Davis Cup: Preview of the First Weekend - UBITENNIS
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Davis Cup: Preview of the First Weekend

Jakub Bobro

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All the tennis fans know that the upcoming three days will bring us the biggest team competition in men’s tennis- Davis Cup. Many exciting match ups are coming up during these three days and I’ll try to preview them and give you my most educated guess on the winner of each match and each tie. 

 

Great Britain – Japan

The defending champions of Davis Cup will start their 2016 campaign against Japan on their home soil, at the indoor hard courts of Birmingham. Both teams brought their top 10 players (Murray, Nishikori) for this tie, making it really attractive for the viewing audience. Great Britain had to deal with a withdrawal from Kyle Edmund, but they hopefully found a good replacement in Daniel Evans. Taro Daniel is scheduled to be Japan’s No. 2. Overall, I predict Great Britain to take the win 3-1, with Andy Murray winning both of his matches in singles, and for Great Britain to take the doubles rubber.

Serbia – Kazakhstan

Novak Djokovic is leading the Serbian charge against Kazakhstan in Belgrade. Serbia is definitely the favorite in this tie, as both Djokovic and Troicki will be the higher ranked in their matches against Nedovyesov and Kukushkin respectively. There were question marks over Novak Djokovic, after he retired from Dubai with eye problems. The World No. 1 is also scheduled to appear in the doubles tie with the 40-years old doubles specialist Nenad Zimonjic. Djokovic and Zimonjic have already been confirmed as a team that will compete together at the Olympics, and it definitely will be interesting to see them in action together for the first time this year. Their opponents are to be Aleksandr Nedovyesov and Andrey Golubev. The team nominations are completed by youngsters on either side, Filip Krajinovic for Serbia, and Dmitry Popko for Kazakhstan. My prediction for this tie is for Serbia to clench the win 3-0, in ‘straight rubbers’. I won’t attempt to predict the ‘dead rubbers’ (rubbers played after one team already won), since players don’t always give their best effort in them and substitutions are bound to be made.

Italy – Switzerland

Both teams are strongly weakened, Italy without Fognini and the Swiss without Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka. Italy has a stronger team, with Seppi and Lorenzi being their singles players on the opening day. Switzerland is fielding their two other Top 200 players, Henri Laaksonen and Marco Chiudinelli, for all of their singles and doubles matches. Playing into Italy’s cards is also their choice of surface- clay. If the tie was put on indoor hard courts, the chances for the Swiss would be much higher. The Italians have several choices for their doubles, as Cecchinato and Seppi reached the 3rd round at the Australian Open, but Italy also has Simone Bolelli, who is a Top 20 doubles player. I don’t believe that either Chiudinelli nor Laaksonen have the skills to pull of the upset on clay, in singles or doubles, thus making Italy win 3-0. A more detailed preview can be found here.

Poland – Argentina

There was a lot of curiosity about the court that this tie will be played on at the Ergo Arena in Gdansk. It was called ‘ultra fast’ by the Argentines and ITF was called to check the speed of the court, but it was within the regulations. Although Poland is struck down by injury woes. With Jerzy Janowicz and Kamil Majchrzak having to withdraw, the Polish will not have a Top 300 player in this round. However, both Przysiezny and Hurkacz work very well with a fast indoor court, as the Argentine team of Mayer, Pella, Berlocq and Olivo all prefer clay. However, I still don’t predict an upset on the first day, so both rubbers would be won by Argentina, however the Przysiezny – Pella match will be tough and I expect it to go into 5 sets. Poland has the advantage of a core doubles team of Lukasz Kubot and Marcin Matkowski, who should defeat any pair of players that should come their way from the Argentine roster. Leonardo Mayer should then seal the deal and take the win home 3-1.

France – Canada

The French made the smart choice of putting the tie on clay, thus slimming the chances of Raonic and Pospisil. I thought that it would backfire on them, that the players who have already fulfilled their Olympic requirements would skip the tie, so they wouldn’t have to change from clay to hard court. However France brought their strongest team of Gasquet, Tsonga, Monfils and Simon, and Canada was the one whose team was weakened by injuries of Milos Raonic and Daniel Nestor. These players were replaced by Philipp Bester and Adil Shamasdin. Gael Monfils and Gilles Simon were picked by Yannick Noah for the opening day singles against Vasek Pospisil and Frank Dancevic. The projected doubles teams are Richard Gasquet and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga against Vasek Pospisil and Philipp Bester. I would really be surprised if Canada managed to win a match in this tie, so my prediction is 3-0 for France. However if I had to pick a match in which they would win it, it would be the doubles.

Germany – Czech Republic

Germany really surprised me when they picked Indoor Hard over Indoor Clay. Both countries fielded their best teams for this tie. This tie could truly go either way and it will very much depend on the form of the players on that day. The play will start with Philipp Kohlschreiber against Lukas Rosol. The second match will be played between Alexander Zverev and Tomas Berdych. I wouldn’t be surprised by any results that come off from this day, but my prediction is that Kohlschreiber will win in 5 sets and Berdych will win in 4. In doubles, Dustin Brown and Philipp Petzschner will represent Germany, and Czech Republic will have Jiri Vesely and Radek Stepanek, however I do expect Berdych and Stepanek to play. I expect Czech Republic to win the doubles, and the Berdych to win the tie for the Czech Republic.

Australia – USA

The tie is already underway, however we at Ubitennis have the luxury of having an on-site writer for this tie, and you can find his preview here.

Belgium – Croatia

Last year’s surprise finalist will once again have the opportunity of playing on Indoor Clay at home, this time against Croatia. Both teams are slightly weakened, Belgium is missing Steve Darcis and Croatia will have to deal with the withdrawal of Marin Draganja. First day will offer the match between two young guns, David Goffin and Borna Coric. Marin Cilic will face Kimmer Coppejans in the other match. I predict Goffin and Cilic to take the wins on Day 1, Croatia to win the doubles, Goffin to equal at 2-2 and Borna Coric to finish the tie in the decisive rubber.

[Pictures To Be Added]

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Davis Cup

EXCLUSIVE Interview With US Davis Cup Captain Mardy Fish: “If Davis Cup Fails, We All Fail”

Mardy Fish takes the reins of the US Davis Cup team and feels very strongly about the new format for the competition: “If you love Davis Cup you have to support it, even with this format”

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After Jim Courier’s resignation from the role of US Davis Cup Captain last September after the defeat in the 2018 semifinal against Croatia, the USTA decided to take their time and make some changes to the duties required by the role. Following Courier’s suggestion that “the new captain should be someone closer in age to the players”, the United States Tennis Association decided to trust former world no.7 Mardy Fish with this important responsibility, also making him a key figure in the Player Development Program, expanding the role of captain into a year-round presence at tournaments around the world to provide a bigger support to players.

 

While we were covering the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Mardy found the time to talk to Ubitennis over the phone from his house in California and provided some insight into this new adventure for him.

What can you tell us about your first few months in your new role?

It’s been a fun few months, adjusting from the role of peer to the other players to that of captain. I have found a lot of respect towards me from the other players and this is obviously a great thing. I have always been a huge fan of Davis Cup, I have always said yes whenever I had the opportunity to play it, and it’s an honor to be in this role.

You retired a few years ago from professional tennis: how do you feel about getting back on the road now that your life is structured in a different way?

My life at home has been quite established, with my wife and my two kids, but I have been doing a bit of personal traveling for some exhibitions and for golfing. This role will not require a lot of traveling, I will just do what I need to create some camaraderie in the team: I have spent a few days in Indian Wells, from Tuesday to Saturday, I will be a few days in Miami, then I won’t be around much for the European season and I will travel again to tournaments in the summer. I just need the players to know that they have my support and the support of the USTA if it’s needed.

What do you think about the new formula for the Davis Cup?

I think it’s too early to tell right now, we will find out how it goes. On paper the formula sounds awesome, the time was right for a change, although I’m not sure if it was necessary to make it as drastic as this. I know there are some people that feel very strongly against this new formula, but this means that people are passionate about Davis Cup, they really care about it.
The date in the calendar for the Finals is quite tough though. But at the end of the day, if it’s Davis Cup the majority of players will find a way to participate and I’m convinced we will get an excellent field.
As far as the US Team is concerned, I don’t foresee any availability issue from our players, especially the younger ones: they are very excited about playing for the USA, the National Team is in a lot of conversations among our players. I can’s speak for other countries, I know some of them have pledged not to play with the new format, but what we need to remember is that we are all responsible for Davis Cup: if Davis Cup fails, we all fail, we are all together on the same boat. For example, the Australian players are all very passionate about Davis Cup, they love it, and that is fantastic. But if they don’t support it, it’s not going to work.

With the new formula, a team getting to the final will need to play six ties in seven days: how important do you think it will be to have a ‘long bench’?

I think it will be important to bring players who play only singles and other players who play only doubles. I believe that teams that only have one or two players, as it could be for Russia, and relying on them to play both singles and doubles could get into a bit of a situation should they get to the business end of the competition, because their players may get there quite tired. We are lucky in that sense because we can have someone like Jack Sock who could play doubles leaving the singles guys free to worry about the singles.

Tennis politics have recently made the headlines with Chris Kermode not being renewed as the ATP CEO. What is your take on this?

I have spoken to some of the guys who are in the Players’ Council and once again I need to stress that they do what they do because they act with passion. They are passionate about tennis, they act out of love for the game even if their ranking is not high. I know Kermode personally from when he was the Tournament Directors at the Queen’s Tournament and everything was perfect for me; I don’t have direct experience with him at the helm of the ATP, I had already retired when he took the reins of the organization.

A few weeks ago the ITF decided the composition of the Round Robin phase of the Davis Cup Final and the US team will be in the same group as Italy and Canada. Can you tell us about these teams?

Well, Canada has the right mix of experience and youth: Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger Aliassime are going to be there for a long time, and Milos [Raonic] will be able to give them all the support they need. Similarly, Italy has an established core of players such as Fabio Fognini and Andreas Seppi that will be supplemented by Marco Cecchinato, whom I know him anyway because he is was my opponent in my last match ever at the US Open.
I am very confident about our chances in this group: we have three top 60 players who are still 21 years old or younger, who are Tiafoe, Fritz and Opelka. Tiafoe has just reached the Quarterfinals of the Australian Open, and that’s not a result that you can improvise, you need to beat good players to get there. They will be the core of our team for the years to come, and they will be helped by more established veterans like John [Isner] or Sam [Querrey].

 

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Davis Cup

BNP Paribas Ends Their 17 Year Sponsorship With Davis Cup

BNP Paribas will no longer sponsor the Davis Cup after 17 years.

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Gerard Pique and David Haggerty (@TennisReporters - Twitter)

BNP Paribas have ended their 17 year title sponsorship with the Davis Cup as they rebrand to the world cup of tennis. 

 

The move was announced in a press release as BNP Paribas look to focus on sponsoring the Fed Cup as well as the junior and wheelchair events.

It is clear that the move has been finalised due to the Davis Cup’s new 18 team format which will be tested in November this year in Madrid.

Although there has been criticism of the new event this is the first time a sponsorship has been dropped from the Davis Cup and the banking company’s intent.

Head of communications, Bertrand Cizeau, explained his decision, “We decided with the ITF to conclude the ‘Davis Cup by BNP Paribas’ partnership as the competition format evolves,” Cizeau explained.

“During 17 years, we have been happy alongside fans, players and local audiences, all around the world, and to have fuelled their passion during unforgettable matches.”

The move is certainly stunning to the ITF but their president David Haggerty did thank BNP Paribas for their contribution, “BNP Paribas has made a vast contribution to the success of the Davis Cup as a title sponsor over the past 17 years,” Haggerty said.

“We are proud of the great work we have achieved together for Davis Cup, and we look forward to continuing our relationship across a number of properties from the grassroots to the top of the game.”

The dedicated partner will continue to work with the ITF with a variety of schemes and projects including developing the Junior and Wheelchair events.

However with talk of a 12 team Fed Cup event similar to the Davis Cup one, would BNP Paribas stop its partnership with the Fed Cup and how would that impact the ITF?

As for David Haggerty he will now aim to rebrand the competition into the ‘Davis Cup, World Cup Of Tennis,’ as many see this as a significant change in the history of the competition that has now gone on for 118 years.

 

 

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Davis Cup

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

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(@IsUpdate1)

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.

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