Juan Martin Del Potro: "The Davis Cup is a very important moment for our country" - UBITENNIS
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Juan Martin Del Potro: “The Davis Cup is a very important moment for our country”



Juan Martin Del Potro and Marin Cilic will be the top stars at the next weekend’s Davis Cup Final between Croatia and Argentina at the Arena Zagreb.


Both Del Potro and Cilic are 28 years old. They are just five days apart. They turned pro at the same time in 2005. Del Potro won the US Open in 2009 beating Roger Federer in the final. Cilic won in New York five years later with a win over Kei Nishikori. Del Potro leads 8-2 in his 10 head-to-head matches against Cilic.

Del Potro was awarded by the ATP with the Comeback of the Year Award after an outstanding season in which he started outside the top 1000 following a persistent series of wrist injuries and finished as world number 38.

The Argentine player made his return last February with a semifinal in Delray Beach in his comeback tournament. He followed up his Delray Beach performance with a quarter final in Munich and a semifinal in Stuttgart. He beat Stan Wawrinka in the second round at Wimbledon. He made a winning return to the Davis Cup when he won the doubles match alongside Guido Pella in the quarter finals against Italy in Pesaro. At the Rio Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro he upset Novak Djokovic in the first round and went on to reach the final where he lost to Andy Murray after a hard-fought four-hour match.

After reaching the quarter finals at the US Open last September, Del Potro took a re-match beating Murray in a five-set epic match in the Davis Cup semifinal in Glasgow. Last October the Tower of Tandil won his first title since 2014 at the ATP 250 Tournament in Stockolm.

Del Potro has won eight of his ten head-to-head matches against Cilic. He has not lost against his Croatian rival since 2011.

“I know him very good but the matches we played before do not matter because the conditions are different for me. If I have a chance on Sunday to play against him, we will see what happens, but first we will think about Friday. It will be a great experience if we do well. We are thinking about the preparation and trying to focus. It’s a very special moment for us and we are very positive. The Davis Cup is very important for our country. We are looking forward to having a good weekend and playing good tennis. The Davis Cup creates an amazing atmosphere around the world. Our fans will come to Croatia to support us. We love to represent our country around the world”, said Del Potro during the pre-event press conference.

Argentina will be bidding to win their first ever Davis Cup in history after finishing runner-up four times in 1981, 2006, 2008 and 2011.

“We are here to live the experience, to live the tie in the moment. We will do our best. That is all we can do. We have a desire to do well, to represent our country well. The playing conditions are good for both teams. We expect to see very good matches throughout the weekend”, said Argentina’s Davis Cup captain Daniel Orsanic at the press conference held on Tuesday in Zagreb.

Cilic had a slow start to his 2016 season reaching the third round at the Australian Open last January. He reached his first final of the year in Marseille last February, but he finished runner-up to Nick Kyrgios. He went on to reach the quarter finals at Indian Wells and the final in Geneva. On grass the world number 6 reached the semifinals at Queen’s and the quarter final at Wimbledon, where he lost to Roger Federer in a five-set epic match after leading by two sets to love. He reached the Round of 16 at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro before winning his first Masters 1000 title in Cincinnati with a win in the final over Andy Murray. Cilic has enjoyed a solid autumn season. He qualified for the semifinals in Tokyo before clinching his second title of the year in Basel and reaching the semifinals in Paris Bercy. He secured his spot for the ATP FInals in London for the second time in his career. At the O2 Arena he won his only match against Kei Nishikori in the final round-robin match but it was not enough to reach the semifinals.

In the Davis Cup first round match against Belgium Cilic clinched a straight-set win over Kimmer Coppejans but lost to David Goffin. Borna Coric beat Coppejans to earn Croatia the decisive 3-2 point sending his country to the quarter finals.

At last July’s quarter final match against the USA in Portland, Cilic lost against Jack Sock in five sets after leading by two sets to love. The US led 2-0 after the first day following John Isner’s win over Borna Coric. Cilic and Ivan Dodig kept the Croatian hopes alive with a four-set win over Mike and Bob Bryan in the doubles. In the fourth match Cilic beat Isner 11-9 in the first-set tie-break before winning the next two sets. Coric won the decisive fifth rubber match for the second time in 2016 by beating Sock in four sets to send Croatia into the semifinals.

In the semifinal against France in Zadar Cilic beat Lukas Pouille in four sets before winning the doubles match with his teammate Dodig against Wimbledon doubles champions Pierre Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut. Cilic beat Richard Gasquet to win his third match sending Croatia to its first Davis Cup final in eleven years.

Should Cilic win his two singles matches next weekend, he could equal Ivan Ljubicic as the most successful Croatian player in this competition with 23 singles match wins. Cilic has clinched  9 wins in his past 11 Davis Cup matches.

“It was a huge achievement for our team, winning in 2005. Ivan Ljubicic had n amazing year, winning 11 singles matches, plus with Mario Ancic winning too. We had a great team for years afterwards. Me and Ivo Karlovic also played really well and Mario was in and out with his injuries and we still made it to the semis in 2009. In the last few years the new team has come up. Borna Coric came on the team, Ivan Dodig is playing really good in the doubles in the last four and five years. Having Ivo back in the team is also a big one too. We have had a tough draw from the beginning, having the first two matches away, so it’s just amazing to be in the final and we hope that we can continue with this good run”, said Cilic.

Ivo Karlovic will make his Davis Cup come-back after four years of absence. The Croatian giant, who played his last Davis Cup match against Argentina in 2012, has ended the year in the top-20. He started the year with first round exits in eight of the first nine tournaments, but bounced back last April by reaching the semifinals in Istanbul. He went on to reach the semifinals in s’Hertogenbosch before winning a title in Newport. During the summer he reached the final in Washington, won in Los Cabos and got through to the fourth round at the US Open.  He ended the season with a semifinal in Vienna.

Karlovic has a win-loss record of 9-8 singles matches in the Davis Cup. He would become the oldest player in 96 years to play a singles match in the Davis Cup match since 43-year-old Norman Brookes in 1920.

Croatia is bidding to win its second Davis Cup eleven years after Ivan Ljubicic led his team to the first triumph in history for his country against Slovakia.

Argentina leads 3-0 in the previous three Davis Cup clashes against Croatia.

“Of course it’s huge for us. Being from such a small country, we have a chance to win the Davis Cup. It’s a privilege and we are motivated for it. We know how big it is. You can already see all the interest around this tie. It’s as big as it gets. We are playing at home, we have a chance to win. It’s a great occasion for this generation”, said Croatian Davis Cup captain Zelijko Krajan.


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Hamad Medjedovic moves to 2-0 in Red Group at the Next Gen Finals in Jeddah



Hamad Medjedovic edged past Luca Van Assche 4-2 2-4 4-3 (9-7) 4-1 to move to 2-0 In Red Group at the Next Gen ATP Finals in Jeddah one day after winning a marathon five-set match against Alex Michelsen. 


Medjedovic broke serve in the third game of the opening set to take a 2-1 lead. He held serve and saved two break points in the sixth game to close out the first set 4-2. 

Van Assche saved three break points at 2-2 before breaking serve in the sixth game  with a running forehand pass to seal the second set 4-2. 

Medjedovic earned a break point in the first game of the third set, when Van Assche made a double fault. Van Assche saved them to hold on his serve. Both players held on serve en route to a tie-break. Van Assche raced out to a 5-1 lead. Medjedovic won three consecutive points to claw his way back to 4-5. Van Assche earned three set points at 6-4, 6-5 and 7-6, but Medjedovic won the final three points to win the tie-break 9-7. 

Medjedovic left the court for nine minutes for a bathroom break. 

Medjedovic broke serve in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead. When he was serving out the match, he saved three break points as he closed out the win with two unreturned serves. 

“For sure the tie-break changed a lot of things in this match. He had three set points. I stayed focused on the important points. I was consistent, hitting the ball hard, and I am glad that I won the tie-break”, said Medjedovic. 

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Abdullah Shelbayh upsets Alex Michelsen to win his first win at the Next Gen Finals in Jeddah



Jordan’s wild card Abdullah Shelbayh beat world number 97 Alex Michelsen 4-2 1-4 4-0 4-0 to clinch his fourth top 100 win. Shelbayh moves to 1-1 in Red Group. 


Shelbayh hit 26 winners, including seven aces. The Asian player will face Serbia’s Hamad Medjedovic in his third round robin match. 

Shelbayh earned the first break in the third game of the opening set to take a 2-1 lead. The wild card held his next two service games at 30 to close out the first set 4-2. 

Michelsen, who reached the ATP 250 final in Newport last summer, broke in the second game of the second set to take a 2-0 lead, when Shelbayh made a backhand error. 

Michelsen earned a break point in the first game of the third set, but Shelbayh saved it with an ace. The Jordanan player held serve before breaking serve to close out the third set 4-0. Shelbayh won four consecutive games with two breaks of serve to win the fourth set 4-0. 

“Having the opportunity to play here now to finish here, I could not ask for a better end to the year. I appreciate all the support throughout the week that I have been receiving already, throughout the year and from the Arab world especially. It makes me happy to represent my country. There is some pressure but you feel like it’s good pressure to have on you shoulders when you are representing your country and the region you come from”,said Shelbayh. 

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Arthur Fils eases past Flavio Cobolli to move to 2-0 at the Next Gen Finals in Jeddah



World number 36 Arthur Fils eased past Flavio Cobolli 4-1 4-2 4-2 in 59 minutes to move to 2-0 in Green Group at the Next Gen ATP Finals in Jeddah. Fils won 72% of his first service points and fired five aces. 


Fils saved a break point in the first game on the deciding point. The Frenchman broke serve in the second game and rallied from 0-30 down to hold serve in the third game. 

Fils served out the first set 4-1 with a hold at love. 

Cobolli made a double fault at 30-30 in the first game of the second set, but Fils broke serve when Cobolli hit his backhand into the net. 

Cobolli saved a break point with an ace on the deciding point in the third game. Fils won his next two service games with ease to seal the second set 4-2. The Frenchman dropped two points on serve in the second set.

Fils earned an early break in the first game of the third set. Cobolli broke straight back to draw level to 1-1. Fils broke for the second time at love in the third game with a backhand down the line return winner and sealed the win on his second match point. 

Fils, who beat Luca Nardi in five sets in his opening match, will face Dominic Stricker in his third round-robin match. 

“I played very nice today. I served very good, and I was moving well on the court, so I am very happy with it. Tomorrow I have a good match against a great opponent. He already beat me once this year, so let’s what I can do”, said Arthur Fils. 

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