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

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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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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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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