CANADA b. SLOVAKIA 3-2
F. Polasek/M. Klizan (SVK) b. F. Auger-Aliassime/D. Shapovalov (CAN) 3-6 7-5 6-3
D. Shapovalov (CAN) b. M. Klizan (SVK) 7-6(4) 6-4
F. Auger-Aliassime (CAN) b. N. Gombos (SVK) 6-3 6-4
It took all five rubbers to decide the Slovakia-Canada tie this weekend in Bratislava, but in the end it was the “teenage gang” of Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger Aliassime that won the ticket for the Davis Cup Finals in Madrid next November. After the 1-1 result on Friday, the North American team went through a very disappointing loss in the doubles and was then forced to win both final singles rubbers to complete the comeback and seal their triumph.
In front of more than 3000 people who were already on the stands of the NTC Arena at the unusual start time of 11 am, Auger Aliassime and Shapovalov comfortably won the first set of the doubles rubber against the more experienced Slovaks Martin Klizan and Filip Polasek. The latter had played a few ATP tournaments together last fall during the indoor season, while the two Canadians had not been an official doubles couple since their title at the US Open juniors in 2016. Their defensive game was working perfectly against the more traditional offensive doubles strategy of the Slovak couple until at 5-5 in the second set Polasek started hitting very good returns from the deuce court followed by very effective volleys, and Klizan started to dictate from the ad court with his left-handed returns. In a moment the match was turned, the momentum went on the side of the Slovak couple that, after winning the second set by 7-5, managed to get a 3-1 lead in the third and see it through until the end of the match.
With the backs to the wall and two singles rubbers to win for a pass to Madrid, the two youngsters (37 years of age between the two of them) rolled up their sleeves and delivered a masterful performance.
Denis Shapovalov won by 7-6(4) 6-4 against n.38 ATP Martin Klizan in what was probably the best match of the weekend. High-level rallies, passing shots, blistering accelerations: Shapovalov took the lead in the fourth game with a break from 40-0 down and only hesitated a little when he squandered five set points at 5-3 and 5-4, allowing his opponent to catch him up at 5-5. Nonetheless, unscathed by the events, the young Canadian never lost control of the match, always remained in the lead during the subsequent tie-break and closed up the first set after 59 minutes on his seventh set point.
The second set continued to produce the same high level of tennis and saw Klizan make a couple of fatal unforced errors at 4-4 launching his opponent towards a straight-set victory that left the fate of the tie in the hands of the fifth rubber.
The arena was buzzing with excitement, fans and VIPs alike were all enthralled by the developing events (we say Marian Vajda, Novak Djokovic’s coach, in the stand to support the Slovak team) and the Slovak captain decided to trust Norbert Gombos instead of Filip Horansky with the decisive single. But it didn’t really matter that much, because 18-year-old Davis Cup rookie Felix Auger Aliassime provided an impeccable performance where he led from start to finish to deliver a 6-3 6-4 that earned Canada the ticket for the 2019 Davis Cup Finals in Madrid.
One of the youngest teams ever to represent a country in Davis Cup (most likely the youngest in history since 1988, when the USA played Argentina with the 18-year-old Andre Agassi and the 16-year-old Michael Chang) managed to complete a comeback from 1-2 down during an away tie on a surface that was not considered their favourite. “I think all the doubts about me not being able to play on clay are gone after today’s match – said Shapovalov after his win against Klizan – the level was really high and I’ve shown I can play on this surface”. With Milos Raonic and Vasek Pospisil potentially returning from their injuries and rejoining the team for the Madrid event, Canada can travel to the Davis Cup Finals with legitimate ambitions to fight for the ultimate prize.
Davis Cup In Danger After Kosmos Ends Partnership
The 25-year $3bn deal in place to protect the team event is coming to an end. It remains to be seen what happens next.
The future of the Davis Cup has been thrown into jeopardy following the departure of investment company Kosmos after they reportedly failed to reach a financial agreement with the International Tennis Federation.
Rumours of the partnership breaking up started to surface on social media on Thursday but Ubitennis has since been able to confirm that this is true through a national tennis federation source. According to the Spanish newspaper Marca, Kosmos’ exit from the Davis Cup occurred after they failed to reach an agreement with the ITF concerning the $40M fee per year.
The development is a massive blow for the ITF who originally signed a 25-year deal with Kosmos worth in the region of $3bn back in 2018 after their AGM voted in favour of making changes to the event. Something that prompted a substantial divide in the sport with critics accusing them of trying to destroy the historic team competition which has been in existence since 1900. Under the agreement, Kosmos took sole responsibility for the Davis Cup and its format.
During recent interviews with Ubitennis over the past three months, the CEO of Kosmos, Enrique Rojas, claimed the organization had desires to make the Davis Cup as prominent as a Grand Slam and said in a separate interview that he wanted to use ‘global ambassadors’ to promote the event.
The timeframe of the negotiations has not been made public and therefore it is unclear when Kosmos officially ended their collaboration.
One of the first officials to react to the development was Dirk Hordotff from the German Tennis Federation who agreed with Ubitennis for his remarks to be published. Hordorff is the current coach of Ricardas Berankis and has previously worked with former world No.5 Rainer Schuettler for 20 years.
“Time to review and heal this nonsense,” he said.
‘Bring back home and away ties which makes the Davis Cup so unique.’
“Solve the key issues of the problem: no short notice for organizations of the ties and have a minimum preparation for each event of one year. Don’t play the final every year and don’t play (the event) in Olympic years. The best thing during an Olympic year would be to have a team event at the Olympics.”
There is yet to be an official statement from either the ITF or Kosmos. However, an ITF spokesperson has confirmed to the AFP news Agency that the partnership is ‘ending in its fifth year.’ It is understood that this year’s Davis Cup will continue under the sole control of the ITF but it remains to be seen what happens to the future of the event.
As for Kosmos, they will still stay involved in tennis in some capacity. Earlier this month they announced the signings of Elina Svitolina, Borna Coric and Andrey Rublev to their management branch.
Criticism From Fellow Australians Deterring Nick Kyrgios From Davis Cup Duties
The tennis star has taken a swipe at his critics while discussing his commitment to the team tournament and if he will participate in it again.
Nick Kyrgios says his decision to not play in the Davis Cup is partly linked to what he describes as ‘negative’ comments from fans in his home country.
The Wimbledon runner-up was absent from the Australian team at this year’s finale which was held in Malaga last month. Australia, which was led by Alex de Minaur, reached the final before losing to Canada.
Despite his success on the Tour, Kyrgios hasn’t played in the Davis Cup since 2019. In the past, he has been publicly criticized for his behaviour in the sport and commitment to tennis. Speaking with the Australian Associated Press, the world No.22 said his decision not to play is partly related to his calendar and desire to spend time at home with his family. Although he admits that he would be tempted to get more involved in the event if he was ‘embraced more’ by the public.
“Maybe if Australia embraced me a little bit more, I would play it and bring home the trophy,” he told AAP.
“But who knows?
“It’s not always easy for me to erase everything in Australia that’s said negatively about me or my family.
“You don’t need that – so it’s interesting that they really want me to play, but are always criticising.”
The 27-year-old is no stranger to controversy and is known for receiving numerous code violations during matches. At his worst, he was slammed with a suspended ban three years ago from the ATP for ‘aggravated behaviour’ following an investigation.
However, Kyrgios’ controversial antics subsided during the 2022 season where he has reached new heights such as reaching his first Grand Slam final at Wimbledon and winning the Australian Open doubles title with Thanasi Kokkinakis. He also won the Washington Open in August.
“I don’t forget the first seven years of my career … they can’t just pick and choose,” Kyrgios commented on the support he has received.
“Look, I’ve always been one of the best players in the world – I’ve always held up my fair share of the bargain towards Australia.
“I feel like this is the first year I’ve earned respect when it should have been given when I first came on tour.
“I’ve represented (Australians), put them on the map, and having produced one of the most successful male years in the last decade for Australia, and am only just getting embraced (now).
“I don’t think that’s my fault.”
Kyrgios returned to the courts on Thursday to play at the lucrative Diriyah Tennis Cup in Saudi Arabia where the champion will receive $1M in prize money. However, his title chances have been ended by Cameron Norrie who beat him 10-6, 10-6, to reach the quarter-finals.
Quizzed about his decision to play at the exhibition event instead of the Davis Cup, the tennis star said it was an easy decision considering the reception he has received from fans and critics.
“At this point of my career, I’ll always do what’s best for me,” he stated.
“I can travel around the world playing exhibitions around this time of year for six figures – you know I feel I put myself in that position – so it’s an easy one for me.”
Kyrgios remains coy about his future in the Davis Cup after saying he might contemplate returning to the competition.
Tennis Great Jimmy Connors Criticizes Suspended Ban Of Davis Cup Staff Over Betting Violation
The eight-time Grand Slam winner has hit back at a ruling made by the International Tennis Integrity Agency.
Jimmy Connors believes tennis needs to embrace bettering after branding the decision to penalize two members of the American Davis Cup team for promoting a gambling organization as ‘going back to the dark ages.’
Team captain Mardy Fish and coach Bob Byran have been both issued with a $10,000 fine after admitting to promoting a gaming operator on their social media accounts. The duo have also been hit with a four-month suspended ban which means they must not commit any further offences during this period or they will be excluded from ITF events.
Whilst both Fish and Bryan are retired players, they are still subject to the rules of the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) as they are considered ‘covered persons’ in the sport due to the nature of their roles. The rulebook states that “directly or indirectly facilitating, encouraging and/or promoting” betting on tennis is not allowed.
“Bob and I did a DraftKings promo during the US Open that we were unaware we weren’t allowed to do,” Fish told The Associated Press via email. “As soon as we found out, I deleted the posts and cooperated with the ITIA.”
Weighing in on the issue, former world No.1 Connors argued that betting can have a positive impact on tennis and that the governing bodies should do more to capitalize on the opportunity. Whilst it is an offence for players and their staff to promote gambling, various tournaments around the world have sponsorship deals with betting companies.
“So what’s the bad thing? Do they wanna go back to the dark ages?,” Connors said on the Advantage Connors podcast.
“That (betting) just brings people more involved and get them more interested you know, what is going on with the players, who is the best, how they compete and so forth.”
“Tennis has been my life, but the excitement of being a basketball fan or baseball fan or football fan, the excitement of bringing that (betting) and being able to get more involved. I wanna watch tennis anyway but what’s gonna make me more involved and to be more part of it?” he added.
In the past, Connors has been open about his gambling addiction. In his autobiography, the Outsider, he revealed he once placed a $1M bet on his battle of the sexes match against Martina Navratilova in 1992 which he won 7-5, 6-2. He has since recovered from his gambling addiction but still believes it can mix with tennis.
Connors is the most decorated ATP singles player in history with 109 titles to his name.
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