It was six sets set out of six for Croatia as Marin Cilic completed a perfect day in Lille for the visitors as they lead France 2-0 after the first day of the Davis Cup Final.
The world number seven defeated Jo-Wilfred Tsonga 6-3 7-5 6-4 to give Croatia a 2-0 lead after the first day of the Davis Cup final.
In the opening rubber in-form Borna Coric cruised past Jeremy Chardy 6-2 7-5 6-4 to give the Croats the early lead. The French team have never won a clay court Davis Cup final on home soil.
Ivan Dodig and Mate Pavic can win the Davis Cup for Croatia with a win over Roland Garros champions Pierre-Hughes Herbert and Nicolas Mahut tomorrow.
The former US Open champion started his match with Tsonga in the best possible fashion, with the intensity visible right from the start.
Even though he has hardly played in 2018, the Frenchman matched Cilic’s intensity in the early stages and looked up for the fight.
In the end the Croatian’s massive returning was the key as he broke in the sixth game to silence the fiery Lille crowd. Despite wasting a set point on the eighth game, the Croatian sealed the opening stanza on his own deal in 38 minutes.
The second set was much better from Tsonga as he used his athleticism to try and fight in the match as he aimed to break Croatia’s consecutive set run.
Even though a couple of break points were created, Tsonga couldn’t break down the intimidating serve of Cilic as the Croatian was much more composed than he has been this season.
Just like the match before a critical break in the eleventh game broke the French spirit down and Cilic successfully gained a 2 sets to love lead.
Physicality was a big problem for Tsonga as it seemed it had hit Noah what a poor decision it was to pick Chardy and Tsonga in the team.
A double fault sealed another break for Cilic and the veteran wasn’t about to let this lead slip. Another big smash sealed the match and a comfortable 2-0 lead after day one in Lille.
Tsonga fell to tears as Cilic basked in glory on what could be a crucial day in Croatia’s bid to win a first Davis Cup title since 2005.
Coric Cruises Past Chardy
Earlier in the day, Croatia took a 1-0 lead after an in-form Borna Coric cruised past Jeremy Chardy 6-2 7-5 6-4. Despite a decent start from Chardy he couldn’t keep up with the big-hitting Croat consistently after Coric broke in an 11 minute game to begin the match.
Too many missed first serves saw Coric build on his early momentum as his devastating forehands sealed an early double break lead. As Chardy found his rhythm at the end of the set, Coric’s defence continued to remain firm and after 37 minutes he earned his reward by taking the first set.
Although he’s not a regular pick for the Davis Cup team, Chardy was giving a good account of himself in the second set as he served much better. The world number 40 showed more aggression on his serve but the problem was that there was a lack of pressure being put on Coric’s serve.
Eventually the Croat weathered the Chardy storm to break in the eleventh game and serve out a 2 sets to love lead. Even though Coric had treatment on his fatigued thighs in the third set, the damage was already done to Chardy.
The world number 12 would break early in the third and seal a comfortable first rubber for Croatia in Lille. After the match Coric expressed his delight at victory, “I was very aggressive, I was very calm and I didn’t lose my nerve in the second set. I had a few break points in the second but didn’t take them, but I stayed calm and that was the key I think. I served really well in the important moments.”
Tomorrow’s doubles will see Pierre-Hughes Herbert and Nicolas Mahut take on Ivan Dodig and Mate Pavic. Should Croatia win a well-balanced doubles match then they will lift their first Davis Cup title for 13 years.
Viktor Troicki Set For Key Davis Cup Role
The 34-year-old will continue his playing career in 2021 but is also likely to take on a top coaching position in his country.
Former world No.12 Viktor Troicki is likely to become the new captain of the Serbian Davis Cup team next year, according to various news sources.
Kurir newspaper has reported that the 34-year-old is set to take on the role when Nenad Zimonjic’s term as captain expires next year. Troicki is still an active player and is currently ranked 201st in the world following what has been a disappointing season for him. He has only managed to win one main draw match on the ATP Tour this season which was in January at the Pune Open in India.
“I am aware that the time is slowly coming when I am finishing my professional career. Now my priority is to prepare as well as possible for the new season,” Troicki recently told 24sedam.rs.
“I give myself about five or six months to see how I would feel, but also what results I would achieve. My plans also depend on that a lot. If it goes well, that’s great, but if I see that it’s not going and I’m struggling, I think that I will most likely stop playing actively.”
At the height of his career, Troicki was ranked 12th in the world rankings back in 2011. He has won three ATP titles with two of those occurring in Australia at the Sydney International in 2015 and 2016. He also won the 2010 Kremlin Cup in Moscow. In the Davis Cup he has played in 24 ties, including the 2010 final where Serbia won the team competition for the first time in history. Overall, he has won 24 out of 40 matches played at the event.
There has been no official confirmation yet of Troicki’s appointment but he has previously stated that he hopes to stay working in the sport after retiring. Should he take the role as captain, his term is set to continue until after the 2024 Olympic Games.
“As for my future plans, of course I will stay in tennis. I have been in it all my life and I think that I will give the most in where I am the best,” he said.
“I have some plans, but I don’t want to talk about them yet. Slowly, all in good time. My focus is on the beginning of preparations, and to do them as well as possible.”
Whilst he is staying coy about his future plans, another player has already praised his appointment as coach. During a recent TV interview on Nova S Filip Krajinović hinted that the appointment is already a done deal.
“First of all, we are friends, Ziki (Zimonjic) did an amazing job, Viktor is now the coach, we all supported him and we can’t wait to play for the national team again. We couldn’t play this year because of this situation, I hope there will be opportunities,” Krajinović commented.
The first glimpse of Troicki as a coach could occur earlier than Serbia’s next Davis Cup tie. Blic has reported that should the ATP Cup go ahead, he could be their team captain. Although this has not been confirmed.
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.
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.
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.
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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