss maestro is the only member of the Big Three not to feature in the revamped event later this year.
There is a 50/50 chance that Roger Federer could play in next year’s Davis Cup finals, according to Kosmos founder Gerard Pique.
The Barcelona F.C. player has confirmed that talks are ongoing about the former world No.1 featuring in the historic event, which has been revamped this year. For the first time in it’s 119-year history, the finals will take place over a week and feature 18 teams taking part in a round-robin format. The change has split opinion in the sport, but was given the green light at the ITF’s annual AGM meeting last year. Pique’s investment company Kosmos is a key financial backer of the changes.
One notable absence from this year’s finals, which will be held in Madrid, is Federer. The former world No.1 has in the past been a critic of the new format. Once saying the tournament has been designed for ‘the future generation of players,’ but not him. He has also warned against the team competition being turned into the ‘Pique Cup.’ A term the Spaniard is not a fan of.
“I wanted since the first moment I arrived in the tennis world, is to try to help this sport.” Pique said during an interview with Sport Business.
“Switzerland has not qualified for November so even if Roger wants to play in this event, he cannot, but we are talking with him and his agent to discuss the possibility to play in 2020.”
As is currently stands, Federer is the only member of the big three not to be playing. Rafael Nadal has vowed to play if healthy and Novak Djokovic announced his attendance on the eve of the US Open. The Serbian had previously expressed his reservations over participating due to its close proximity to the ATP Cup, another team event that will kick-off in January.
“I just feel like the date of the Davis Cup is really bad, especially for the top players. Between the two, I will prioritize the World Team Cup because that’s a competition of ATP.” The world No.1 said last year.
So why has Djokovic decided to play in Madrid? When asked in Flushing Meadows he said he wanted to represent his country. However, Pique believes there is more to it than that. Saying that he had managed to persuade the Serbian following conversations between the two.
“I said to him, ‘I know you are an ATP player but at the same time you represent the federation of Serbia, which is part of the ITF which invests in young talent and the future of tennis. I think it makes total sense that you participate in both competitions because it is a message that at the end of the day that you want [for the ATP and ITF] to work together.”
One criticism of the event is the timing of the finals. They will take place between November 18-24, the week after the ATP Finals in London. Partly eating into what is already a relatively short off-season for many players on the tour.
ITF President David Haggerty is hoping that negotiations over a potential change in dates can be made in the future with the new leader of the ATP. Current CEO Chris Kermode will be leaving his position later this year after failing to receive enough backing in a ATP board meeting.
“There is leadership change coming and once that’s completed we will continue discussions to see what’s the best date.” Haggerty outlined.
“We need to have the first Davis Cup finals in November and the ATP Cup will be in January and then we will have more facts and have a good discussion.”
The inaugural Davis Cup finals will be held at the Caja Magica. The same venue as the Madrid Open, which takes place annually in May.
Novak Djokovic To Play Revamped Davis Cup In Madrid
The world No.1 has confirmed his participation in the event for the first time ahead of his US Open campaign.
Novak Djokovic is set to travel to Madrid later this year to play in the newly revamped Davis Cup finals following months of uncertainty.
For the first time in the tournaments 119-year history, the finals will feature 18 teams playing over a week. The transformation was given the go ahead at the ITF AGM meeting last year amid a divide in the sport about the move. Some critics have branded the move as too extreme. Voicing anger at the decision to remove away home and away finals. The main investor in the revamp is Kosmos, who has pledged to invest $3 billion over the next 25 years. Kosmos was founded by Barcelona F.C player Gerard Pique.
News of Djokovic’s upcoming appearance has been confirmed by the captain of the Serbian Davis Cup team, Nenad Zimonjic. In a statement published on Monday before the start of the US Open, Zimonjic said the two have held discussions.
“Yes, we have fantastic news, Novak will participate in the final tournament in Madrid. I had the opportunity to speak with him in New York, the day before the start of the final grand slam competition in the 2019 season at the US Open.” Zimonjic said in a statement published on the website of the Serbian Tennis Association.
“Novak confirmed that he would join the team in Madrid, it will be a huge boost for us and we are all looking forward to participating in this competition, which will also be the first tournament to be played in this new format.”
There has been doubts over Djokovic’s participation due to the close proximity of the event to the ATP Finals, which takes place a week prior. The 16-time grand slam champion had also previously indicated that he would prefer to play in the new ATP World Team Cup, which launches in January, over the Davis Cup. The new event offers both ranking points and prize money.
“I just feel like the date of the Davis Cup is really bad, especially for the top players. Between the two, I will prioritize the World Team Cup because that’s a competition of ATP.” Djokovic said last year.
Despite his past reservations, the head of the Serbian team believes the schedule will not be a factor for Djokovic despite the short turnaround. Should he reach the final of the season ending championships, Djokovic will play in London on a Sunday and then fly to Madrid to get ready for his country’s first tie on the following Wednesday against Japan.
“I believe the tournament in London will end on Sunday when the (ATP) finals are played. He will join the team in Madrid immediately after the final Masters in London.” Zimonjic outlined.
“The rest of the team and our entire national team will arrive a little earlier, starting Thursday 14th (November). To adapt to the conditions of the game, as well as the high altitude of 667 meters and perfectly prepare for the matches that await us there.”
Djokovic will play Roberto Carballés Baena in the first round of the US Open. He was a member of the Serbian team that won their first and so far only Davis Cup title back in 2010.
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