Mahut/Benneteau See Off Murray/Inglot In Four Sets To Seal Davis Cup Win For France Over Great Britain - UBITENNIS
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Davis Cup

Mahut/Benneteau See Off Murray/Inglot In Four Sets To Seal Davis Cup Win For France Over Great Britain

Joshua Coase

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Nicolas Mahut and Julian Benneteau secured a four set win over Jamie Murray and Dominic Inglot 7-6(7), 5-7, 7-5, 7-5 to give France an unassailable 3-0 lead in their Davis Cup World Group quarterfinal tie with Great Britain.

 

The doubles rubber was a hotly contested affair and both teams had their chances. Great Britain squandered four set points in the first set before making sure they took their chances in the second. Murray/Inglot looked in control leading 4-2 in the third set but Mahut/Benneteau responded magnificently, winning five of the next six games to move two sets to one in front. The fourth set was equally as close, but when it looked destined to go to a tiebreak Mahut stepped up and helped inspire a crucial break of serve for the French pair to wrap up the win and book France’s place in the semifinals against Serbia.

Heading into the third rubber the pressure was very much on the British pair of Murray/Inglot to get the win, as the 2015 champions found themselves 2-0 down after day one. Straight set victories for Lucas Pouille over Kyle Edmund and for Jeremy Chardy over Dan Evans left Mahut/Benneteau with the chance to book France’s place in the semifinals. Both sides boasted a good recent record as partnerships, with the French pair wining the ATP title in Marseille in February and the British pair winning both their previous doubles rubbers together in the Davis Cup against Canada and Serbia. All four players quality made a for a really tough battle and a highly engaging contest.

All four players served very impressively at the beginning of the match and neither side looked like they were going to be broken in the opening eleven games of the match. That pattern looked set to continue when France were serving to stay in the set down 6-5 as the team led 40-0. However, two double faults in the next three points brought us to deuce for the first time in the match. Murray/Inglot applied the pressure and managed to bring up a set point on three occasions for Great Britain. The French pairing of Mahut/Benneteau saved the first two with high quality play but the Brits had a an excellent chance on the third opportunity. Inglot had his sights set on ripping a backhand at the two onrushing French players but his one handed backhand hit the net. The chances went begging and France held to force a tiebreak.

Great Britain took command early on and moved 4-1 in front. But, as Pouille had done against Edmund in their singles match yesterday from a similar position, the French pair turned it around and brought up a set point of their own at 6-5. The French pair thought they had secured the set after Mahut hit a cross court backhand return of serve winner, but it missed the outside edge of the line by an inch. A huge serve from Inglot brought Great Britain a fourth set point, but once again Inglot/Murray could not capitalise. When the French pair got a second chance they did not hesitate as the former number one doubles player in the world Mahut struck a volley at Inglot, who could not reply, sealing the first set for France in the breaker 9-7.

Once again in the second set opportunities to break serve were at a premium as all four players impressed when stepping up to the line. In the eleventh game a double fault from Benneteau pushed the French pair back to deuce before the Brits stepped up and earned a first break point in the set. Having squandered three opportunities in set number one, the visiting side made no mistake this time as Inglot struck a lob winner to take a 6-5 lead. Murray had only lost four points throughout the whole match on serve and kept that form going, closing out the set with an unreturned serve to level the match at one set all.

Having looked so strong on serve throughout the match, the Brits came under the most intensive pressure to date in the fourth game of the third set. Inglot’s first serve had deserted him and as a result the pair found themselves 15-40 down. The Brits responded and battled to save both break points with overhead smash put-aways. They then squandered a chance to hold but eventually made it out of the game to level the scores at 2-2.

That escape for the Brits proved to be a turning point as Inglot/Murray responded to break Mahut’s serve for the first time in the match. The game was highly competitive and saw plenty of chances for the French pair to hold pass them by. A lob from Inglot brought up game point and an exceptional reflex volley from Murray secured the break and a 3-2 lead. Great Britain were not out of the woods yet as Inglot came under further pressure on serve down two break points. Yet once again the Brit stepped up when it mattered most, firing down four big first serves to secure the hold and remain in front.

The Brits could not keep getting themselves in danger on serve and keep escaping and this came back to bite them in the eighth game. A one-two combination off Murray’s serve and Inglot’s volley winner saved one break point, but the French pair took a second chance, seeing the Brits drop serve for the first time in the match after two hours and 18 minutes of play. Mahut held to love to move the home team 5-4 in front, asking the question, but Inglot responded with love hold of his own to level the scores once more.

In the twelfth game, with Great Britain serving to stay in the third set, the French team stepped up and moved to two set points. After a tentative volley from Inglot, Mahut had the chance to win the point but missed his forehand cross court just wide. The Brits then saved a second with a good first serve from Murray and swiftly moved to game point. Mahut hit a bullet forehand at Inglot to force the score back to deuce before he struck another superb forehand down the line winner to bring up a third set point. A very untimely double fault from the Scot ended the set on a very disappointing note for Great Britain as they found themselves two sets to one down.

The fourth set was equally as competitive and looked as though it was destined for another tiebreak as the British pair brought up two game points on Murray’s serve. After those two chances went begging the French team sensed that now was the moment to secure victory. Mahut produced some fine shot making to bring up a first match point. The Brits saved that one but Mahut was relentless with his fierce groundstrokes. Determined to seal the tie, the Wimbledon men’s doubles champion played a huge part in taking the next two points to seal a fantastic win for France 7-6(7), 5-7, 7-5, 7-5. Of course that win secured an unassailable 3-0 lead in the tie for France over Great Britain, meaning that tomorrow’s two singles matches will be dead rubbers.

Davis Cup

Former Grand Slam Champion Hits Out At ‘Abysmal’ Davis Cup

Australia’s most successful doubles player in Davis Cup history isn’t happy about the changes made to team event.

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Former world No.1 Doubles player Todd Woodbridge has taken a fresh swipe at the revamped Davis Cup and their allocation of wild cards for the 2020 finals.

 

The 48-year-old has blasted the format of the historic team event following major changes that was made this year. Last month was the first time the finals took place over a week with 18 teams participating in one location in Madrid. At the event there was a few blips with the scheduling being at times problematic. Highlighted by the tie between the USA and Italy that went on until 4am.

Despite the issues, there were also positives to be taken away from the event, which was won by Spain. However, Woodbridge remains a critic. The Australian is his country’s most successful doubles player in the history of the Davis Cup with 25 wins under his belt. Overall, he played in 32 ties over a 14-year period (1991-2005).

“The tennis itself has been brilliant, the organisation has been abysmal,” Woodbridge said on Australian programme Sports Sunday.
“Everything from IT issues, to playing matches that finish at 4am, and then today the ITF go, ‘Well we’re going to put in more wild cards.”

It is the wild cards decision that has irritated the 16-time grand slam champion the most. Recently it was announced that Serbia and France has been handed passes into the finals next November. Meaning that will not have to go through the play-off ties. Woodbridge has suggested the move was deliberately made in order to persuade Novak Djokovic to play in the event again.

“They’ve given wild cards this week, for 12 months’ time. You’ve got to ask the question, how can you do that? It looks like they’re guaranteeing Novak Djokovic a spot for next year … ‘We want you back so we’re going to guarantee you can be there, you don’t have to play the qualifying match earlier in the year,” he said.
“And then France have also been put in, so you’ve got to ask the question, the President of the ITF is also French and I’m sure he’s had a big influence in that discussion. They’ve got so many things to fix if it’s going to be a success next year.
“The biggest issue was crowd. We (Australia) played our first match with about 400 people watching, and that’s a great disappointment.”

Gerard Pique if the founder of Kosmos, whose investment has enabled the transformation of the Davis cup. In a recent interview with Spanish media, he said the allocation of a wild card to France was done so the country ‘feel part of the competition because the format will continue like this.’

“We’re delighted with how everything went and above all with the final, which Spain won,” he told Onda Cero about the 2019 Davis Cup finals. “There are things which need to be improved, like the times of the games, which has an easy solution in the form of adding another court and changing the times a little bit.”

The 2020 Davis Cup qualifying rounds will get underway in March.

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Davis Cup

Roberto Bautista Agut: ‘My Father Would Have Given Me An Earful If I Had Stayed At Home’

The Spaniard opens up about his decision to return to the Davis Cup following the death of his father.

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MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 17: Roberto Bautista of Spain during a training session of Davis Cup by Rakuten Madrid Finals 2019 at Caja Magica on November 17, 2019 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Diego Souto / Kosmos Tennis)

Throughout the Davis Cup finals player’s have illustrated their commitment to their country in the competition, but Roberto Bautista Agut took it to another level.

 

The world No.9 was hit with personal tragedy half-way through the event in Madrid. On November 21st Bautista Agut left the competition to return home after receiving the news that his father’s health had taken a turn for the worse. Ximo Bautista had a serious domestic accident three years ago, which caused serious health issues. He passed away shortly after his son returned home.

Grieving for the loss of his father, 18 months after his mother died, Bautista Agut attended his funeral on Saturday. 24 hours after that he was back playing in the Davis Cup once again representing Spain.

“I made the decision to go home on Thursday and I was lucky to be with my father the last minutes of his life and say goodbye to him.” Bautista Agut told reporters. “My father would have given me an earful if I had stayed at home.”

The unexpected and admirable return of the 31-year-old brought glory to his team on Sunday. In the first tie of the final, Bautista Agut disposed of Felix Auger-Aliassime in straight sets to hand the hosts the lead. Victory was then sealed in the following match after Rafael Nadal defeated Denis Shapovalov.

“When I took the car to come (back to the Davis Cup), the last thing on my mind was to play,” he said.
“But in the final, my head wanted to face that game, and luckily it went well.’
“I didn’t know if I could measure up, but I left everything there. The moment has been very beautiful and unrepeatable.”

World No.1 Nadal has described his rival as an ‘inspiration’ for showing his commitment to the Davis Cup. Bautista Agut played a total of three matches in the seven-day event, winning two of those. His victory over Auger-Aliassime made him only the 10th Spanish player in history to have won a match in a Davis Cup final.

“What Roberto did today (Sunday) is something out of this planet,” Nadal said. “Roberto has been an inspiration to all of us.
“Whatever happens this cannot be a climax for someone who has lost his father this week.”

The Davis Cup triumph caps off what has been a strong season for Bautista Agut, who has cracked the year-end top 10 for the first time in his career. His only title took place back in January where he won the Qatar Open. At Wimbledon he reached his first-ever grand slam semi-final. Overall, Bautista Agut achieved a win-loss of 42-22.

The Spanish No.2 will marry his longtime girlfriend next weekend.

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Davis Cup

Rafael Nadal, Roberto Bautista Agut Guide Spain To Davis Cup Glory

Spain has ended their eight-year title drought at the newly revamped competition.

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Rafael Nadal (image via Image via Kosmos Tennis)

World No.1 Rafael Nadal has clinched the Davis Cup title for Spain after defeating Denis Shapovalov in straight sets to give his country an unassailable lead in their clash against Canada.

 

Nadal, who hasn’t lost a match throughout the entire week in Madrid, overcame some spirited play from across the court to prevail 6-3, 7-6(7). Sealing the trophy for his country for the first time since 2011.

During his clash with Shapovalov, the 16-time grand slam champion broke once during the opening set, but was tested thoroughly in the second. Fighting his way through some lengthy service games with one of those lasting almost 10 minutes.

It would be a dramatic tiebreaker where he sealed the victory. It looked as if Nadal would be strolling to the win after hitting an ace to claim two match points at 6-4. However, both of those were saved by forehand winners from Shapovalov who drew level once again.  It would be third time lucky for Nadal after a shot from across the court slammed into the net. Prompting him to drop to the ground in tears of joy.

“I could not be happier. It has been an unforgettable moment in this amazing stadium (Caja Magica).” Said Nadal.
“Our team spirit prevailed. We fought hard.” He added.

The Spanish team got off to a solid start in the tie thanks to Roberto Bautista Agut’s admirable return to the competition. 31-year-old Agut left the event half-way through the week due to his seriously ill father who sadly passed away. However, he came back to Madrid and got the hosts their first point after disposing of an error-stricken Felix Auger-Aliassime 7-6(3), 6-3. The 19-year-old, who was playing his first match in the seven-day competition, committed 45 unforced errors.

“It was a very special feeling on the court,” Agut told Eurosport after.
“I just could go out and try my best, give my best.
“I am very happy I could win the first point for Spain.”

Image via Kosmos Tennis

The Spanish team were unbeaten on home soil this week. Scoring wins over Russia, Croatia, Argentina and Great Britain. Making them the first ever winners of the revamped Davis Cup, which featured a total of 18 teams in finale.

“It has been an amazing week. There have been a lot of things we went through.” Nadal reflected.
“The father of Roberto passed away, Marcel (Granollers) yesterday was stiff with his lower back and Pablo (Carreno-Busta) getting injured in the singles. A lot of things happened.”

Captain’s tribute

Nadal’s commitment to the competition has been hailed by captain Sergi Bruguera. Who described the world No.1 as being ‘out of this world.’ He has played in eight matches with five of those being in the singles competition. Overall, he dropped only one set in his doubles match against Russia.

“Rafa, I don’t know if he is out of this world.” Said Bruguera.
“Throughout this week I don’t think there was one day we went to sleep before 3am. One day, I think it was Friday, he went to sleep at 5:10am and then he was playing singles and doubles again (the next day).”

Although Nadal was a key figure in the triumph, it wasn’t just him that guided his country to victory. It is the sixth time in History Spain has won the event. Historically, there are now ten Spanish men who have won a match in a Davis Cup final.

“The truth is when you have this kind of moment it is difficult to describe in words because there are so many feelings. So many emotions I have never felt before.” Their captain explained.
“I have no words for this. Roberto was at his father’s funeral yesterday and now he was here (in Madrid) giving everything.’
“The mentality, spirit and concentration of the team I have no idea how to describe.”

Spain has a chance to defend their title on home soil next year with Madrid being the chosen host of the 2020 finals.

Image via Kosmos Tennis

 

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