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

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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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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Davis Cup

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.

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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.

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Davis Cup

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.’

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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.

THE GROUPS
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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