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.
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 Will Be A Chance To Honour Queen Elizabeth II, Says Andy Murray
The LTA has decided to go ahead with staging the event following the death of Britain’s longest-reigning monarch.
Three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray has paid tribute to the Queen by saying the upcoming Davis Cup event in Glasgow will provide an opportunity to celebrate her life.
Queen Elizabeth II passed away last Thursday at the age of 96 which has sent Britain into a period of national mourning. She was the longest reigning member of the British Royal family in history with her reign lasting 70 years between 1952-2022. The Queen presented Virginia Wade with the Wimbledon trophy in 1977 which is the last time a British woman has won the title.
Murray was knighted by the Royal Family after winning Wimbledon and an Olympic gold medal for the second time. The former world No.1 believes this week’s Davis Cup will be used as a way for those involved to pay their respects.
“It’s obviously been a very sad week with the news about the Queen passing away, but I think here will be a chance for everyone to show how much she meant to everyone,” Murray told Sky Sports.
Ahead of Great Britain’s first tie against America on Wednesday, there will be a one-minute silence. The British team will also wear black armbands or ribbons throughout the event as a mark of respect.
“I’m sure there’ll be songs sung and a minute’s silence observed,” Murray continued.
“She obviously had an amazing life and I think here, these few days when GB are competing, will be a chance to celebrate her and everything that she did.
“I was very fortunate to get the opportunity to play in front of her and compete at Wimbledon when she came along to watch which was a really nice memory for me.”
Murray, who was an instrumental figure in Britain last winning the Davis Cup in 2015, will be hoping to help his team secure this place in the finals later this year. Besides America, they will also face the Netherlands and Kazakhstan in the tournament.
The host team will also feature Cameron Norrie, Dan Evans, Joe Salisbury and Neal Skupski. They must finish the week inside the top two to secure their place in the finals which will take place in Malaga between November 22-27.
“It’s an opportunity for us to use all of the players in the team,” Murray commented.
“It’s a bit different [this time]. Obviously we have a very strong team, a lot of depth, which hasn’t always been the case over the last 20 years or so.
“Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski originally would play pretty much all of the matches together. Then I played the bulk of the singles and doubles matches for a period of time.
“It’s obviously great to be playing back in the Davis Cup, representing Great Britain again, I’ve always loved doing it, especially here at the Emirates.”
Glasgow is one of four countries hosting the group stages of the competition along with Bologna in Italy, Hamburg in Germany and Valencia in Spain.
The competition will take place between 13-18 September.
(Exclusive) Albert Costa: “Davis Cup Finals Are Going To Remain The Best Of Three Sets”
Last week at the Barcelona Open during one of the many suspensions due to the rainy weather UbiTennis had a chat with 2002 French Open champion Albert Costa in the elegant clubhouse of the Real Club de Tennis de Barcelona.
By Federico Bertelli, translated by Kingsley Elliot Kaye
Born in Lleida, Albert Costa grew up as a tennis player at the Real Club de Tennis de Barcelona and also won the tournament in 1997. When he retired from tennis he became the director of the tournament until three years ago when he handed it over to David Ferrer. One of the best stands on the centre court takes his name. Until the 1980s the tennis stadium was the Spanish team’s Davis Cup home.
Now, after stepping down from his role at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell, Albert Costa has become tournament director of the Davis Cup which is now advertised as “The World Cup of Tennis.”
UBITENNIS: Players have asked to be able conclude their season before playing the Davis Cup. As a result, the group ties which will determine the eight quarter finalists have been moved to September and the final knockout stage will unfold over five days. What can you tell us about this? Is it going to be a definitive format?
Albert Costa: It hasn’t been confirmed yet but likely it will be six days starting on Tuesday until Sunday. It is not yet agreed with ITF but, as organisers of the event, our intention is to play from Tuesday to Sunday at the end of November. As far as the future is concerned, we are trying to find the best solution. We are aware that the first years will require some fine tuning but I believe that in the next one or two years we’re going to reach a consolidated format, which will enable us to work comfortably and to give certainty to our stakeholders.
UBITENNIS: In 2022 and 2023 the Davis Cup will be played in Malaga. Can you tell us anything more about the selection process, considering that last year they were speaking about Abu Dhabi and then at the beginning of 2022 a neutral location was being considered?
Albert Costa: Actually we were in negotiations with Abu Dhabi, there was a concrete proposal. Then Malaga came up with a very attractive proposal and at that point we considered other factors which led us to choose the latter: tennis tradition and culture are at a different level in Spain and this was an aspect that drove Kosmos to choose Malaga. Other considerations are involved as well: an easier destination to reach for tennis fans. Europe is the centre of tennis in terms of countries and players, the ATP finals are played indoors in Turin. This last aspect is particularly relevant: in fact it is very simple to move to Malaga just a few days later and the environment is similar. Besides, Malaga is a city which is growing very fast and sees Davis Cup as an opportunity to gain visibility and to pair with its tourism.
UBITENNIS: The first edition of Davis Cup with the new format was played at the Caja Magica in Madrid, where the Mutua Madrid Open usually takes place. One of the advantages of the facilities is the possibility to use the three indoor courts simultaneously. Has the idea of playing simultaneous matches been put aside? Playing more than one match at the same time could allow them to go back to the 5-set format like in the old Davis Cup.
Albert Costa: I know very well the format of the former Davis Cup, but we have ruled out going back to five set matches. We haven’t taken into consideration the option of playing simultaneously.
UBITENNIS: But with the current three match format, the double counts very much, much more than before; amazing runs like those of Djokovic or Murray, who a few years ago carried their teams on their shoulders and led them to victory, now would no longer be possible.
Albert Costa: It’s true. With the new format, having a great number one isn’t enough. You need a balanced team with a good doubles. But in this way the format makes competition tighter and more open and potentially there is a great number of teams that can win the trophy. This makes it all more exciting. For instance Serbia, in spite of having Djokovic, who has dominated tennis over the last years, hasn’t yet succeeded in winning the Davis Cup with the new format.
UBITENNIS: Summing up, the 3-match format, two singles and one doubles, isn’t going to change.
Albert Costa: Yes, I confirm this is the direction we are taking: 3 matches in one day.
UBITENNIS: Speaking about the calendar, which are your expectations in terms of public, now that tennis fans have got two months to make arrangements for going to watch their team? Last year it was very complicated since the teams qualified for the quarter finals were known only one week before they actually played.
Albert Costa: Now it’s much easier. We are going to work with travel agencies in order to set up interesting packages. We are also going to work with the national federations in this direction. We are aware that environment and support are the distinguishing traits that make Davis Cup so special. Our target for 2022 is to have at least 1000 supporters for each team cheering their players from the stands. The environment is definitely one of the key factors to success. This means that we want at least 8000 supporters coming from the different countries for the final eight. If Spain were to reach this stage, the number would be even higher. Then we have to add the neutral public that simply comes in to enjoy tennis. Our idea is to create an experience which combines Davis Cup with the possibility to have a trip to the Mediterranean and enjoy the city.
UBITENNIS: The old format was no longer viable. For many players winning Davis Cup once in their career was enough, whereas Majors are never enough. How do you think you can succeed in attracting the best players to always play Davis Cup?
Albert Costa: when I used to play from 1995 to 2005, I remember that the players were already asking to change the format. It was impossible to dedicate four weeks to the Davis Cup, which often involved moving to different surfaces from the Tour schedule. With the new format the workload is different. The players of a team that reaches the final stage have to invest three weeks. In terms of surfaces and event preparation it’s all much simpler: the final stage of Davis Cup is played indoors, just like the rest of the indoor season. As the matches are played best of three sets the players are much less impacted in terms of physical engagement, which is an excellent thing considering the increasing amount of injuries we’ve seen recently. It’s true that in the past many players were content with contributing to winning one Davis Cup only. We aim at providing a comfortable scheduling so that players will be eager to participate every year.
UBITENNIS: Wouldn’t the event be made more legendary if at least in the final the matches were played best of five sets?
Albert Costa: I understand the historical point of view, but also the finals of the ATP Masters 1000 and of the ATP Finals were played best of five sets and now things have changed. Especially with the stress, both physical and mental, which modern tennis brings in. Players are already pushing their limits. It’s already three matches, which means at least six hours of competition. It’s enough both for the public and for the players. I believe that the value of a Davis Cup victory cannot be measured on the basis of the physical toll paid by players. It’s the overall value of the team that ought to be rewarded, which is also the reason why it is fair that the most well-balanced teams, with a strong number 1, a good number 2 and a good doubles, are the most likely to win.
UBITENNIS: Under a communication profile the claim that has been delivered since 2019 is that it’s a World Cup of Tennis. This theme has already been broadly discussed, but I’d still like to hear your opinion as a former player.
Albert Costa: Before the format we used to play with, home and away ties, Davis Cup was like America’s Cup, where the winner of the previous edition waited for the challenger selection series. Changes are in the order of things. I believe that going towards a World Cup type of format, with a group stage and a knockout stage is an excellent solution.
UBITENNIS: A last question: until 2023 everything is scheduled, in terms of format and location. For 2024 could there be an agreement with ATP Cup?
Albert Costa: We are working at it. Having Davis Cup at the end of November and ATP Cup at the beginning of January doesn’t make much sense. Kosmos and the other parties involved have to get into talks. We’re trying. Let’s see what comes out of it.
REPORT: Valencia To Host Group Stage Of Davis Cup Finals As Part Of Five-Year Deal
It is understood that negotiations are at an advanced stage and an announcement could be made very soon.
The Spanish city of Valencia has been chosen as the fourth and final host of the group stages of the Davis Cup Finals, according to two separate media sources.
Regional newspaper Las Provincias has reported that negotiations have been ongoing between officials in the region and Kosmos, the investment company who oversees the running of the tournament. It has been reported that talks between the two are at an ‘advance’ stage with it only being a matter of time before a deal is finalized.
An announcement is expected to be made as early as this week that Valencia has signed a five-year deal to host the Davis Cup. However, the venue of where the event will be hosted is still to be confirmed. One of the options is the bullring known as the Plaza de Toros de Valencia which has staged numerous Davis Cup ties in the past. However, another venue may seem more suitable considering the time of year and the fact four teams are taking part.
Valencia’s rumoured appointment fills in the gap left by Malaga who have been named host of the knockout finals in November after initially being awarded the chance to hold one of the four group stages along with Glasglow, Bologna and Hamburg. Malaga will also host the finale in 2023 as well. Making it the fourth time in a row the finale of the event has been held in Spain.
News outlet Levante–EMV has also confirmed Valencia’s intention to host the team event and say officials have already expressed a desire to one day host the knock-out stages in November. Although there is no guarantee that will happen.
The development comes shortly after France pulled out of the bidding process due to what they described as ‘onerous’ financial and operational conditions which none of their potential organizers was willing to accept. France was initially excluded from the hosting process and filed a case to the Court of Arbitration in March for Sport (CAS) saying the decision was unfair. However, a month later they were allowed to take part. It is unclear as to why they were initially excluded.
Davis Cup officials are yet to publicly comment on Valencia’s appointment but it is expected that they will do so very soon. In their latest communication, organizers said they plan to announce the fourth host of the group stages, which is said to be Valencia, before the draw takes place on April 26th.
The group stages of the 2022 Davis Cup Finals will take place from 14-18 September. Each group will consist of four teams with ties being a best-of-three rubbers taking place on the same day. The top two teams from each group will then progress to the knockout stages which will take place between November 23-27.
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