Davis Cup Australia - USA day 2: Australia's fighting spirit is not enough to overcome the Bryan brothers and the USA take the lead 2-1 - UBITENNIS
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Davis Cup Australia – USA day 2: Australia’s fighting spirit is not enough to overcome the Bryan brothers and the USA take the lead 2-1

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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

 
Great returns by Hewitt were not enough to overcome the Bryan brothers

Great returns by Hewitt were not enough to overcome the Bryan brothers

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

Is Covid-19 Just An Excuse To Axe The 2020 Davis Cup Finals?

The decision to cancel the team event five months before it was set to start may be more complex than what officials are letting on.

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On Friday the International Tennis Federation issued a statement to confirm that their two premier tennis team events will not be taking place this year.

 

The Davis Cup and Fed Cup tournaments have been delayed until 2021 due to the global uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. For the Davis Cup, it is only the 12th time in history a season has ended without a champion being decided since its birth in 1900 and the first since 1945. The teams that have qualified for the week-long finals this year will instead have to wait until November 2021 to battle it out for the title.

“This is a tough decision to have to make, but delivering an international team event on this scale while guaranteeing the health and safety of all involved ultimately poses too great a risk,” ITF President David Haggerty said in a statement. “It is a complex undertaking and we have made the decision now to provide certainty for players, national associations and fans.”

There are however some questions over why the ITF has made this announcement five months before the start of the tournament. Especially when both the ATP and WTA Tours are set to restart in August. Furthermore Madrid, where this year’s finals were scheduled to take place, will still host their premier combined event at the Caja Magica in September.

“It’s the inconsistencies that I find tedious. Two months before the Davis Cup was meant to be playing we are playing at the same venue in Madrid for the masters. In regards to the crowds there seemed to be a fair bit of social distancing at this event last year,” John Millman wrote on Twitter.

It appears that there could be a more substantial financial reason to postpone the Kosmos-backed event. Investment company Kosmos was founded by Gerard Pique and has pledged millions into the Davis Cup in a deal to help revamp it. French newspaper L’Equipe have quoted sources reporting that the event lost an astonishing 50 million euros in 2019, which was the first year where the new format took place. Furthermore, it has been reported that the decision to scrap November’s event will help save 18 million euros.

Furthermore, one senior figure at Tennis Canada has suggested that Pique had tried to do everything he could to prevent the tournament from taking place. Louis Borfiga, who serves as his country’s Vice President of High Performance, said he believes there has been no meetings with the federations prior to Friday’s announcement.

“While everyone is doing everything possible to try to replay, I have the impression that Piqué did everything to prevent the Davis Cup from taking place this year,” he said in a separate interview with L’Equipe.
“ They (Kosmos leaders) put forward health reasons, I hope they are the right ones. They are going to have the right role. There is nothing we can say about health.”
“When I read the official press release, I am surprised by one thing. It is Piqué who speaks first, and the president of the ITF (David Haggerty) after. That too is shocking.” He added.

Borfiga is not alone in this view. Back in March tennis player Nicola Mahut criticised Pique for not being more optimistic about holding the finals this year. The Spaniard had previously said he was ‘pessimistic’ about having the event without fans.

“The message he sent through his statements is: ” If Madrid is complicated and we cannot do it, well it will be cancelled and he will save some money.” Mahut commented.

According to Diario AS, the Madrid economy will lose in the region of 50 million euros due to the finals not being held. Furthermore, it is estimated that 600 jobs would have been created to support the running of the tournament from start to finish.

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Davis Cup

Gerard Pique’s Pessimistic Davis Cup Outlook Blasted By French Tennis Star

The football player has been urged to ‘put more energy’ in finding a solution for the event to take place in 2020.

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Kosmos founder Gerard Pique has come under fire over his plans for the Davis Cup Finals later this year after recently casting doubt on the event taking place due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

 

Pique, whose company helped finance the transformation of the 120-year-old team competition, recently admitted that he was doubtful that the event could go ahead if crowds weren’t allowed to attend. Last year was the first time the new format of the competition took place with 18 teams featuring in a week-long round-robin tournament which was won by host nation Spain.

“I’m a bit pessimistic, to have the Davis Cup with no fans is difficult,” Pique told Movistar.
“There is a lot of uncertainty. We are listening to what the sport’s ministry and the government are telling us about whether we’ll have the ability to have fans.”

All professional tennis tournaments have been suspended since March due to the Pandemic. Officials are hoping to be able to get the sport going again in August ahead of the US Open that is scheduled to take place. Although some have doubts about the chances of the Tour’s starting by then, including world No.43 John Millman.

Amid the ongoing uncertainty, French tennis star Nicolas Mahut has criticized Pique’s bleak outlook for this year’s Davis Cup finale. The 38-year-old has represented his country in 13 ties, including the 2018 final as well as the semifinals in two other years.

“We don’t have a lot of information. But as a player, you can just trust the official statements. And when I hear Pique, I’m extremely disappointed,” Mahut told L’Equipe.

Mahut has called on Pique to explore more options such as potentially relocating the event to another country if it would make it safer for the event to go ahead. Implying that he was his duty to do so after setting ‘to destroy the formula’ of the event. Critics of the revamp have accused Pique of ruining the traditional competition.

“I would like him to put as much energy into saving the Davis Cup that he has set up. That is to say, to find solutions for it to take place in Madrid or elsewhere, as he has set to destroy the formula that had been in place for over a hundred years,” he said,
“The message he sent through his statements, is: ” If Madrid is complicated and we cannot do it, well it cancels and I save some money. ” And it bothers me a lot compared to what has happened for more than a year. We don’t play with this competition. Maybe that suits it.”

Kosmos has signed a $3 billion 25-year deal with the ITF to acquire the rights for the Davis Cup Finals.

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Davis Cup

Davis Cup Finals In Doubt, Admits Gerard Pique

The Kosmos founder explains why he isn’t too optimistic about the team event going ahead later this year.

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MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 24: Crowds of peoples during of the Davis Cup by Rakuten Madrid Finals 2019 at Caja Magica on November 24, 2019 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Pedro Salado / Kosmos Tennis)

The chances of this year’s Davis Cup Finals taking place are still up in the air with one of the key figures involved in the competition openly saying that he is ‘pessimistic’ about its chances.

 

Football star Gerard Pique is one the driving forces behind the new format following a huge financial investment from his company Kosmos. Signing a 25-year deal with the International Tennis Federation worth in the region of $3 billion. Despite the significant investment, Pique admits that he has low hopes of the event taking place later this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. All professional tennis tournaments have been halted since March.

“There is a lot of uncertainty, we try to be aware of what the government says regarding sports and to whether we can put spectators inside the Caja Magica,” Pique said during an interview with Movistar.
“I would say I am a bit pessimistic, because a Davis Cup without fans is difficult.
“I think that nobody at the moment has the certainty that we can put fans in or if it will have to be behind closed doors. As the days go by, I suppose we will have a little more clarity.”

Spain is currently in the process of relaxing some of their lockdown restrictions with tennis players being able to train at local facilities from next week. The country is following a four-stage plan with the hope that their premier La Liga football league will resume next month at some stage.

However, the issue for the Davis Cup is the limited number of fans that would be able to go to the tournament if it takes place. In more advanced stages of the plans, no more than 50 people can attend an indoor venue. Although the number could be increased by November, it will be a stark difference to 2019. Held at the Caja Magica, the total capacity of the premier court is 12,500 people.

Last year’s final saw Spain lift the title for the first time since 2011 after they defeated Canada in the final. The two teams are seeded third and sixth in this year’s draw.

The Davis Cup is scheduled to take place between November 23-29 in Madrid. The ATP, WTA and ITF will not restart their Tour’s until at least July 13th, however, there is speculation that the suspension will be extended in the coming weeks.

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