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
Davis Cup Finals Tournament Director Asks For Patience Ahead Of November Edition
Davis Cup Finals tournament director Albert Costa is asking for patience as he believes the tournament will be an overwhelming success
Davis Cup Finals Tournament Director Albert Costa has asked fans for their patience ahead of November’s edition.
The new format will see 18 teams compete in Madrid in November for the Davis Cup trophy with many people criticising the reforms.
However tournament director Albert Costa has asked tennis fans for patience as he believes in time the Finals will be a success, “After all, it’s one of the great competitions in the world of sports, very attractive, unique and novel for everyone, and for the players it will be a very attractive format,” Costa explained in an interview with Radio Marca.
“I do not see that it will go wrong, people have many expectations, that the first year is complicated and there may be some doubt, but I think it will be a success, I have no doubt. It comes out as we hope we will have patience and we will organize the second edition in a better way, but we do not contemplate that it does not go well.”
The Spaniard is also looking ahead to the future and is in current discussion to make the Fed Cup a combined event with the Davis Cup in the future, “The Federation Cup is a two-year project, we will see if it is viable, but we have it in our heads,” Costa explained.
“We are still negotiating and talking with the ATP to do a joint event and then a larger one of men and women, it is a project but it is not a reality yet. There are opinions for everyone, the changes always generate doubts and we have to show that the competition is attractive to everyone.”
The Davis Cup Finals takes place on the 18th-24th of November with a weakened field expected as Roger Federer, Dominic Thiem, Juan Martin Del Potro and Alexander Zverev will all not participate in Madrid.
Gerard Pique Responds To Criticism From Lleyton Hewitt Over His Involvement In Davis Cup
The 32-year-old is hoping that he can prove critics wrong with the new controversial format.
Kosmos founder Gerard Pique has told The Daily Mail he ‘respects’ the opinion of Australian Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt, despite being heavily criticised by the former world No.1.
Pique is the head of the company that is overseeing the transformation of the Davis Cup. Later this year 18 teams will play in a week-long showdown that has been dubbed the ‘World Cup’ of tennis. The revamp, who was approved by a vote last August, has divided opinion within the sport. Australia has been one of the most vocal critics of the revamp with Hewitt taking aim at Pique last month.
“Now we’re getting run by a Spanish football player, which is like me come out and asking to change things for the Champions League,” Hewitt told reporters. “He knows nothing about tennis.”
Responding to the comment for the first time, Pique has tried to cool down the argument. Stating that he has no intention of ‘changing the rules of tennis.’ Although under the new format, Davis Cup matches are now best-of-three sets and the finals will see three matches played per tie instead of five.
“I respect the opinion of Lleyton, he was a great player. What I can say is that while I’m the President of Kosmos we are full of people who know tennis, people like Albert Costa, who has won a Grand Slam.” Pique told The Daily Mail.
“I can understand that when a footballer comes in the tennis world it can seem a little bit awkward or strange, but at the end of the day I’m not going to be changing the rules of tennis. I understand that I’m the new one here and I try to understand everyone. In the time we are living now it is easy to say whatever you think. If it’s with respect it’s fine.”
Kosmos has pledged to invest $3 billion into the new competition over the next 25 years. Their backers include Indian Wells Masters owner Larry Ellison, Japanese billionaire Hiroshi Mikitani and even football superstar Lionel Messi. As a result of Ellison’s involvement, Indian Wells have been mentioned as a strong candidate to hold the Davis Cup finals in the future. Although the logistics may be hard if the ATP Finals continues to be held in London. In the current schedule, the Davis Cup finale takes place straight after the ATP Finals.
“It is something we are talking about and it’s a possibility,” Pique commented about Indian Wells as a venue.
“You have pros and cons, we chose Madrid because it’s next to London. Indian Wells is far away but the facilities are incredible.”
Due to the involvement of the Barcelona F.C. footballer, the competition is referred by some as the ‘Pique Cup.’ Something that doesn’t go down too well with the 32-year-old.
“I hate it, because it’s not about me and I don’t want my name on the competition,” he said. “Davis Cup history is so big. I hope we can change this opinion. After a few years I hope they go back and say “We were wrong, Davis Cup is more alive than ever.”
The Davis Cup finals will be played between November 18-24.
ITF, Kosmos Confident Controversial Davis Cup Revamp Will Be A Hit As Draw Is Unveiled
The groups for the the finals of the team tournament has been decided with ITF President Davis Haggerty describing the event as ‘traditional, whilst having innovation.’
The draw has taken place for the inaugural Davis Cup finals with the International Tennis Federation (ITF) reiterating their support for the controversial new format.
On Thursday evening, 18 teams learned which group they have been placed in during a special ceremony in Madrid. In November 18 teams will participate in a week-long tournament held at the Caja Magica in what will be a historic change to the competition. The changes have been made after the plans was voted for in August by the majority of national tennis federations (71%). Although critics argue the change is too radical and kills the Davis Cup. There has also been heavy criticism regarding the decision to hold the finals at a neutral venue.
“Davis Cup is all about keeping tradition whilst having innovation at the same time.” Said ITF President David Haggerty.
“All of us have a special place in your heart for the Davis Cup, we all care about it. But where we are going with the Davis Cup is going to elevate it and make it better.” He later added.
There will be a total of six groups in the finals with three teams featuring in each one. Reigning champions Croatia has been placed alongside home favourites Spain and Russia. France, who were runners-up in 2018, will take on Serbia and Japan. Meanwhile, wild card entrants Great Britain has been given a favourable group alongside Kazakhstan and the Netherlands. The winner of each group and the two best second placed countries will progress to the quarter-finals of the competition.
Group A: France, Serbia, Japan
Group B: Croatia, Spain, Russia
Group C: Argentina, Germany, Chile
Group D: Belgium, Australia, Colombia
Group E: Great Britain, Kazakhstan, Netherlands
Group F: US, Italy, Canada
Overseeing the competition is investment firm Kosmos, whose 25-year $3 billion investment was pivotal is changing the Davis Cup. The company was founded by Barcelona F.C. footballer Gerard Pique. Who has generated both admiration and hate from the tennis community in recent months. Australian captain Lleyton Hewitt recently told reporters, ‘Now we’re getting run by a Spanish football player, which is like me come out and asking to change things for the Champions League.’
“I have been a fan of tennis since I was a kid. I saw the Davis Cup as an opportunity for a competition that can be great in the future.” Pique said in Spanish during the draw ceremony.
“I think we (Kosmos) are a great partner for the ITF to organise this competition and we truly believe that in the future, starting from this year, it will get better and better.”
Whilst there is enthusiasm, winning over die hard fans is proving to be a harder than expected. ITF chief Haggerty was questioned about the critics during the presentation, but refused to let it overshadow proceedings.
“I would encourage those people who are concerned about it to come to Madrid and see for yourselves.” He said.
The Davis Cup finals will take place between 18-24 November. All ties will consist of two singles matches and one in the doubles. All matches will be best-of-three sets.
Davis Cup Finals schedule
|Day||Round||Number of teams|
|18–21 Nov (Monday–Thursday)||Round Robin||18 (6 groups of 3 teams)|
|22 Nov (Friday)||Quarterfinals||8 (6 group winners + 2 best second place)|
|23 Nov (Saturday)||Semifinals||4 (automatically qualified for 2020 Davis Cup Finals)|
|24 Nov (Sunday)||Final||2|
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