Giorgi Says No To Italian Fed Cup Team, Severs Ties With Federation - UBITENNIS
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Giorgi Says No To Italian Fed Cup Team, Severs Ties With Federation

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The third-highest Italian player in the WTA rankings, Camila Giorgi, has abruptly decided to end her all associations with the Italian Tennis Federation FIT, allegedly due to a scheduling conflict. But she could face legal action for breaching a formal contract she signed with FIT.

A very succinct press released published on Camila Giorgi’s personal website on Thursday evening has triggered a chain reaction that is rattling the Italian Fed Cup team in the lead up to their crucial World Group Playoff tie in Lleida, Spain on 16-17 February. The four-time champions need to win the tie if they want to avoid relegation to World Group II.

 

Camila Giorgi and her staff announce that today [31st March] we have terminated our cooperation with FIT [the Italian Tennis Federation]. […] Camila therefore will not take part to the Fed Cup tie [against Spain], but will enter the qualifying draw in Stuttgart”.

According to various sources, on Friday 25th March Camila sent an email to the FIT technical staff announcing her decision to travel to Germany for the rich WTA Premier tournament (each year the winner receives a Porsche) and her consequent impossibility to participate in the Fed Cup against Spain. Originally the n. 43 Italian was due to participate in the TEB BNP Paribas Cup in Istanbul, Turkey, but due to the recent terrorist attacks in the country, she decided to modify her schedule and opted for the event in Germany. Due to her ranking, she is will not receive direct entry to the main draw, forcing her to play the qualifying rounds taking place during the very same weekend as the Fed Cup Playoff tie.

The email from Giorgi requested FIT to not include her in the list of players selected for the tie the same way it had been granted to other Italian players in the past (Schiavone and Pennetta in 2013, Vinci earlier this year). Camila is trying to rebuild her game and her ranking after a lackluster start of 2016 season (her record is 4-6 during the first three months of the year) that has seen her ranking slip from n.34 to n.45. Following a categorical refusal by FIT to comply with her requests, the situation quickly deteriorated: an emergency meeting was called in Rome immediately after Easter, where Camila and her father-coach-manager Sergio met with two representatives of the Italian Federation, who hinted at possible retaliatory measures similar to those that were adopted against Simone Bolelli in 2008 when he refused to play a Davis Cup playoff tie against Latvia. Bolelli was disqualified by FIT, whose president Angelo Binaghi publicly stated that he would never play for Italy again for as long as he was at the helm of the Federation, however, he was later “forgiven” (coincidentally after he parted ways with his previous coach Claudio Pistolesi, who has always been extremely critical towards FIT) and allowed to be part of the Davis Cup team again.

The Italian Federation seems to have a more compelling case to change Giorgi’s mind than nationalistic pride and a threat of disciplinary action: there is a contract in place between Camila and FIT. This agreement states that FIT would provide Giorgi a range of services (the use of training facilities at their Technical Center in Tirrenia, Tuscany; an apartment for the Giorgi and her family near the training center; access to FIT technical and medical staff) as well as a robust financial support package. This would have been committed in exchange for the unconditional availability by Camila Giorgi to play in Fed Cup for Italy.

Sources disagree on the entity of the financial help included in the agreement: media outlets close to the Italian Federation, who are yet to issue an official statement on the matter, report a 145,000-euro unsecured loan granted to Camila to support her technical development, as well as 125,000 euros to cover some of the costs of her professional activity and 55,000 euros as a bonus for participating to past Fed Cup ties (where her record is an unimpressive 3-8). On the other hand, sources closer to the Giorgi’s quantify the financial support at approximately 150,000 euros.

The Italian Fed Cup captain notified his picks for the tie with Spain less than 24 hours after the “break-up” statement appeared on Giorgi’s website, including the name of the 24-year-old Italian in the list of selected players. FIT representatives seem adamant that, should Giorgi refuse to travel to Spain, she would be in breach of the agreement and required to repay the 145,000-euro loan immediately, as well as lose access to all the FIT training staff and facilities in Tirrenia. Other Italian players who were granted “temporary waivers” to their duty to represent Italy in Fed Cup (Pennetta, Schiavone and Vinci) were all stalwarts of the team that brought home four Fed Cup titles between 2006 and 2013, therefore, according to FIT, they have earned the right to obtain a break from the team competition. Furthermore, Giorgi is the only one under formal contract, and benefiting from free training facilities and free access to trainers and doctors.

The Italian Federation has given Giorgi until Monday 4th April to change her mind and make herself available to travel to Lleida, Spain with the rest of the team, or the clauses of the contract, which have not been disclosed, will be enforced.

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Fed Cup

Australia Ousts Great Britain In Thriller To Reach BJK Cup Final

The host nation narrowly missed out on a place in the final but they have plenty of positives to motivate them for the future.

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The British Billie Jean King Cup team (image via LTA Twitter)

Australia has denied Great Britain an opportunity to play in their first team final since 1981 after prevailing 2-1 in an epic tussle at the Billie Jean King Cup in Glasgow. 

 

The gripping tie was level at 1-1 after each team won one of the singles matches, paving the way for a winner-takes-all doubles encounter. The British team featured Alicia Barnett and Olivia Nicholls who were both making their debut in the competition this week. Their opponents were former Grand Slam winner Sam Stosur and world No.10 doubles player Storm Sanders.

Despite the gap in experience between the two pairings, there was almost nothing to distinguish between the two throughout the majority of their encounter which lasted more than two hours. Nevertheless, the Australian duo held their nerve to seal a 7-6(1), 6-7(5), 10-6, victory to send them into the final. 

“That was amazing. it could have gone either way and credit to the GB girls they played really well. They will be here again for sure.” Sanders said during her on-court interview. 

It is only the second time in the past 30 years that Australia has progressed to the final after 2019. Before playing Great Britain, they also defeated Belgium and Slovakia in the group stages. 

“A real credit to the four players out on court that was pretty inspirational, so I hope it inspires a lot more of you out there to play doubles. It was really such a high level you couldn’t pick it in the end.” Australian captain Alicia Molik commented on the doubles match. 

Earlier in the day, Australia got off to the perfect start with Sanders edging her way past Heather Watson 6-4, 7-6(3). However, the host nation battled back with an impressive performance from Harriet Dart who defeated Ajla Tomljanović 7-6(3), 6-2. A player who has reached the quarter-finals at both Wimbledon and the US Open this year. 

“The Billie Jean King Cup just brings the best out of me. I love playing in front of a home crowd, and I feel like I have really been feeding off my teammates and everyone here. It just makes me really want to do really well.” Said Dart. 

The performances from the underdogs provide Britain with plenty of hope for the future. The nation lost in qualifying earlier this year but managed to enter the finals via wildcard due to the competition being held in their country. 

“I’m just gutted for everyone right now but also I think we have to try and keep things in perspective,” British captain Keothavong told reporters. 
“What a fantastic week it has been for the team. I don’t know how many people gave us much of a chance really to even come through the group stages.’
“It really is a fantastic achievement to reach the semifinals but we felt we could have gone further. That’s why it hurts so much.
“It’s going to hurt the players for a while but they’ll (the team) get over it. They can still hold their heads high because they have shown what they are capable of under a huge amount of pressure to deliver, and in the end, it came down to a few points.”

Australia will next play either Switzerland or the Czech Republic in the final. They are seeking to win the trophy for the first time since 1974.

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Great Britain Looking To Overcome ‘Experienced’ Australia In Billie Jean King Cup Semis

Great Britain will play their first Billie Jean King Cup semi-final for 40 years when they play Australia on Saturday.

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Great Britain plays their first Billie Jean King Cup semi-final for 40 years when they face Australia in the last four in Glasgow on Saturday.

 

It was a heroic effort from Great Britain on Thursday as they battled past Spain to reach the last four at the Billie Jean King Cup.

Having lost to Kazakhstan 2-1 in their opening match, they knew they had to beat Spain 3-0 to qualify for the semi-finals.

But step up Heather Watson, Harriet Dart and the doubles team of Olivia Nicholls and Alicia Barnett, as they pulled off a massive upset to seal a place in the semi-finals.

Speaking after the win against Spain, Great Britain’s captain Anne Keothavong praised the doubles pairing of Barnett and Nicholls, “It’s down to their doubles win on Tuesday night (in a 2-1 loss to Kazakhstan) that kept us in this competition,” Keothavong was quoted by tennis365 as saying.

“I think if you watch that match, it’s hard not to feel the joy and the camaraderie between the players. It really truly was infectious.

“I think also Liv and Liss bring something different to the team which we haven’t had before. It’s not just the fact that they specialise in doubles but they have had a life outside of tennis.”

Now Great Britain look to repeat the success of the 1981 side as they look to beat Australia and reach the final.

It will be no easy task though with an in-form Ajla Tomljanovic, Ellen Perez, Storm Sanders and Sam Stosur standing in their way.

Keothavong admitted it will be a tough match but also noted that momentum is on Great Britain’s side, “They are a tough team,” Britain’s captain admitted.

“They are a team with plenty of experience in this competition. But look, we have to believe, and we’re on a high at the moment.”

That semi-final is the first semi-final before reigning champions Switzerland face the Czech Republic at 16:00 GMT.

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‘Sky’s The Limit’ – Great Britain Storm Into First Billie Jean King Cup Semis In Over 40 Years

The underdogs have exceeded expectations in front of their home fans in Glasgow.

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The British Billie Jean King Cup team (image via https://twitter.com/the_LTA)

British captain Anne Keothavong said it was ‘wonderful’ to watch her team pull off a sensational 3-0 win over Spain at the Billie Jean King Cup on Thursday. 

 

After suffering a loss to Kazakhstan earlier in the week, team GB entered their latest tie knowing they have to win all three of their matches without dropping a set if they want to progress to the semi-final stages. Despite having the odds against them, they managed to surge to victory. 

Heather Wason thrashed Nuria Perrizas 6-0, 6-2, who is ranked 50 places higher than her in the WTA standings. Then Harriet Dart stunned world No.13 Paula Badosa 6-3, 6-4, in just over 90 minutes. To put that victory into perspective, Dart has only beaten one top-10 player in her career, which was Daria Kasatkina at the US Open earlier this year. 

“I’m just so proud to represent my country, to be able to also perform on home soil in front of a home crowd. Doesn’t get more special than that,” Hart told reporters afterwards.
“My goal was to make it as tough as possible out there for her, and I felt like I executed my game plan really well. I knew that all the pressure was on them because on paper she’s meant to beat me easily.”

On the verge of booking a place in the semi-finals, the tie came down to the doubles match. Alicia Barnett and Olivia Nicholls only found out they were playing in the competition for the first time in their careers last week. Despite their inexperience, the duo managed to pull off a shock 7-6(5), 6-2, win over Aliona Bolsova and Rebeka Masarova. 

“The sky’s the limit after what we have shown so far,” said Nicholls. “We were definitely underdogs in this group. No doubt about it.
“Both the singles girls, Harriet and Heather, getting unbelievable wins. We have shown what we can do on the doubles court at well. I don’t see there are any players or teams here that we shouldn’t walk onto court thinking we can’t beat. We will just keep going.”

The triumph makes it the first time Britain has reached the semi-finals since 1981 when the event was called the Federation Cup. Britain, who are currently ranked 17th in the team standings, only managed to qualify for the finals due to being the host nation. 

“It sure is (historic) – this is something really special,” said Keothavong.
“I’m just so proud of this team. Every single player on the team has done us proud, the team spirit has been high, and I just want to thank everyone who has come to support the British team here. It really makes the difference and we really appreciate the support.
“We want to put women’s sport and tennis on the map and the support you give us is helping us to create amazing memories.”

Britain will next take on Australia who coincidentally was the country they faced the last time they reached the semi-finals more than 40 years ago. Australia, which is headed by top-40 player Ajla Tomljanović,  has topped their group following a 3-0 win over Belgium and a 2-1 win over Slovakia. 

“We are not here to participate – we are here to try and win this event,” said team member Storm Saunders.
“Everyone on the team, it’s a priority for us to win. So, semi-finals is, yeah, a good step but we’re here for more.”

Britain is seeking to win the title for the first time in history and Australia is aiming to claim their first since 1974. 

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