PREVIEW: All Set at Kooyong for the first round of 2016 Davis Cup between Australia - USA - UBITENNIS
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PREVIEW: All Set at Kooyong for the first round of 2016 Davis Cup between Australia – USA

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Both teams finally announced their line-ups for this first round clash between two former dominators of the competition. Let’s have a look at the venue and to some stats in preparation for the tie.

 

The heat is on: 40C today in Melbourne. The heat is on also for the Davis Cup as Australia and USA announced the line-ups for their clash in the first round of Davis Cup 2016 in Kooyong.

Led by captain Lleyton Hewitt, Australia will be represented by Hewitt himself, Bernard Tomic, Sam Groth and John Peers (double specialist, at his first Davis Cup appearance). Hewitt stands in as a replacement for the sick Nick Kyrgios. Jim Courier will have John Isner, Jack Sock, and the Bryan brothers.

Let’s have a look at some stats about the venue and the players.

The Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club is internationally renowned as “The Spiritual Home of Australian Tennis” (by the way if you want to join the club you better hurry up, as the waiting period is approximately ten years from application). What a better venue to host “the Davis Cup’s tie of ties“, between two nations which dominated the competition for over 30 years consecutively and won a total of 60 Davis Cups (32 for the USA and 28 for Australia).

For the occasion the centre court has been resurfaced with lawn to give an extra flair to the tie. This will be the 46th time the two nations meet, with the Americans leading the head-to-head 25-20. Last time they met was in the last century – 1999 – with Lleyton Hewitt and Pat Rafter winning their singles to claim a 4-1 victory over Jim Courier’s USA. Both Hewitt and Courier are now team’s captains.

The venue and its history

Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club

The Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club, known as the Lawn Tennis Association of Victoria, was established in 1892 in the posh suburb of Kooyong (median house price is Aus $3.4 million, a real bargain). Between 1946 and 2006, Australia hosted ten Davis Cup ties in this world famous venue, winning all of them apart from the first one.

  1. In 1946 Australia lost the World Group Challenge Round Final 5-0 to the Americans Jack Kramer and Ted Schroeder. Despite the final score, excitement was high for the first Davis Cup match in over 25 years.
  2. 1953 is considered the most epic one, when teenagers, Lew Hoad and Ken Rosewall defeated the USA Tony Trabert and Vic Seixas with a final score of 3-2 after trailing 1-2 after the doubles.
  3. 1957 was another 3-2 victory over the USA in Challenge Round.
  4. In 1961, during Challenge Round, Australia defeated Italy 5-0 with Roy Emerson and Rod Laver in singles, and Emerson and Neale Fraser in doubles.
  5. In 1966 Australia disposed of India 4-1 in Challenge Round, despite the upset of Newcombe and Roche in the doubles.
  6. 1973 was an Inter-Zone Final, where an ageing Rod Laver, John Newcombe and Ken Rosewell defeated Czechoslavakia 4-1.
  7. 1983 was somewhat a surprise. In the final, Cash, Fitzgerald, Edmondson and McNamee defeated 3-2 Sweden, led by Mats Wilander.
  8. Another final in 1986: again a victory, again against Sweden, again with Cash, McNamee and Fitzgerald. Pat Cash defeated Edberg and Pernfors (in an epic 5-setter after being down 2-0) to set up a 3-2 triumph for Australia.
  9. In 1993 in the first round Australia trashed USA 4-1, with Wally Masur and Mark Woodforde winning their singles, and the Woodies (Woodford-Woodbridge) sealing the victory in doubles.
  10. 2006 was the only tie played on rebound ace rather than grass; Lleyton Hewitt, Chris Guccione, Wayne Arthurs and Paul Hanley won 5-0 over Belarus 5-0

Kooyong has also been home of the Australian Open between 1972 and 1983, when the Grand Slam was moved to Melbourne Park, hosting the event since. Some of the champions on that centre court were Margaret Court, Evonne Goolagong Cawley, Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert-Lloyd in the women’s singles. Men’s champions included Ken Rosewall, John Newcombe, Mark Edmondson, Jimmy Connors, Roscoe Tanner,  Mats Wilander and Stefan Edberg.

So what will happen in the 2016 tie?

It is expected the singles rubbers will see Isner and Sock for the USA, and Tomic and Groth for Australia, while in the doubles Peers and Groth will try to upset the Bryan brothers.

Let’s have a look at the year to date performance of the players, and also their record on grass, starting from the hosting nation.

Currently ranked n. 21, Bernard Tomic‘s year to date record is  a win-loss of 8-5, with R32 in Delray Beach, QF in Quito, R16 at the Australian Open, QF in Sydney and SF in Brisbane. On grass he travels with a W/L record of 19/18, 73% first serve points won, 86% service game won,  15% return games won.

It’s expected that Sam Groth (ATP singles 75, doubles 115) will play the singles. He currently has a win-loss record of 12-8 on grass, with 82% first serve points won, 89% service game won and  8% return games won.

Lleyton Hewitt comes in as a late replacement for Kyrgios. The 35-year-old has an outstanding Davis Cup record, winning more matches than any other Australian player in history (42-14). The team Captain enjoyed a strong record on grass during his career. Between 2000- 2014, Hewitt reached ten ATP finals on grass, including his win at the 2002 Wimbledon championships.  Despite only being named as a sub for the upcoming tie, an appearance in the doubles is a strong possibility.

Finally, John Peers is a doubles specialist, currently ranked n.9 in doubles, with 7 titles won in his career (6 of which with Jamie Murray, one this year in Brisbane with Finnish player Henri Kontinen) and two grand slam finals in 2015 (both lost) at Wimbledon and Flashing Meadows. He has defeated the Bryan brothers three times, twice on clay, once on grass (Queen’s 2014) and has a YTD win-loss record 8-3.

USA’s line-up will have big John Isner (ATP 11) who from his 208 cm makes the Aussies (all taller than 190 cm) look like little guys. Isner’s record so far this year is a not-so-exciting Win-loss of 4-4, with R32 Rio, R16 Buenos Aires, R16 at the Australian Open and QF in Auckland. His record on grass is 28/17 and 2 titles. He has got a record of 80% first serve points won, 94% service game won,  8% return games won.

Sock is currently ranked ATP n.23, with a YTD record of 5-3 coming from a R32 in Rio, a R64 at the Australian Open,  and a final in Auckland; on grass he is at 9-6, with (only) 74% first serve points won, 84% service game won,  16% return games won.

The Bryan brothers will play the doubles. Honestly, not much to be said about them, unless you want to write a book. These identical twins, born in 1978, are the most successful duo of all time. Currently ranked ATP n.5 they dominated the doubles for around 10 years,  with 109 and 111 titles for Bob and Mike respectively amongst which one Davis Cup in 2007, 4 World Tour Finals, 16 grand slam titles (3 on grass at Wimbledon in 2006, 2011, 2013), and the Olympics (London 2012).

The head to head sees USA prevailing so far, even if the stats are meagre:

Isner is leading Tomic 1-0 (2012 Delray Beach QF hard) and has never played Groth. Sock has defeated Tomic twice (2014 Shanghai R64 hard, 2013 Stockholm R32 hard) but lost to Groth on grass at Wimbledon.

If you survived the statistics so far, let’s avoid death-by-stats and finish up mentioning the performances on grass in 2015:

Tomic: R32 Halle (Johnson) QF Stuttgart (Nadal) R32 Newport (JP Smith) R32 Wimbledon (Djokovic)

Groth: QF Stuttgart (Troicki) R32 Nottingham (sousa) R32 Wimbledon (Federer)

Isner: QF Queens (Troicki) R32 Newport (Ram) R32 Wimbledon (Cilic)

Sock: SF Newport (Karlovic) R128 Wimbledon (Groth)

The winner of this tie will play the winner of Croatia and Belgium in the quarterfinals.

Edited by Adam Addicott

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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 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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