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
Former Tennis Star Robin Soderling Appointed Davis Cup Captain
The former world No.4 is hoping to make waves in the team competition.
Robin Sodering has taken on a new role in the world of tennis after being appointed the captain of the Swedish Davis Cup team on Wednesday.
The 35-year-old takes over from Johan Hedsberg, who has held the role since January 2017. Soderling is a former world No.4 player and the last player from his country to contest a grand slam final at the 2010 French Open. After winning 10 ATP titles, his career came to an abrupt end after he failed to recover from a long-term illness. Soderling was hit by mononucleosis in 2011, a viral illness also known as glandular fever. He spent four years away from the tour before officially retiring in 2015.
“Being able to lead the best players in the country is an honour, so it was a pretty easy decision.” He told tennis.se.
“I have not thought about this, but when the question came, I immediately felt that I wanted to do this. I want it to go well for Swedish tennis.”
Sweden has won the Davis Cup seven times with their most recent triumph occurring back in 1998. They are currently playing in Group I of the Europe/Africa zone. This season the team managed to reach the World Group playoffs, but suffered a 4-0 defeat to Colombia. Sweden last played in the top tier of the competition back in 2012.
Soderling had been working with Elias Ymer, who is currently ranked 176th in the world. He is the brother of world No.76 Mikael Ymer, who is Sweden’s top men’s player. The reason for the end of their collaboration was because Soderling wanted to spend more time with his family. He is married with two children under the age of 10.
“I worked with Elias Ymer for a year and thought it was fun and educational. It was as close as you can get to your own career when playing yourself.” He said.
“But it became too much for me with over 30 trips a year. It didn’t work with my family situation. Maybe I listened too much to “Fidde” (Fredrik Rosengren) who said he had not seen his children in 25 years. I wasn’t prepared for that. I received questions after the assignment with Elias but declined no.’
“This assignment as the Davis Cup captain does not mean as many trips and given that I like tennis overall and above all Swedish tennis, the choice was easy.”
Soderling’s first test will be in March when his country takes on Chile on home soil. A team who has two top 100 players in singles. The winner will be moved into the 18-team Davis Cup finals, which was launched for the first time this year.
“Sweden has certainly not been favourites in all those matches. They have done really well.” He stated.
“If you look at the (Swedish) team, we have a good team with Mikael and Elias Ymer even though we are not super wide overall compared to many other countries that have several players in the top 100. But we are competitive and actually play for a place in Madrid against the world best team.”
During his playing career, Soderling played in 10 Davis Cup ties and won 14 out of 18 matches.
The ITF Reacts With Caution To Russian Doping Ban
Ubitennis contacted a member of the governing body following the decision to suspend the nation from all major sporting events.
The International Tennis Federation has said it will wait until an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) from Russia is made before pondering any potential implications it may have on tennis.
On Monday the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) slammed the country with a four-year ban from hosting or attending ‘major sporting events.’ Including the 2020 Olympics and 2022 World Cup. Russia was issued with the penalty for continuous breaches of anti-doping rules. The most recent being evidence that they deliberately tampered with laboratory data by planting fake evidence to cover up failed drugs tests.
The decision to ban Russia was unanimously made, according to a spokesman from WADA. In 2015 an extensive report revealed a state-sponsored doping programme on a mass scale. Resulting in Russia being suspended from international athletics events, including the 2016 Olympics, but they were still allowed to compete as neutral athletes.
“For too long, Russian doping has detracted from clean sport. The blatant breach by the Russian authorities of Rusada’s reinstatement conditions demanded a robust response. That is exactly what has been delivered.” WADA chief Sir Craig Reedie said.
“Russia was afforded every opportunity to get its house in order and rejoin the global anti-doping community for the good of its athletes and of the integrity of sport, but it chose instead to continue in its stance of deception and denial.”
Following the announcement, Ubitennis contacted the ITF to establish their stance on the decision. The governing body is recognised by WADA. Heather Bowler, who is the ITF’s executive director of communications, points out that throughout the investigation, none of the doping violations have been linked to tennis.
“According to the WADA decision issued earlier today (Monday), Russian athletes will only be eligible to compete in major competitions subject to satisfying certain conditions listed by the WADA Compliance Review Committee.“ Bowler said in a statement.
“The ITF is not currently aware of any Russian tennis player having been mentioned in incriminating circumstances in the McLaren Report (2016) nor has any evidence been provided to the ITF at this time in relation to the manipulation, alteration or deletion of anti-doping data in the Moscow anti-doping laboratory’s database.” She added.
Unless there is a successful appeal made, Russian tennis players will only be allowed to participate in the upcoming Olympics under a neutral status. Meaning they are not allowed to fly their own flag. Furthermore if somebody such as Daniil Medvedev wins a gold medal, the Russian national anthem will not be played during the medal ceremony.
Bowler states that all Russian players have been tested under the sport’s own anti-doping controls and not just that of the controversial RUSDA. Indicating that it is unlikely that they will be banned from ITF events such as the Davis Cup unless a new significant discovery arises. The WADA’s definition of a ‘major sporting event’ is confusing at best. They are still allowed to host football matches during the 2020 European Championships because Uefa isn’t classed as a ‘major event organisation.’
“Tennis has a zero tolerance anti-doping policy. All players competing at Grand Slams and ITF, WTA and ATP sanctioned events are subject to the WADA-compliant Tennis Anti-Doping Programme (TADP); a comprehensive programme which includes athlete biological passports, in-competition and out-of-competition testing and the year-round whereabouts programme. Russian players will have been tested under the TADP, outside of Russia.” Bowler outlines.
“WADA’s decision is subject to appeal by RUSADA. For that reason, we will not comment further until that process has reached its final conclusion and we have had the opportunity to review its outcome.”
Kafelnikov – ‘There was a doping system’
Following the verdict, former world No.1 and 2000 Olympic champion Yevgeny Kafelnikov spoke out. The 45-year-old is now the deputy head of the Russian Tennis Federation. Talking with national media, he blamed those directly involved in the doping programme for not admitting their guilt. Saying that it has resulted in athletes getting unfairly punished. Whilst some officials have doubted the allegation of a state doping system, Kafelnikov has stated the opposite.
“There was a doping system in Russia, I have no doubt about it. Someone must be punished for this.” sport-express.ru quoted him as saying.
“Russian sports could have a reputation if those people, a group of people who started all this, just went out and said: “Yes, I’ve messed up, please forgive me.” I am sure that then in this case there could be some relief for Russian athletes. But no one wants to take responsibility for this. As a result, everything is shifted to poor athletes.”
As for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Kafelnikov has urged his fellow compatriot to still attend the event under a neutral flag if the appeal fails. Saying the event is a priority for ‘every self-respecting athlete.’ During his career, he only participated in the four-year sporting event once.
“If I faced such a dilemma: to go to the Olympics under a neutral flag or to refuse to play for the national team, I would go under a neutral flag,” said Kafelnikov.
“For any self-respecting athlete, the Olympic Games are a priority.”
As of this week, there are 11 Russian tennis players in the top 100. Three on the men’s tour and eight of the women.
Former Grand Slam Champion Hits Out At ‘Abysmal’ Davis Cup
Australia’s most successful doubles player in Davis Cup history isn’t happy about the changes made to team event.
Former world No.1 Doubles player Todd Woodbridge has taken a fresh swipe at the revamped Davis Cup and their allocation of wild cards for the 2020 finals.
The 48-year-old has blasted the format of the historic team event following major changes that was made this year. Last month was the first time the finals took place over a week with 18 teams participating in one location in Madrid. At the event there was a few blips with the scheduling being at times problematic. Highlighted by the tie between the USA and Italy that went on until 4am.
Despite the issues, there were also positives to be taken away from the event, which was won by Spain. However, Woodbridge remains a critic. The Australian is his country’s most successful doubles player in the history of the Davis Cup with 25 wins under his belt. Overall, he played in 32 ties over a 14-year period (1991-2005).
“The tennis itself has been brilliant, the organisation has been abysmal,” Woodbridge said on Australian programme Sports Sunday.
“Everything from IT issues, to playing matches that finish at 4am, and then today the ITF go, ‘Well we’re going to put in more wild cards.”
It is the wild cards decision that has irritated the 16-time grand slam champion the most. Recently it was announced that Serbia and France has been handed passes into the finals next November. Meaning that will not have to go through the play-off ties. Woodbridge has suggested the move was deliberately made in order to persuade Novak Djokovic to play in the event again.
“They’ve given wild cards this week, for 12 months’ time. You’ve got to ask the question, how can you do that? It looks like they’re guaranteeing Novak Djokovic a spot for next year … ‘We want you back so we’re going to guarantee you can be there, you don’t have to play the qualifying match earlier in the year,” he said.
“And then France have also been put in, so you’ve got to ask the question, the President of the ITF is also French and I’m sure he’s had a big influence in that discussion. They’ve got so many things to fix if it’s going to be a success next year.
“The biggest issue was crowd. We (Australia) played our first match with about 400 people watching, and that’s a great disappointment.”
Gerard Pique if the founder of Kosmos, whose investment has enabled the transformation of the Davis cup. In a recent interview with Spanish media, he said the allocation of a wild card to France was done so the country ‘feel part of the competition because the format will continue like this.’
“We’re delighted with how everything went and above all with the final, which Spain won,” he told Onda Cero about the 2019 Davis Cup finals. “There are things which need to be improved, like the times of the games, which has an easy solution in the form of adding another court and changing the times a little bit.”
The 2020 Davis Cup qualifying rounds will get underway in March.
Three Things We Learned From Novak Djokovic’s Pre-Australian Open Press Conference
Elena Rybakina claims the second title of her career in Hobart
Ugo Humbert claims the first title of his career after winning all-French final against Benoit Paire in Auckland
Roger Federer Plays Down Air Quality Concerns Ahead Of Australian Open
Andrey Rublev starts the year with back-to-back titles in Doha and Adelaide
Roger Federer And Rafael Nadal Branded ‘Selfish’ As Fallout Over Australian Open Conditions Continue
Roger Federer Responds To Criticism From Environmental Activists
Rafael Nadal Undaunted By Growing Threat From The Next Gen
Rafael Nadal Seeks Improvement Ahead Of 2020 Season
Fabio Fognini and Flavia Pennetta become parents for the second time
(VIDEO) Season’s Greetings From Ubitennis
(VIDEO) Davis Cup Round-Up: Rafael Nadal Leads Spain To Victory
(VIDEO) Davis Cup Day 2: Historic Day For Canada As Spain Prevail In Late-Night Thriller
(VIDEO) Roger Federer, Alexander Zverev Guide Europe To Laver Cup Glory
(VIDEO) US Open Day 14: Rafael Nadal Ends The Tournament With An Extraordinary Win
ATP2 days ago
‘Bone Bruising’ Delays Andy Murray’s Comeback
Latest news3 days ago
Mixed Fortunes For Grand Slam Champions Ash Barty And Simona Halep In Adelaide
Hot Topics2 days ago
‘There Are Others Better Than Him’ – Alexander Zverev Downplays Kyrgios’ Australian Open Chances
ATP3 days ago
John Isner battles past Kyle Edmund to reach the semifinal in Auckland
Hot Topics2 days ago
Fast Courts A Problem For Rafael Nadal At Australian Open, Says Wilander
WTA3 days ago
Heather Watson upsets Elise Mertens to reach the semifinal in Hobart
ATP3 days ago
Andrey Rublev set to clash against Felix Auger Aliassime in the semifinal in Adelaide
Latest news1 day ago
John McEnroe: “Jannik Sinner is one of the most talented players I have seen in the last years”