Marin Cilic leads Croatia against India in Davis Cup qualifier in Zagreb - UBITENNIS
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Marin Cilic leads Croatia against India in Davis Cup qualifier in Zagreb

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Former US Open champion Marin Cilic will lead Croatia against India in Zagreb in the Davis Cup Qualifiers taking place on 6-7 March 2020. Cilic won five singles matches and one double match in 2018 to guide Croatia to their first Davis Cup title since 2005.

 

The Croatian team also features Borna Gojo, who lost his first Davis Cup singles matches to Andrey Rublev and Rafael Nadal in his debut in the 2019 Finals in Madrid, Nino Serdarusic and experienced doubles specialists Franko Skugor and Ivan Dodig.

The Indian team includes Sumit Nagal and 46-year-old veteran Leander Paes, who will play in his 93rd Davis Cup match.

Gojo will face Prajnesh Gunneswaran in the first singles match on Friday before Cilic takes on Ramkumar Ramanathan. Skugor will team up with Pavic in the doubles match against Leander Paes and Ramkumar Ramanathan.

Last year’s Monte-Carlo Masters 1000 champion Fabio Fognini will be bidding to continue his unbeaten streak when Italy hosts South Korea in Cagliari behind close doors due to the outbreak of coronavirus. The Italian team captained by Corrado Barazzutti will also feature Gianluca Mager, Lorenzo Sonego, Stefano Travaglia and doubles specialist Simone Bolelli.

Fognini will play in Friday’s opening match against Duckhee Lee, who became the first deaf player to win a match in the main draw of an ATP tournament beating Henri Laaksonen in Winston Salem.

Gianluca Mager will face Ju-Sung Nam in Friday’s second singles match. Mager made a major breakthrough last month, when he came through the qualifying round to reach his first ATP 500 final in Rio De Janeiro after beating world number 3 Dominic Thiem.

Christian Garin will lead Chile against Sweden in Stockolm. Garin won two back-to-back titles in Cordoba and Rio de Janeiro. Sweden will be represented by brothers Mikael and Elias Ymer.

Brazil’s Next Gen player Thiago Seyboth Wild will play his debut match in the Davis Cup against Australia’s John Milliman in Friday’s second match in Adelaide. Seyboth Wild has become the first player born in 2000 to win an ATP title at the Chile Open in Santiago de Chile last week. Thiago Monteiro will take on Jordan Thomspon in the opening singles match. Australian debutant James Duckworth will team up with his doubles partner John Peers against Marcelo Demoliner and Felipe Meligeni Rodriguez Alves.

Austria’s Dennis Novak will face Uruguay’s Martin Cuevas on the opening singles match in Graz before debutant Jurij Rodionov takes on former top 20 player Pablo Cuevas. Experienced Austrian player Oliver Marach and Juergen Melzer will face Pablo Cuevas and Ariel Behar.

Mikhail Kukushkin and Robin Haase will face off in the opening match between Kazakhstan and the Netherlands in Nur-Sultan. Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik will face Tallon Griekspoor in a clash between two players, who made their debut in the Davis Cup in 2019. Andrey Golubev and Aleksander Nedovyesov are set to face Dutch doubles specialists Wesley Koolhof and Jean-Julien Rojer.

Dusseldorf will host the match between Germany and Belarus. Jan Lennard Struff will play against Ilya Ivashka in Fiday’s opening match, before German veteran Phillip Kohlschreiber faces Egor Gerasimov. Last year’s Roland Garros champions Andreas Mies and Kevin Krawietz will play against Dzmitriy Zhyrmont and Andrei Visilevski in the doubles match.

Hungarian number 1 player Attila Balazs will face Belgium’s Ruben Bemelmans, before Marton Fucsovics takes on Kimmer Coppejans. Doubles specialists Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen are set to face Balasz and Fucsovics.

Neighbouring teams Slovakia and Czech Republic will meet for the first time in a Davis Cup tie. Slovakia’s Jozef Kovalik will face Czech Republic’s Jiri Veseli in the opening match, before Andrej Martin takes on Lukas Rosol in the second match.

Kei Nishikori has pulled out of the Davis Cup qualifier between Japan and Equador. Go Soeda will take on Emilio Gomez in the opening match, before Yasutaka Uchiyama squares off against Robert Quiroz. The tie will be played behind closed doors at the Bourbon Beams Dome in Miki just outside Kobe to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

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Miomir Kecmanovic saves six match points to beat Daniel Evans in Tokyo

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Miomir Kecmanovic saved six match points in a single game, including one with a tweener, to beat Daniel Evans 6-3 3-6 7-6 (7-4) reaching the quarter final at the Rakuten Japan Open in Tokyo. 

 

Kecmanovic won the opening set 6-3 with a single break in the sixth game. He went up a break at love in the first game of the second set, but Evans broke straight back to draw level to 1-1. The British player earned his second break in the fourth game and held his next service games to seal the second set 6-3. 

Kecmanovic broke in the fourth game to take a 4-1 lead, but Evans pulled back on serve to win four consecutive games earning a chance to serve for the match. 

Kecmanovic went down 0-40, as Evans was serving at 5-4 in the third set. The Serbian player broke serve in a four-deuce game, but he wasted a match point on return at 6-5, before winning the final four points to seal the tie-break 7-4. 

“That was the first time that I was able to do that. I was tuned out of the match and I just went for it in that moment. It was the first time I ever made a tweener in a match. I am beyond happy that I was able to do it. I had a lot of ups and downs, especially in the third set , being 4-1. Somehow I managed to stay in, and thankfully I am still here”, said Kecmanovic. 

Frances Tiafoe beat Bernabe Zapata Miralles 6-1 7-6 (9-7) in the opening match. Tiafoe earned three breaks to cruise through to a 6-1 lead. Zapata Miralles earned his first break in the third game to take a 3-1 lead. Tiafoe broke back in the sixth game to draw level to 3-3. Both Zapata Miralles and Tiafoe saved a break point in the the 10th and 11th games. Tiafoe went up a mini-break twice in the mini-break, but Zapata Miralles pulled back on serve both times. 

Tiafoe sealed the win on his fifth match point to reach his sixth quarter final of the season. The US player won his 13th tie-break to reach the quarter finals for the first time in Tokyo.

“I think handling those big moments, tie-breaks and stuff like that, the key is focusing on what you can focus on and just playing to win, playing aggressive. I have a lot of shots in the book, so I am trying to make the match on my terms and have that belief”, said Tiafoe. 

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Billie Jean King Praises Grand Slam Semi-Finalist Nadia Podoroska For Coming Out

The Argentine recently marked her girlfriend’s birthday with an Instagram post which was also the first time she went public about her personal life.

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Tennis legend Billie Jean King has congratulated Nadia Podoroska on being her authentic self after the tennis star recently confirmed she is in a same-sex relationship with another player. 

 

Podoroska, who shot to the limelight at the 2021 French Open by reaching the semi-finals before being hampered by injury, made a low key coming out on social media. In an Instagram post, the tennis star uploaded a series of photos of her with her girlfriend along with the caption “Today I celebrate you from afar, but I feel you by my side every day of my life.’ The post was done to mark her birthday. 

Fellow player Guillermina Naya is Podoroska’s partner and the two have been in a relationship for some time, according to Women’s Tennis Blog. Naya, who is also from Argentina, is currently ranked 814th in the world but has been as high as 533rd. Although she has not played on the Tour this year. 

Due to injury problems, Podoroska was unable to start her 2022 season until July on the lower-level ITF Tour. Since then she has made steady progress by reaching the final of an ITF W60 event in Gran Canaria and more recently reaching the semi-finals of the Chennai Open in India. 

“I had been suffering from physical discomfort in one leg. I decided to stop in order to recover. Then I had a bone oedema, I couldn’t walk, and I had to wear a boot. Then I got a knee injury in the other leg,” she said of her injury woes during an interview with Clay Tennis.

The 25-year-old credits her girlfriend Naya for the support she received during her 10-month absence from the sport. She is the latest player on the WTA Tour to open up about their sexuality, joining the likes of Daria Kasatkina, Alison Van Uytvanck and Greet Minnen.

“Congratulations to WTA player ⁦⁦Nadia Podoroska ⁩ on her announcement. Living authentically takes such courage, but it is always worth it,” multiple Grand Slam champion King wrote on Twitter. 

In response to the post, the tennis star also paid tribute to King for the impact she has had on the sport. King helped form the WTA Tour and was a key figure in the fight to equal prize money during the early part of the Open Era. She was also one of the first world-class athletes to publicly come out as gay back in 1981. 

Whilst there are various female LGBT players in tennis, there are still no openly gay players on the men’s Tour. 

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Iga Swiatek reaches her eleventh quarter final of the season in Ostrava

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World number 1 Iga Swiatek has reached her eleventh quarter final this year at the Agel Open in Ostrava after Ajla Tomljanovic was forced to withdraw from the match due to a left knee injury, when she was trailing 7-5 2-2. 

 

Swiatek raced out to a 4-1 lead with a break in the second game and came two points from a 5-1 lead, but Tomljanovic held serve. 

Tomljanovic broke back in the seventh game to draw level to 4-4 and held two break points, but she was not able to convert them. Swiatek converted her second set point, as Tomljanovic netted a volley. 

All four games of the second set went to deuce. Tomljanovic earned an early break in the first game of the second set. Swiatek broke straight back in the second game after a six-deuce game. Tomljanovic started to clutch saved a break point to hold serve at deuce before retiring from the match. 

“We played in Toronto and I saw in the US Open how well Ajla played. It seems she is really on a roll and she is playing better and better. It was a great match and it’s unfortunate that something happened. I hope she is going to recover quickly”, said Swiatek. 

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