Czechs Reach Another Fed Cup Final After Drama In Lucerne. - UBITENNIS
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Fed Cup

Czechs Reach Another Fed Cup Final After Drama In Lucerne.

Today was an especially eventful day at Lucerne, Switzerland; at least tennis-wise. Karolina Pliskova took the lead on Day 2 for the Czechs, defeating Timea Bacsinszky 6-4 6-2. Viktorija Golubic then pulled off another amazing upset, coming back from a set down against Barbora Strycova, ultimately winning 3-6 7-6(6) 6-1. The disadvantage of having only 3 players on the team has proven in the final doubles, when a fatigued Golubic had to come back for the deciding doubles rubber with Martina Hingis. They fell to the Czech team of Pliskova and Hradecka 2-6 2-6 and lost the tie.

Jakub Bobro

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The Czech captain Petr Pala commented on the dramatic win and why does he think they came out on top today.”It was sensational the way they played. The key was the depth of our team today. It gave me more opportunities to make the doubles team. It is a great feeling for the camp. The spirit is there, everybody wants to win the cup.”

 

Bacsinszky and Pliskova have failed their duty as team No. 1 to take the win, but after getting upset, they had to get their heads back in the game for a mutual match. Bacsinszky was playing a lot better than yesterday, but it still wasn’t enough to defeat the tall Czech. The first set was very level, neither of the players were dominating. However Bacsinszky had break points at 1-0 and 2-1 which she didn’t confirm. Pliskova then finally got the first break in the match at 4-4. Pliskova successfully ended the first set with an ace and took the lead. Pliskova exposed Bacsinszky’s second serve really well, causing the Swiss to win only 29% of points after her second serve, while Pliskova won 84% of points on her first serve.

Bacsinszky’s service and overall performance then just dropped, allowing Pliskova to get two early breaks and a lead of 4-0. Pliskova didn’t choke away the match, end kept her focus as both players held. Bacsinszky’s percentage of points won after first serve dropped to 46%, while Pliskova was at 100%, winning all 12 points on first serve. Pliskova also did a great job of pushed Bacsinszky into mistakes. The Swiss produced 16 forced errors in the second set alone.

After her match, Pliskova said: “Obviously yesterday was a tough match and tough day for me because I didn’t expect to lose this one. Even physically I was a little bit down. I just had a good dinner, went to sleep and woke up on a new day with new energy and just tried to do my best.”

Viktorija Golubic played a must-win match against Barbora Strycova. Both players managed to pull of the upset on Saturday, and met in this crucial tie. Strycova put out a solid game in the first set, taking it 6-3 after a little bit of trouble in the final game, having to use 5 set points.

The second set was again very level, but was starting to get crazy in the end, as a string of 4 breaks in a row from 4-4 led to a tiebreak. Golubic had two opportunities the serve the set out, but didn’t even get a set point in either of them, so the match led to a tiebreak. The tiebreak was very level with only 3 breaks of serve, but Golubic came out on top in the second set, winning it after 74 minutes.

In the third set, Strycova started to show visible signs of fatigue, and her performance level started to decrease, while Golubic kept on. Golubic was just near perfect, winning 90% of points on first serve, getting 11 winners while making only 2 unforced errors. Golubic won the third set dominantly 6-1, and after 2 hours and 33 minutes sent the tie into deciding doubles.

Viktorija Golubic had to come back for doubles, due to Switzerland missing a player on their team. Golubic played with the World No. 1 Martina Hingis. Their opponents, representing Czech Republic were Lucie Hradecka and Karolina Pliskova. The Czechs were the dominating power in the doubles, as the Swiss team struggled on serve. The first break came on Hingis’ serve at 2-2. From there Hradecka and Pliskova won 3 more games to take the first set in 28 minutes. The Czech team played a very fast game, made it hard to get into rythm.

Lucie Hradecka made the observation as well: “I am happy with how we played,” Hradecka said. “Maybe I expected a closer match but I know if we play fast and we don’t give them a lot of time, it would be an advantage for us. It was great and I really enjoyed it.”

The second set was also controlled by Czech Republic, getting a break in the first game. Czechs broke again for 5-2, and Hradecka got to serve the match out, taking the first match point, as Hingis put the running forehand into the net.

Despite the loss, the Swiss captain Heinz Guenthardt tried to focus on the positives: “I am very proud of my team. We left everything out on the centre court and I don’t there there is any question or any doubt in anyone’s mind that we did that. You can’t ask of a team anything more than that.”

The opponent of the Czech Republic in the final will be France, defeating Netherlands in the final doubles rubber as well.

Fed Cup

Leylah Fernandez wins Billie Jean King Heart Award

The Canadian was recognized by the fans for her part in Canada beating Serbia in the play-off tie last month.

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Leylah Fernandez has been named the winner of the Billie Jean King Heart award voted on by the fans of the game. She played an integral part in Canada beating Serbia 4-0 in the playoff tie last month.

 

18-year-old Fernandez was involved in a poll with Elina Svitolina, Katie Boulter and Magdalena French. The award comes with $3000 which she donated to her favourite charity Table de Concertation en Securite Alimentaire de Villeray in Montreal.

” I was surprised, there were so many great players who were nominated and showed a lot of heart during the competition so I didn’t expect much from my part but I’m happy the fans voted and that I was given this opportunity to show what we are made of so I am excited,” said Fernandez.

ITF president David Haggerty commented on her award saying “Congratulations to Leylah Fernandez for her great performance at the Billie Jean King playoff in April and for being voted the recipient of the Bille Jean King Heart Award. It’s extra special to be voted by the fans and recognized for showing great courage and commitment to your team”.

Heidi El Tabakh the Billie Jean King Cup captain for Canada also reacted to Fernandez winning the award.

” I am so happy and extremely proud of Leylah (Fernandez) for winning the Billie Jean King Heart Award. It was well deserved following a spectacular performance in Serbia which she worked so hard for,” she said.
“Leylah is a fighter on the court, she always represents Canada with pride and is an incredible teammate for her fellow teammates. She is very worthy of this award”.

This is the 12th year the award has been given and it recognizes players who have represented their country with distinction, shown exceptional courage on the court, and demonstrated outstanding commitment to the team during the Billie Jean King Cup by BNP Paribas.

So far the the award winners have donated over $200,000 to charities across the world.

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Davis Cup

Tennis Stars Voice Concerns Over Staging Tokyo Olympics

After being delayed by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, top players such as Naomi Osaka and Kei Nishikori still have reservations.

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The area around the Olympic Rings and Olympic Stadium - (image via olympics.com)

Japan’s top male tennis player Kei Nishikori has questioned how much preparation the IOC and local officials in his home country has prepared for a ‘worst-case’ scenario of hosting the Olympics. 

 

The four-year event has already been postponed by 12 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic and some have called for the sporting extravaganza to be scrapped. Recently governors of nine Japanese prefectures said there should be an option to suspend or even cancel the Olympics altogether if cases in the region can’t be kept under control. Three of those governors are in charge of cities set to stage Olympic events. 

Weighing in on the debate, former US Open finalist Nishikori raises doubts over how organisers plan to hold a safe event given the high number of athletes that will be present, which is an estimated 11,000. Japan has already said that overseas fans are banned and international athletes will not be able to bring relatives with them to minimise the risk.

“I don’t know what they are thinking, and I don’t know how much they are thinking about how they are going to make a bubble, because this is not 100 people like these tournaments,” Nishikori said after his first-round match at the Italian Open on Monday.
“It’s 10,000 people in the village. So I don’t think it’s easy, especially what’s happening right now in Japan. It’s not doing good. Well, not even (just) Japan. You have to think all over the world right now.”

The world No.45 expresses a view similar to the of four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka who said earlier this week that she was ‘not sure’ if the event should go ahead due to the current case numbers.  

“I’m an athlete, and of course my immediate thought is that I want to play in the Olympics,” she said.
“But as a human, I would say we’re in a pandemic, and if people aren’t healthy, and if they’re not feeling safe, then it’s definitely a really big cause for concern.”

In the latest figures published by health officials, Tokyo reported 925 news cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday which is an increase of almost 400 compared to the previous day. Although Monday figures are usually low due to the closure of testing centres over the weekend. Tuesday’s number is higher compared to this time last week (609 cases) and two weeks ago (828 cases).

Besides the COVID-19 concerns, the prospect of having to go to the Games without a member of family could result in the absence of four-time gold medallist Serena Williams. The former world No.1 says she is undecided on playing the event and hasn’t been separated from her three-year-old daughter for more than 24 hours before.

“I haven’t spent 24 hours without her, so that kind of answers the question itself,” said Williams.
“I haven’t really thought much about Tokyo, because it was supposed to be last year and now it’s this year, and then there is this pandemic and there is so much to think about.
“Then there are the Grand Slams. It’s just a lot. So I have really been taking it one day at a time to a fault, and I definitely need to figure out my next moves.”

Besides athlete concerns, Olympic organisers are also facing falling public support. A recent poll conducted by newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun found that nearly 60% of respondents wanted the Games to be cancelled. Furthermore TBS news reported 65% of people surveyed in another poll wanted the event either cancelled or suspended again, with 37% supporting the cancellation and 28% in favour of suspension.

The Olympic tennis event is set to start on July 24th. 

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Davis Cup

Top Tennis Tournaments Among 97 Events UK Sport Hopes To Host Over The Next Decade

A plan for the ‘greatest decade of extraordinary sporting moments’ in the UK has been published and tennis is among the sports officials are interested in.

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London's O2 Arena, venue of the ATP World Tour Finals between 2009-2020 (photo by Alberto Pezzali)

The government agency responsible for investing in Olympic and Paralympic sport within Great Britain has said they could submit an application to host two team tennis events over the next decade.

 

UK Sport has labelled both the Billie Jean King Cup and Davis Cup Finals as an ‘opportunity’ for them to host in their 10-year strategic plan which will last until 2021. Overall the country is looking at the possibility of staging 97 events across 44 sports over the next 10 years. Those behind the plan believe such a move could generate a total of £7 billion for the UK economy. A live feasibility study is already underway for bidding to host the 2030 football World Cup, 2026 European Athletic Championships and more.

“Together we have achieved so much in Olympic and Paralympic sport. Nevertheless, we are very aware there is no room for complacency and that we must build on our success to create the next exciting phase of high-performance sport,” UK Sport chair Dame Katherine Grainger said in a statement.
“One where we work even more collaboratively and inclusively to keep winning and win well, in ways that will inspire more people and have a broader impact on our society.
“Achieving on the world stage will still sit firmly at the heart of what we do. But we should not underestimate the powerful platform that provides us with, and it is our shared responsibility to better harness this for positive social change.”

When it comes to both the Billie Jean King Cup and Davis Cup, UK Sport has categorized them as a mega event. Meaning they are ‘seen as the pinnacle of their sport at World level and which have significant staging costs, attract more than 100,000 live spectators, entail considerable delivery complexity and require extensive public funding and guarantee commitments.’ At present they have been labelled as an ‘opportunity’ by the agency. Meaning that no decision to bid to host them has been made yet but remains a good possibility.

The government made no reference to what venues could be used, especially regarding the tennis events which will require more than one court due to the change of the tournament in recent years. The finals of the team events now last for a week or so and are done initially in a group format before turning into a knock-out stage.

This year’s Davis Cup finals are taking place across three European cities. However, the women’s equivalent remains in doubt after the ITF ended their contract with the Hungarian Tennis Association who were meant to be holding the event. Hungary recently sent a letter saying it was no longer feasible to do so due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The UK is best known for its staging of the prestigious Wimbledon Championships, as well as other grass-court events. Furthermore, it also experienced great success in hosting the ATP Finals between 2009-2020 which attracted more than 2.8 million visitors during that period.

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