Davis Cup play-off: Australia maintains Davis Cup World Group status after winning the doubles over Slovakia - UBITENNIS
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Davis Cup

Davis Cup play-off: Australia maintains Davis Cup World Group status after winning the doubles over Slovakia

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From Sydney Robbie Cappuccio

 
Both Groth and Peers displayed power and touch in today's rubber

Both Groth and Peers displayed power and touch in today’s rubber

 

Australia closes the Slovakian file winning the doubles in four sets 6-4, 6-2, 6-7(3), 7-6(2), thus maintaining its  status in the World Group. Peers e Groth could not close the match in the third set lost momentum, but played then a perfect tie break to seal a 3-0 victory.

Another nice and sunny day in Sydney, where the grass – or what’s left of it – of the Ken Rosewall Arena hosts the doubles match, which in Davis Cup could be the decider or a totally irrelevant match: given the easy victories of  Kyrgios and Tomic in day one, we are definitely in the second scenario.

It’s 1 PM when the match starts, with Slovakian Andrej Martin and Igor Zelenay (both ranked around 80th position in ATP doubles) desperately trying to keep the tie alive. Australia starts at a good pace, with Groth serving often at 220 km/h, with top speed of 233 and returning really well, especially with the backhand along the line from deuce side. Peers is a doubles specialist, n.26 of doubles ranking, tactically very savvy, serving precisely and with a soft touch and great reflexes at the net. Out of the four, Martin has by far the weakest serve, lacking fluidity and power, the first serve travelling at 17 km/h. He has to face two consecutive break points straight away, but holds. Australia holds serve to love a few times (both Groth and Peers will lose 3 points on their serve in 5 rounds), but cannot convert break points (0/4) until 5-4. With Zelenay on serve, Peers first plays a great point at the net, then hits a winner backhand return. Also Groth returns a 200 km/h serve with a backhand winner and Australia is up 0-40 with 3 consecutive set points. At the third attempt Peers and Groth take the first set 6-4 and are in control.

It takes 24 minutes only to the Aussies to take the second set, breaking Zelenay on 2-1 and then on 5-2 when the Slovakian hits two consecutive double faults. It looks like the Aussies are cruising, and in control. “They played well, but we were the one creating all the opportunities” said Groth in the press conference. It was actually a great game by the Australian pair, serving well (Groth looking for the bomb, Peers alternating kick, slice and topspin and acing on second serve at 149 km/h) returning well, taking the net, displaying both power and soft touch.

Then something happen. Slovakia changes their position on return “I went to the deuce side and Andrej on the ad side and we did a better job”, says Igor Zelaney at the press conference. The Aussies cannot put the foot down, the Slovakians start reading Groth’s serve and so the Aussies are taken to the tie-break, despite having a match point at 6-5, which Martin saves with a good serve. The tie-break is played superbly by the Slovakian, especially by Martin: a stop volley gives them 4 consecutive set points. The first one is saved by Groth’s serve, but then Zelaney seals the set: 7-6(3) and the match is re-opened.

As the sky changes and becomes cloudy, so does the momentum of match. The Australians now have to work more to hold serve, whereas the Slovakian win a number of love games on theirs. Groth’s return is not effective anymore and he looks a little bit slow on his feet especially at the net. The Australian are behind in the score, even if not broken, and kept afloat by John Peers, to me the best on court, (both when defending  from the baseline and at the net), to reach the tie-break.

As it often happens in tennis, here comes another momentum swing. First Martin put an easy forehand volley wide, then Groth finds focus and return, Peers keeps on returning well and Australia is up 5-0 and then 6-1.The first point was really unlucky then Groth hit a great serve and then we had a misunderstanding, a little bit of bad luck again” comments Martin. Slovakia saves the first match point, then another great return by Groth gives Peers the opportunity to poach in and seal the victory with a backhand volley.

“[Staying in the World Group] was a goal after the loss to US in march [..] we put a lot of work into this ties, you know, the boys came to prepare early and did all the right things. Having a grass court here in Sydney as well, which I thing played to our hands.[…] we did absolutely everything to reach this outcome.” says captain LLeyton Hewitt. “Today the boys put in a really solid performance. They did not drop serve, did not face a break point in the match”

The final day will probably see one rubber only played  at best of 3 tiebreak sets. Possibly Groth against Gombos, in what can be called an exhibition game.

Davis Cup

Is Covid-19 Just An Excuse To Axe The 2020 Davis Cup Finals?

The decision to cancel the team event five months before it was set to start may be more complex than what officials are letting on.

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On Friday the International Tennis Federation issued a statement to confirm that their two premier tennis team events will not be taking place this year.

 

The Davis Cup and Fed Cup tournaments have been delayed until 2021 due to the global uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. For the Davis Cup, it is only the 12th time in history a season has ended without a champion being decided since its birth in 1900 and the first since 1945. The teams that have qualified for the week-long finals this year will instead have to wait until November 2021 to battle it out for the title.

“This is a tough decision to have to make, but delivering an international team event on this scale while guaranteeing the health and safety of all involved ultimately poses too great a risk,” ITF President David Haggerty said in a statement. “It is a complex undertaking and we have made the decision now to provide certainty for players, national associations and fans.”

There are however some questions over why the ITF has made this announcement five months before the start of the tournament. Especially when both the ATP and WTA Tours are set to restart in August. Furthermore Madrid, where this year’s finals were scheduled to take place, will still host their premier combined event at the Caja Magica in September.

“It’s the inconsistencies that I find tedious. Two months before the Davis Cup was meant to be playing we are playing at the same venue in Madrid for the masters. In regards to the crowds there seemed to be a fair bit of social distancing at this event last year,” John Millman wrote on Twitter.

It appears that there could be a more substantial financial reason to postpone the Kosmos-backed event. Investment company Kosmos was founded by Gerard Pique and has pledged millions into the Davis Cup in a deal to help revamp it. French newspaper L’Equipe have quoted sources reporting that the event lost an astonishing 50 million euros in 2019, which was the first year where the new format took place. Furthermore, it has been reported that the decision to scrap November’s event will help save 18 million euros.

Furthermore, one senior figure at Tennis Canada has suggested that Pique had tried to do everything he could to prevent the tournament from taking place. Louis Borfiga, who serves as his country’s Vice President of High Performance, said he believes there has been no meetings with the federations prior to Friday’s announcement.

“While everyone is doing everything possible to try to replay, I have the impression that Piqué did everything to prevent the Davis Cup from taking place this year,” he said in a separate interview with L’Equipe.
“ They (Kosmos leaders) put forward health reasons, I hope they are the right ones. They are going to have the right role. There is nothing we can say about health.”
“When I read the official press release, I am surprised by one thing. It is Piqué who speaks first, and the president of the ITF (David Haggerty) after. That too is shocking.” He added.

Borfiga is not alone in this view. Back in March tennis player Nicola Mahut criticised Pique for not being more optimistic about holding the finals this year. The Spaniard had previously said he was ‘pessimistic’ about having the event without fans.

“The message he sent through his statements is: ” If Madrid is complicated and we cannot do it, well it will be cancelled and he will save some money.” Mahut commented.

According to Diario AS, the Madrid economy will lose in the region of 50 million euros due to the finals not being held. Furthermore, it is estimated that 600 jobs would have been created to support the running of the tournament from start to finish.

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Davis Cup

Gerard Pique’s Pessimistic Davis Cup Outlook Blasted By French Tennis Star

The football player has been urged to ‘put more energy’ in finding a solution for the event to take place in 2020.

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Kosmos founder Gerard Pique has come under fire over his plans for the Davis Cup Finals later this year after recently casting doubt on the event taking place due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

 

Pique, whose company helped finance the transformation of the 120-year-old team competition, recently admitted that he was doubtful that the event could go ahead if crowds weren’t allowed to attend. Last year was the first time the new format of the competition took place with 18 teams featuring in a week-long round-robin tournament which was won by host nation Spain.

“I’m a bit pessimistic, to have the Davis Cup with no fans is difficult,” Pique told Movistar.
“There is a lot of uncertainty. We are listening to what the sport’s ministry and the government are telling us about whether we’ll have the ability to have fans.”

All professional tennis tournaments have been suspended since March due to the Pandemic. Officials are hoping to be able to get the sport going again in August ahead of the US Open that is scheduled to take place. Although some have doubts about the chances of the Tour’s starting by then, including world No.43 John Millman.

Amid the ongoing uncertainty, French tennis star Nicolas Mahut has criticized Pique’s bleak outlook for this year’s Davis Cup finale. The 38-year-old has represented his country in 13 ties, including the 2018 final as well as the semifinals in two other years.

“We don’t have a lot of information. But as a player, you can just trust the official statements. And when I hear Pique, I’m extremely disappointed,” Mahut told L’Equipe.

Mahut has called on Pique to explore more options such as potentially relocating the event to another country if it would make it safer for the event to go ahead. Implying that he was his duty to do so after setting ‘to destroy the formula’ of the event. Critics of the revamp have accused Pique of ruining the traditional competition.

“I would like him to put as much energy into saving the Davis Cup that he has set up. That is to say, to find solutions for it to take place in Madrid or elsewhere, as he has set to destroy the formula that had been in place for over a hundred years,” he said,
“The message he sent through his statements, is: ” If Madrid is complicated and we cannot do it, well it cancels and I save some money. ” And it bothers me a lot compared to what has happened for more than a year. We don’t play with this competition. Maybe that suits it.”

Kosmos has signed a $3 billion 25-year deal with the ITF to acquire the rights for the Davis Cup Finals.

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Davis Cup

Davis Cup Finals In Doubt, Admits Gerard Pique

The Kosmos founder explains why he isn’t too optimistic about the team event going ahead later this year.

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MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 24: Crowds of peoples during of the Davis Cup by Rakuten Madrid Finals 2019 at Caja Magica on November 24, 2019 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Pedro Salado / Kosmos Tennis)

The chances of this year’s Davis Cup Finals taking place are still up in the air with one of the key figures involved in the competition openly saying that he is ‘pessimistic’ about its chances.

 

Football star Gerard Pique is one the driving forces behind the new format following a huge financial investment from his company Kosmos. Signing a 25-year deal with the International Tennis Federation worth in the region of $3 billion. Despite the significant investment, Pique admits that he has low hopes of the event taking place later this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. All professional tennis tournaments have been halted since March.

“There is a lot of uncertainty, we try to be aware of what the government says regarding sports and to whether we can put spectators inside the Caja Magica,” Pique said during an interview with Movistar.
“I would say I am a bit pessimistic, because a Davis Cup without fans is difficult.
“I think that nobody at the moment has the certainty that we can put fans in or if it will have to be behind closed doors. As the days go by, I suppose we will have a little more clarity.”

Spain is currently in the process of relaxing some of their lockdown restrictions with tennis players being able to train at local facilities from next week. The country is following a four-stage plan with the hope that their premier La Liga football league will resume next month at some stage.

However, the issue for the Davis Cup is the limited number of fans that would be able to go to the tournament if it takes place. In more advanced stages of the plans, no more than 50 people can attend an indoor venue. Although the number could be increased by November, it will be a stark difference to 2019. Held at the Caja Magica, the total capacity of the premier court is 12,500 people.

Last year’s final saw Spain lift the title for the first time since 2011 after they defeated Canada in the final. The two teams are seeded third and sixth in this year’s draw.

The Davis Cup is scheduled to take place between November 23-29 in Madrid. The ATP, WTA and ITF will not restart their Tour’s until at least July 13th, however, there is speculation that the suspension will be extended in the coming weeks.

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