Australia, Italy Dominate To Edge Closer To Place In Davis Cup Finals - UBITENNIS
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Australia, Italy Dominate To Edge Closer To Place In Davis Cup Finals

The two former champions of the team tournament made a near-perfect start to their two-day qualifying ties.

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Australia is a win away from securing a place in November’s Davis Cup finals after John Milman and Alex de Minaur kick-started their campaign with straight sets wins on Friday.

 

Taking on Bosnia and Herzegovina in Adelaide, Millman kick-started his country’s offensive with a 6-3, 6-2, win over Damir Dzumhur. A player who is ranked his 16 places lower than him in the ATP rankings. Milman was able to convert five of his seven break point opportunities and blasted four aces past Dzumhur. It was only the second time the 29-year-old has played a match in the competition and the first since his country’s semi-final clash with Belgium in 2017.

“I was determined to get the ball rolling in the right direction straight away,” said Millman.

Australian No.1 de Minaur made it 2-0 for the hosts with a 6-3, 7-6(0), win over Mirza Basic. The Next Gen star claimed 76% of his first service points and 89% behind his second. Capitalising on Basic’s 36 unforced errors and saving seven out of the eight break points he faced.

“It’s a dream come true for me, and I’m so happy that I finally was able to get a win for my country in the Davis Cup,” De Minaur said afterwards. “I think it’s amazing that we had Jonny Millman come out and get his first win (in the Davis Cup), as well.”

Heading into the clash, Australian men’s tennis has been surrounded by controversy. In January Bernard Tomic launched a verbal attack on Lleyton Hewitt. Claiming the former world No.1 was not liked by his compatriots. Hewitt later responded to those comments by saying his family has been threatened by Tomic in the past. Meanwhile, Nick Kyrgios was not picked for the tie after failing to meet ‘cultural standards.’

Despite the controversies, Millman has said the performances by him and de Minaur illustrates Hewitt’s capability of leading the Davis Cup team.

“It’s no secret that Lletyon wants to create a real culture where Davis Cup is one of the benchmarks of the year,” Millman told reporters in Adelaide.
“The opportunity to represent your country, as it was back in the old days, is something that we don’t take for granted.
“I’m all for that. It always should be like that.”

The tie will resume on Saturday with the doubles. Australia needs to win one out of their next three matches in order to qualify for the week-long finals in what is a new format for the competition.

Italy spoils India’s dream

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On the grass courts of the Calcutta South Club, Italy experienced little difficulty against India on their opening day. The tie is the first time the two countries have clashed since 1998. Andreas Seppi started the clash with a comprehensive 6-4, 6-2, win over Ramkumar Ramanathan. Hitting 23 winners alongside 22 unforced errors. World No.37 Seppi has become a key figure in his country’s Davis Cup team. The last season he didn’t play in the competition was back in 2011.

The 2-0 lead was then secured by Matteo Barattini. The 22-year-old, who won his first ATP title last July, is making his debut in the competition this weekend. Berrettini fired six aces past Prajnesh Gunneswaran to win 6-4, 6-3, in under an hour.

“I was dreaming about this as a child. I was really happy and focused on the match. I’m really enjoying the moment and I’m glad it went my way,” Berrettini said about winning his first match in the competition.

Three-time Davis Cup finalists India faces a tall order to turn their fortunes around on Saturday. The country was in a similar situation against China last year before fighting their way back to win 3-2. Team captain Mahesh Bhupathi is hoping his country will be inspired to do the same again.

“They are so much more experienced. If you take your chances you get rewarded. We understand the pressure of playing for the country. Strange things happen. It has happened in China. I know Italians are stronger than China but we will take one match at a time,” Bhupathi told The Press Trust of India.

As for Italy, they are bidding to win the title this year for the first time since 2096.

Elsewhere at the Davis Cup. Serbia has a 2-0 lead over Uzbekistan and Japan is tied at 1-1 with China.

Davis Cup

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.

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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.

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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.

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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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Davis Cup Finals In Doubt, Admits Gerard Pique

The Kosmos founder explains why he isn’t too optimistic about the team event going ahead later this year.

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MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 24: Crowds of peoples during of the Davis Cup by Rakuten Madrid Finals 2019 at Caja Magica on November 24, 2019 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Pedro Salado / Kosmos Tennis)

The chances of this year’s Davis Cup Finals taking place are still up in the air with one of the key figures involved in the competition openly saying that he is ‘pessimistic’ about its chances.

 

Football star Gerard Pique is one the driving forces behind the new format following a huge financial investment from his company Kosmos. Signing a 25-year deal with the International Tennis Federation worth in the region of $3 billion. Despite the significant investment, Pique admits that he has low hopes of the event taking place later this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. All professional tennis tournaments have been halted since March.

“There is a lot of uncertainty, we try to be aware of what the government says regarding sports and to whether we can put spectators inside the Caja Magica,” Pique said during an interview with Movistar.
“I would say I am a bit pessimistic, because a Davis Cup without fans is difficult.
“I think that nobody at the moment has the certainty that we can put fans in or if it will have to be behind closed doors. As the days go by, I suppose we will have a little more clarity.”

Spain is currently in the process of relaxing some of their lockdown restrictions with tennis players being able to train at local facilities from next week. The country is following a four-stage plan with the hope that their premier La Liga football league will resume next month at some stage.

However, the issue for the Davis Cup is the limited number of fans that would be able to go to the tournament if it takes place. In more advanced stages of the plans, no more than 50 people can attend an indoor venue. Although the number could be increased by November, it will be a stark difference to 2019. Held at the Caja Magica, the total capacity of the premier court is 12,500 people.

Last year’s final saw Spain lift the title for the first time since 2011 after they defeated Canada in the final. The two teams are seeded third and sixth in this year’s draw.

The Davis Cup is scheduled to take place between November 23-29 in Madrid. The ATP, WTA and ITF will not restart their Tour’s until at least July 13th, however, there is speculation that the suspension will be extended in the coming weeks.

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