Roger Federer cruised through US rising star Frances Tiafoe 6-4 6-1 in just 57 minutes in the first match of the eagerly-awaited Hopman Cup tie between the USA and Switzerland in Perth.
Roger Federer played the second singles match in this year’s Hopman Cup two days after beating Cameron Norrie from Great Britain 6-1 6-1. The Swiss Maestro continued his perfect record in the 2019 edition of the Australian tournament with another straight-set win over Frances Tiafoe.
Federer, who won the Hopman Cup title in 2018 alongside Belinda Bencic, produced another solid performance dropping just eleven points in his service games. He never faced a break point in the whole match and converted three of his five break points.
Tiafoe fended off a break point in the opening game. Both players held on their serve until 4-4, before Federer won his service game after two deuces in the ninth game with a backhand down the line winner. The 20-time Grand Slam champion sealed the first set with a break in the 10th game after Tiafoe made a huge backhand error.
Federer went up a set and a break in the second game of the second set after a backhand error from Tiafoe. Federer got the double break to race out to a 4-0 lead, when Tiafoe missed a backhand slice. Tiafoe held serve to get his first game on the scoreboard after leading 40-0 lead.
The Swiss legend hit three winners to close out the second set after 22 minutes, when he was serving for the match.
“The good thing is that I have played against him a little bit already. I have seen him playing a lot at the Laver Cup as well. He brings the power on the court. Today he did not feel his best. I believe, especially on the serve as the match got a lot closer. I played another good match. I am very happy. A great start for me. I will stay on the bike and keep the engine on. I had a really late night on New Year’s Eve. No I am joking”,said Federer in the post match interview.
EXCLUSIVE Interview With US Davis Cup Captain Mardy Fish: “If Davis Cup Fails, We All Fail”
Mardy Fish takes the reins of the US Davis Cup team and feels very strongly about the new format for the competition: “If you love Davis Cup you have to support it, even with this format”
After Jim Courier’s resignation from the role of US Davis Cup Captain last September after the defeat in the 2018 semifinal against Croatia, the USTA decided to take their time and make some changes to the duties required by the role. Following Courier’s suggestion that “the new captain should be someone closer in age to the players”, the United States Tennis Association decided to trust former world no.7 Mardy Fish with this important responsibility, also making him a key figure in the Player Development Program, expanding the role of captain into a year-round presence at tournaments around the world to provide a bigger support to players.
While we were covering the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Mardy found the time to talk to Ubitennis over the phone from his house in California and provided some insight into this new adventure for him.
What can you tell us about your first few months in your new role?
It’s been a fun few months, adjusting from the role of peer to the other players to that of captain. I have found a lot of respect towards me from the other players and this is obviously a great thing. I have always been a huge fan of Davis Cup, I have always said yes whenever I had the opportunity to play it, and it’s an honor to be in this role.
You retired a few years ago from professional tennis: how do you feel about getting back on the road now that your life is structured in a different way?
My life at home has been quite established, with my wife and my two kids, but I have been doing a bit of personal traveling for some exhibitions and for golfing. This role will not require a lot of traveling, I will just do what I need to create some camaraderie in the team: I have spent a few days in Indian Wells, from Tuesday to Saturday, I will be a few days in Miami, then I won’t be around much for the European season and I will travel again to tournaments in the summer. I just need the players to know that they have my support and the support of the USTA if it’s needed.
What do you think about the new formula for the Davis Cup?
I think it’s too early to tell right now, we will find out how it goes. On paper the formula sounds awesome, the time was right for a change, although I’m not sure if it was necessary to make it as drastic as this. I know there are some people that feel very strongly against this new formula, but this means that people are passionate about Davis Cup, they really care about it.
The date in the calendar for the Finals is quite tough though. But at the end of the day, if it’s Davis Cup the majority of players will find a way to participate and I’m convinced we will get an excellent field.
As far as the US Team is concerned, I don’t foresee any availability issue from our players, especially the younger ones: they are very excited about playing for the USA, the National Team is in a lot of conversations among our players. I can’s speak for other countries, I know some of them have pledged not to play with the new format, but what we need to remember is that we are all responsible for Davis Cup: if Davis Cup fails, we all fail, we are all together on the same boat. For example, the Australian players are all very passionate about Davis Cup, they love it, and that is fantastic. But if they don’t support it, it’s not going to work.
With the new formula, a team getting to the final will need to play six ties in seven days: how important do you think it will be to have a ‘long bench’?
I think it will be important to bring players who play only singles and other players who play only doubles. I believe that teams that only have one or two players, as it could be for Russia, and relying on them to play both singles and doubles could get into a bit of a situation should they get to the business end of the competition, because their players may get there quite tired. We are lucky in that sense because we can have someone like Jack Sock who could play doubles leaving the singles guys free to worry about the singles.
Tennis politics have recently made the headlines with Chris Kermode not being renewed as the ATP CEO. What is your take on this?
I have spoken to some of the guys who are in the Players’ Council and once again I need to stress that they do what they do because they act with passion. They are passionate about tennis, they act out of love for the game even if their ranking is not high. I know Kermode personally from when he was the Tournament Directors at the Queen’s Tournament and everything was perfect for me; I don’t have direct experience with him at the helm of the ATP, I had already retired when he took the reins of the organization.
A few weeks ago the ITF decided the composition of the Round Robin phase of the Davis Cup Final and the US team will be in the same group as Italy and Canada. Can you tell us about these teams?
Well, Canada has the right mix of experience and youth: Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger Aliassime are going to be there for a long time, and Milos [Raonic] will be able to give them all the support they need. Similarly, Italy has an established core of players such as Fabio Fognini and Andreas Seppi that will be supplemented by Marco Cecchinato, whom I know him anyway because he is was my opponent in my last match ever at the US Open.
I am very confident about our chances in this group: we have three top 60 players who are still 21 years old or younger, who are Tiafoe, Fritz and Opelka. Tiafoe has just reached the Quarterfinals of the Australian Open, and that’s not a result that you can improvise, you need to beat good players to get there. They will be the core of our team for the years to come, and they will be helped by more established veterans like John [Isner] or Sam [Querrey].
BNP Paribas Ends Their 17 Year Sponsorship With Davis Cup
BNP Paribas will no longer sponsor the Davis Cup after 17 years.
BNP Paribas have ended their 17 year title sponsorship with the Davis Cup as they rebrand to the world cup of tennis.
The move was announced in a press release as BNP Paribas look to focus on sponsoring the Fed Cup as well as the junior and wheelchair events.
It is clear that the move has been finalised due to the Davis Cup’s new 18 team format which will be tested in November this year in Madrid.
Although there has been criticism of the new event this is the first time a sponsorship has been dropped from the Davis Cup and the banking company’s intent.
Head of communications, Bertrand Cizeau, explained his decision, “We decided with the ITF to conclude the ‘Davis Cup by BNP Paribas’ partnership as the competition format evolves,” Cizeau explained.
“During 17 years, we have been happy alongside fans, players and local audiences, all around the world, and to have fuelled their passion during unforgettable matches.”
The move is certainly stunning to the ITF but their president David Haggerty did thank BNP Paribas for their contribution, “BNP Paribas has made a vast contribution to the success of the Davis Cup as a title sponsor over the past 17 years,” Haggerty said.
“We are proud of the great work we have achieved together for Davis Cup, and we look forward to continuing our relationship across a number of properties from the grassroots to the top of the game.”
The dedicated partner will continue to work with the ITF with a variety of schemes and projects including developing the Junior and Wheelchair events.
However with talk of a 12 team Fed Cup event similar to the Davis Cup one, would BNP Paribas stop its partnership with the Fed Cup and how would that impact the ITF?
As for David Haggerty he will now aim to rebrand the competition into the ‘Davis Cup, World Cup Of Tennis,’ as many see this as a significant change in the history of the competition that has now gone on for 118 years.
Toni Nadal Says Controversial ITF Transition Tour Only Benefits ‘Young Rich People’
In a video released on Sunday the uncle of Rafael Nadal has said the new system discourages players.
The former full-time coach of Rafael Nadal has become the latest tennis figure to speak out against the controversial Transition Tour.
Toni Nadal, who is the head of his nephew’s academy in Mallorca, has pledged his support behind players calling for a change to the new system. At the start of 2019, 1500 people lost their professional ranking into the sport following the creation of the Transition Tour by the International Tennis Federation (ITF). Following an extensive research process, which the ITF says involved a survey of 55,000 individuals involved in tennis, the changes took place. Players now have to compete on the transition tour to earn ITF points. The idea being that once they generate enough points, they can progress to the ATP or WTA Tour.
Despite the aim of trying to ensure players participating in lower level events have a better standard of living, many have said they have been left worse off and have been struggling to enter ITF tournaments. Canadian left-hander Maria Patrascu launched a change.org petition to change the new format. Attracting more than 14,000 signatures to date.
“What should be the objective of the International Tennis Federation? In my opinion, it should be to promote our sport and make it available to all of our players. The new rules adopted discourages players.” Toni said in a Facebook video.
Commenting further on the situation, the 58-year-old believes an uneven playing ground has now formed on the court. Saying that only ‘young rich people’ are able to play under the new system.
“Who can player under these new rules? Only the young rich people. Is that correct? I don’t think so. What happens to the people with not a lot of money? What happens to the people who decide to study and want to go professional in the future? They can’t. In my opinion you have to change these rules.” He said.
Toni Nadal is the latest public figure who disagrees with the Transition Tour. pic.twitter.com/Y6V6by91Ii
— Luis (@lu_tenis) March 3, 2019
Uncle Toni is the latest in a rapidly growing list of people hitting out at the ITF. Magnus Norman, who is the coach of Stan Wawrinka, has said that he had spoken to many players and coaches who were ‘not happy’ about the tour.
“For me, I find it very hard to work around the fact that we are cutting jobs in tennis.” Normal wrote on his personal blog. “If I would to work towards something I would turn things around. I would look at it from the other angle and try to make it better for each and every player instead globally.”
I agree 100% with Toni and @normansweden . The ITF has to re-think these rules. We have to support the players ranked between 100 and 1000 atp and make things possible for them rather than discourage them. https://t.co/S1JO4rIDyo
— Patrick Mouratoglou (@pmouratoglou) March 3, 2019
Former top 10 player Janko Tipsarevic is currently ranked 455th in the world and has his own tennis academy is another critic.
“These changes that are being done by the ITF are doing nothing else but ruining and destroying the sport. I’m seeing so much pain and suffering.” The Serbian commented on Facebook.
Despite the widespread condemnation, the governing body has refused to scrap the Transition Tour. Arguing that the negativity surrounding it has been partly been created by misinformation. Although they have confirmed that they are open to making adjustments.
“For all the reasons we’ve set out explaining why we looked to do reforms in the first place, it would be not at all optimal to go back,” ITF Executive Director for Circuits Jakie Nesbitt recently told reporters.
“I don’t want to get to a situation where we have huge amounts of prize money but we’re delivering so poorly for players. To have so few even managing to break even, we have to be able to do better than that.”
“I don’t see any convincing argument in favour of a return to the old system. The new system has to deliver better for players, if there are changes that need to be made they will become fairly obvious fairly quickly.”
Life on the transition tour in quotes
“The number of places for players to participate in these tournaments is limited, so players with no ranking or bad ranking have no chance to participate in the tournaments. I’ve heard from a lot of players flying around the world, going to tournaments and couldn’t get in in reason of the limited qualification size.” – Dirk Hordorff (VP of Tennis Germany)
“I would really like to meet a person who came up with this idea about the ITF transition tour and congratulate him. All the ideas that person got cannot function even in a perfect world because players have zero benefit from it and they don’t make any sense.” Ana Vrljić (Croatia)
“Money talks and money rules. They don’t need any players outside of top 100. They need the big names and the big profit from slams. By changing the rule, they secured easier stability for the top and impossible possibility for young, mid and lower ranked players to exist. If you don’t have the big agency behind you or a big sponsor you might as well quit.” Sesil Karatantcheva (Belarus)
“It’s a shambles. Everyone is responsible for this mess. It’s impossible to state how much knock in effect this will have negatively for anyone involved in tennis.” Mark Petchey (former player, Great Britain)
‘We all agree that ITF is not fulfilling their mandate of overseeing and promoting tennis worldwide.” Sergiy Stakhovsky (Ukraine)
“My ranking won’t even guarantee me a place in the qualifiers. Last year, I won a USD 25000 tournament and I was hoping I would at least start playing the qualifier rounds of the Challengers this season but for that I will have to improve my ITF ranking. But for that I need to play 25k events,” – Adil Kalyanpur (India)
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