Wins For Pouille And Chardy Give France 2-0 Lead Over Great Britain In Davis Cup Quarterfinal - UBITENNIS
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Wins For Pouille And Chardy Give France 2-0 Lead Over Great Britain In Davis Cup Quarterfinal

Joshua Coase

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Lucas Pouille

France are in firm control of their Davis Cup World Group quarterfinal tie against Great Britain after wining both opening singles rubbers on day one to take a 2-0 lead in Rouen.

 

Lucas Pouille got France off to the perfect start with a straight sets win over Kyle Edmund 7-5, 7-6(6), 6-2. Both players shared breaks early on in the match before the Frenchman capitalised late on to take the first set. Edmund battled back from a break down in the second set to force a tiebreak and had a commanding 5-2 lead. The world number 17 then attempted an audacious drop shot which clipped the top of the net and went over, had it landed back on the Frenchman’s side he would have been facing four set points against him. Pouille capitalised on that good fortune, reeling off four points in a row to get to set point, the Brit saved the first but could not prevent his opponent from taking a two set lead. With such fine margins separating the two players in the opening two sets, Pouille then took control in the third and put France 1-0 up in the tie.

Jeremy Chardy produced an even more impressive performance as he took full advantage of Dan Evans lack of recent matches on clay, defeating the Brit 6-2, 6-3, 6-3. The Frenchman received a late call up to replace Gilles Simon and justified his selection, racing into a 5-0 lead. Evans managed to hang with Chardy, who was playing his first Davis Cup tie in six years, early on in the second set but not for anywhere near long enough. The Frenchman cruised through his service games and wrapped up both sets two and three with a 6-3 score line to put France 2-0 up.

Pouille Defeats Edmund 7-5, 7-6(6), 6-2

Pouille got the home side off to the perfect start after securing an early break. A double fault from the Brit handed the world number 17 two break points and the Frenchman capitalised on the second with a backhand down the line winner. In the following game the French number one for the tie threw in a poor service game, producing unforced errors to hand the break straight back.

After a series of service holds Edmund came under pressure in the eleventh game as he faced a couple of break points. The Brit hung tough and fired down two aces to keep him in the game but frustratingly fired an attempted forehand cross court winner just wide to relinquish serve. After securing a crucial break, Pouille took full advantage and closed out the set after Edmund’s rallying shot went just long, sealing the set for France 7-5.

Pouille went from strength to strength at the start of the second set, breaking immediately with a forehand down the line winner to take a 1-0 lead. Edmund came under further pressure in the seventh game at 30-30 and deuce on serve but the Brit held on to ask the question of the world number 17.

Surviving in that game proved to a turning point in the Brit’s favour as Edmund broke back following some nervy looking unforced errors from Pouille. After back to back service holds the players found themselves in a tiebreak. A double fault from the Frenchman handed the world number 47 the first mini break. Edmund took full advantage and quickly moved into a 5-2 lead. The tides then turned and the Frenchman reeled off four points in a row to move to set point. The Brit could not deny Pouille on a second occasion as he took a two sets to love lead, winning the tiebreak 7-6(6).

Edmund had two opportunities to break the world number 17’s serve in the fifth game, but both chances past him by. After failing to capitalise the Brit quickly found himself 0-40 down in the next game and despite saving two chances the world number 47 dropped serve. That proved to be the British number three’s last stand as Pouille closed out the set and match 7-5, 7-6(6), 6-2.

Jeremy Chardy

Jeremy Chardy (Photo: Zimbio.com)

Chardy Defeats Evans 7-2, 6-3, 6-3

Chardy followed in his compatriot’s footsteps and made a fast start, breaking immediately and moving 3-0 in front. The fourth game was a real battle as Evans battled to keep his hopes in the set alive. In a game lasting over nine minutes, both players had chances, but it was the Frenchman who came away with the break on his third opportunity after the Brit continued to make unforced errors and he quickly found himself 5-0 down.

Evans got a game on the board in his next service game and managed to pull one of the breaks back, taking his third opportunity. Those couple of games in a row from the world number 44 proved to be a temporary momentum switch as Chardy swiftly moved to set point on Evan’s serve. The Frenchman closed out the set with a backhand return of serve cross court winner.

The second set started out as a close affair, with both players holding their opening two service games. Evans then produced a service game to forget, quickly falling 0-40 down as he struggled to execute his slices effectively enough. Chardy secured the break and went on to secure a two sets to love lead, holding serve, finishing with a inside out forehand cross court winner.

Chardy gained another early break of serve at the start of the third set and victory for the Frenchman looked inevitable as Evans looked to be struggling for ideas out on court, falling 0-40 behind on serve in the fifth game. The Brit did not have too much to shout about throughout the match but he was able to recover in that game and win five points in a row to close the gap to 3-2.

Evans, playing his first competitive match on clay in two years, managed to stave off break points in his following service game but could not make any inroads on Chardy’s serve. The Frenchman produced a flawless performance from start to finish as he secured the straight sets victory 6-2, 6-3, 6-3, justifying his late call up by captain Yannick Noah.

France are certainly in the driving seat in the tie, but there is still a long way to go to decide the outcome of this Davis Cup quarterfinal as the teams prepare for the doubles rubber on Saturday.

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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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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Davis Cup Finals To Become Three-City Event From 2021

Austria and Italy join Spain in hosting the finale of the men’s team competition.

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The International Tennis Federation has approved a plan to transform the Davis Cup finals into a three-city event with it taking place over a longer duration.

 

Starting from 2021 the finals of the 121-year-old men’s team competition will be held across three European venues which are set to have ‘similar conditions.’ Madrid, who hosted the event back in 2019, will remain the location for both the semi-finals and finals. Additionally, Turin in Italy and Innsbruck in Austria will co-host the event with each of them staging two of the six groups, as well as one quarter-final.

The development is the latest change made by the ITF in partnership with Kosmos, who have pledged to invest $3 billion in the sport over a 25-year period. Kosmos is the key driving force being the recent transformation of the competition and was founded by footballer Gerard Pique.

“The proposals announced in January were aimed at providing a better schedule for players while bringing the competition to new audiences and improving the experience for fans. Following a thorough bid process, we are delighted to be able to confirm Innsbruck and Turin as co-hosts alongside Madrid. We are confident that, together, they will deliver an outstanding world championship event for players and fans alike.” ITF Senior Executive Director, Professional Tennis, Kris Dent, said in a statement.

As a result of Turin’s and Innsburk’s inclusion in the finals, the competition has been extended from seven days to 11 days. A total of 18 teams are set to take part in the finals which wasn’t held last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. From next year the number of teams will be reduced to 16. The ITF confirmed the schedule of tournaments will be issued in the ‘coming weeks.’

Former French Open champion Albert Costa says the two cities have been selected to ‘ensure a smooth transition’ between countries for players. Costa, who is Director of the Davis Cup Finals, has stressed that the conditions of each venue are similar to each other.

We are very excited to bring the Davis Cup Finals to Innsbruck and Turin. Both cities submitted impressive bids that not only promise a world class experience for players and fans, but also include stringent measures to ensure the health and safety of all in attendance,” said Costa.
“It was important to find two European cities that were well connected to Madrid, with similar playing conditions, to provide a smooth transition for players travelling from other venues. With confirmation of the three venues, we are already working hard to offer the best possible event in 2021. We are also liaising closely with the Region of Madrid and the City Council as thanks to their support, Madrid remains as the main venue for this year.”

There are questions about if the move will be enough to attract the top names. Due to the extension, the event will result in the off-season being reduced by a week. A key period for many players who used it for training.There are also questions about the decision to launch a multi-county tournament this year during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic will each country having their own rules.

The Davis Cup finals are set to take place between November 25th and December 5th.

Venues of 2021 Davis Cup Finals

Madrid Arena, Madrid (ESP)

  • Group A: Spain, Russian Tennis Federation (RTF), Ecuador
  • Group B: Canada, Kazakhstan, Sweden
  • Quarter-finals: Winner Group A v group runner-up; Winner Group B v group runner-up
  • Semi-finals and final

Olympia-Halle, Innsbruck (AUT)

  • Group C: France, Great Britain, Czech Republic
  • Group F: Serbia, Germany, Austria
  • Quarter-final: Winner Group C v Winner Group F

Pala Alpitour Arena, Turin (ITA)

  • Group D: Croatia, Australia, Hungary
  • Group E: USA, Italy, Colombia
  • Quarter-final: Winner Group D v Winner Group E

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