While Isner focuses on serving aces – a total of 49 – Tomic blames Kyrgios for faking his illness and his injured wrist; as a result the USA win the rubber and the tie
It could have been Australia’s resurrection, taking the USA to the decider (with Hewitt possibly taking to court again), instead Isner displayed a spotless performance and his huge serve (“it’s breath-taking watching him serve the way he did” says Jim Courier at the press conference) against a listless Tomic (“it looked like he was playing possum during the warm up” says Isner at the press conference) who showed intensity only in a few games. Isner was always in control during his serving games and took every opportunity on Tomic’s soft flat balls to bury down Australia’s hope.
A sunny Sunday in Melbourne and perfect conditions for a tennis match with temperature just shy of 30C; the centre court at Kooyong Lawn Tennis club is as crowded as loud, hoping in a comeback by the Aussies, trailing 1-2 after yesterday’s doubles. The stakes are high and the Aussie crowd responded splendidly filling every seat at Kooyong. The Fanatics are chanting and singing and inspiring the rest of the patrons. A few minutes past 11AM the rubber starts, with Isner trying to get the decisive point against Tomic to give USA the victory.
Tomic starts serving well, Isner better. Tomic is a baseline player, but it’s usually Isner to win the medium-length rallies, waiting for a slow sliced backhand by Tomic and then attacking him with an inside out forehand on Tomic’s backhand and closing with a volley. On 2-2 Tomic is up 40-15 but then faces a break point which the American converts with the usual attack on Tomic’s backhand and easy forehand volley. That is basically a set point. Isner keeps on serving brilliantly with 72% of first serve, aces (10 for him in the first set) travelling at 247 km/h and kick serves on the second serve, leaving only 2 points to Tomic on his serve in the first set. Tomic’s ball is usually flat and soft, giving Isner plenty of opportunities to move on the forehand and put pressure on the Aussie. On 5-4 Isner goes up 40-0 and converts the first set point, for a final 6-4 in less than half an hour.
The second set flows very similar, with Tomic losing mobility, and sending some backhands wide. The notorious 7th game is the key: Isner has just changed his racquet. The American passes Tomic with a great forehand along the line passing shot, and a successful attack brings him to 0-30 and then 15-40. The 2 break points are saved by a serve and a forehand unforced error by Isner. Tomic is stiff on his legs and is surprised by a return landing at his feet. A double fault gives the American a third break point, which is saved, but it’s just a matter of time and Tomic again still on his legs sends an easy backhand in the net. USA leads 4-3 and 2 minutes later 5-3 with an ace on a kicked second serve by Isner, who then take the set 6-4 with a trivial error on the net by Tomic which reminds me of my social tennis matches rather than World Group Davis Cup. A total of five points so far for Tomic on Isner’s serve.
Nothing really changes in the third set, despite the Fanatics singing “Eyes of the Tiger” at every point by the Aussie. Tomic does not put any pressure on Isner when returning. His body language suggests he would rather be anywhere else rather than on a tennis court, and during a change of ends says to Hewitt “He [Kyrgios] has faked it twice, sitting down there in Canberra. Bullshit that he’s sick“. Can’t wait for Nick’s reply on Twitter. The accident was discussed at the press conference with Tomic confirming his stand, especially after talking to Kyrgios over the phone after the match “He told me he is still ill but will be better tomorrow and is playing in Indian Wells. If he plays Indian Wells he will lose a lot of my respect […] It’s the same situation as it happened last year […]” Hewitt instead dismisses any doubt “we had a fitness check on Thursday morning and he just was not fit”.
Tomic manages one way or another to hold serve and for the first time goes up 6-5. Then out of nowhere he is up 40-30. That’s not only the first break point of the match, but also a set point. Isner saves it with his serve followed by a forehand winner. Finally you can see intensity in Tomic’s eyes. Tomic gets a second set point, saved by an ace and a fourth, guess what? saved by an ace. Either there is something wrong is the speed camera or Isner aces now at 253 km/h (16 in this set only). However, a backhand passing shot along the line gives the Aussie the set point number 5 which is finally converted thanks to a forehand in the net by Isner. 7-5 Tomic and the match is unexpectedly re-opened. Tomic has made more point on Isner’s serve in that game than in all previous returning games together.
Tomic now shows belief in himself and hold serves to love in 2 consecutive games, but Isner keeps on serving formidably well and pressing from the baseline in case Tomic returns the serve. The tension surges and the central court explodes at every point Tomic makes. It’s 4-4 with 41 aces by Isner so far and 74% of first serve in. Isner though is not as sharp as before when returning Tomic serve, which is often slow but very sliced, sliding away on the grass (a total of 15 aces for him in the rubber). We reach the same situation of the previous set, with Isner serving to stay in the set. This time though he delivers 3 aces in the first three points and then holds serve taking Tomic to a dramatic tie-break which could mean the rubber and tie.
Tomic starts with an ace, followed by a cross court forehand winner to take a 2-0 lead. On 3-1 Isner breaks back: it’s the decisive momentum swing, which the American consolidates with ace n. 48 and a winning serve. In the only real rally of the tie-break a funky bounce makes Tomic losing his rhythm and committing an unforced error, which gives USA the break 4-5. Isner serves an ace but the net machine calls a let … a replica of the previous serve, which Tomic can just touch but cannot control, takes the USA to 6-4: it’s tie point. And guess what? Isner closes it with an ace (n.49), for a final 6-4, 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 in 2:15 and 3-1 USA.
Isner has been absolutely impressive on serve with 49 aces, 76% of first serve, but the key has been the percentage of points won on second serve: 68% for Isner, only 56% for Tomic, who was never able to put pressure on the American when returning, apart from the 12th game of the third set, and showed lack of energy, mobility and fighting spirit for at least 2 sets and a half. “After the last couple of years it has been massive for us” comments Jim Courier at the press conference “It was a tough match on paper and on the court“.
From Melbourne, Robbie Cappuccio
Roger Federer Cast Doubt On Return To Davis Cup
The Swiss Maestro addresses his future in the team competition.
20-time grand slam champion Roger Federer has admitted that there is a chance that he may not play in the Davis Cup again before he retires from the sport.
The former world No.1 hasn’t played in the team competition since 2015. This year the event has undergone a major revamp with the help of financial backing from investment company Kosmos. In November 18 teams will travel to Madrid and play in a week-long round-robin format. Removing the tradition of home and away ties. Both Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have confirmed they will be playing in the event.
One of the most notable absentees from the event will be Federer as Switzerland hasn’t qualified for the finals. However, the 38-year-old has in the past voiced his concerns over Gerald Pique’s involvement. Pique is the founder of Kosmos.
“I put in a lot of energy into the Davis Cup over the years.” Federer told reporters in Shanghai.
“I played a lot of matches. It’s been a lot of work. Winning (the title) in 2014 was a dream come true for Stan and me and the team, and Rosset, even though he was not on the team, he thought it was the greatest thing ever, and it was.”
Federer has represented his country in 27 Davis ties during his career and has won 52 out of 70 matches played. He has won more matches in the competition than any other player from his country. Whilst boasting a strong record, Federer admits that he is uncertain about playing in the event again.
“I have not officially retired from the Davis Cup, so that means I don’t know what to tell you, maybe, but obviously more likely no than yes, as I’m getting older and I have other things I would like to also do and go to places I have never played before.” Federer replied when asked about his future in the Davis Cup.
“It’s one thing and then having the four children and the wife is another. I just can’t be everywhere. I always said when you play the Davis Cup you have to miss out on Masters 1000. Is that worth the give? Not always. Not for me anyway.”
In recent years Federer has applied his focus to another team event – the Laver Cup, which he co-founded. From 2020 there will be three team tournaments taking place on the men’s tour every year due to the revival in the ATP Cup in January.
“Federer was the only player reluctant to play this new Davis Cup.” Pique told Spanish TV programme e ’El Hormiguero’.
“He has the Laver Cup too and, whatever you say, there is bound to be some competition.
“It is not easy. We are there working and I think that in the end we will understand each other.”
The Davis Cup finals will get underway on November 18th at the Caja Magica, which is the venue of the Madrid Open. Meanwhile, at the same time Federer will be going on a tour of South America where he will play a series of exhibition matches. Alexander Zverev and Juan Martin del Potro will join him on parts of the tour.
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.
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