Canada Sweeps Serbia to advance to Billie Jean King Cup Qualifiers - UBITENNIS
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Canada Sweeps Serbia to advance to Billie Jean King Cup Qualifiers

Leylah Fernandez sealed Canada’s place in the Billie Jean King Qualifiers.

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Leylah Fernandez (@TennisCanada - Twitter)

Leylah Fernandez beat Nina Stojanovic in the third singles match to seal the tie for Canada.

 

Canada has booked a spot in the 2022 Billie Jean King Cup qualifiers after beating Serbia 3-0 after Leylah Fernandez beat Nina Stojanovic in three tight sets 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in a match that last two hours and 46 minutes with the Canadian hitting 31 winners.

“I’m honestly very proud of myself that I was able to push through the nerves of this match, It wasn’t going to be easy with the way that she played at the beginning of the first set and it proved how great of a player she is, today I tried to fight through everything, the Serbian team, my emotions and I was happy that I was able to pull through in the third set with all the match points I missed and then when the lights went out that was a moment to remember but I’m glad I was able to just get the win for Canada and for us to qualify for the next round.”

Both players did a good job holding serve the first couple games and we didn’t see a breakpoint until 2-2 when the Serb had three looks and managed to convert at the third time of asking to take a 3-2 lead.

At 5-3 with Fernandez serving to stay in the set Stojanovic picked up her level and earned two set points on the Canadian serve and managed to seal the set on the second opportunity to take a one set lead.

The Canadian kept fighting despite the fact she was down and in the first game of the second set she earned a breakpoint but was unable to convert. The Serb continued to play well and earned two breakpoints at 2-1 and broke to take a 3-1 lead.

Once again the Montreal native battled and managed to get the break back the very next game playing some great tennis. She would earn the crucial break to take a 4-3 lead and would break once again to win the second set on her opponent’s service game.

Before the third set would commence Stojanovic would call the trainer and take a medical timeout to have work done on her foot. Despite that she was able to break the Canadian in the first game of the final set as Fernandez had a poor service game.

The Canadian once again using her fighting spirit and determination not to give up earned six breakpoints in a very long service game that lasted 10 minutes but was finally able to get the break back.

The next game the Serb tried to regain her lead and earned two more breakpoints but the Canadian hung in and saved both and would hold serve.

At 3-3 the Serb kept pushing for the breakthrough and earned another breakpoint but the Canadian once again saved it. The very next game it was the Montreal native turn to have a chance to break and at the second time of asking the Canadian would break with a superb passing shot to take a 5-3 lead and serve for the match and the tie.

Another poor service game followed and Fernandez was broken at love and the next game the Canadian had five match points but the Serb saved all five. Then out of nowhere the lights went out and there was a 10-15 minute delay to resolve the issue.

After the short delay the Canadian would earn a sixth match point and this time she would win it to seal the win and the tie for Canada. With the tie sealed the two countries decided to play doubles for the dead rubber and it was Rebecca Marino and Carol Zhao who faced off against Aleksandra Krunic and Ivana Jorovic and it was the Canadians who would come back from a set down to win 6-7, 6-3, 10-0 to make it 4-0 Canada after two days of action.

After the final doubles match Hedi El Tabakh spoke to the Canadian media and gave her final thoughts of the tie this weekend.

“It was a battle from start to finish, I know the score-line is 4-0 but it was much closer than that, were up 2-0, two tough matches yesterday and we were able to pull it off, and obviously Leylah match today was the decider, in my opinion, it could have swung either way so it was a battle till the end, Nina played incredible tennis and congrats to her for all her work on the court, she improved a ton and she’s broken the top 100 so Leylah had to earn it today so I’m really happy with the way things turned out for us and couldn’t ask for a better result”.

She told Ubitennis afterwards if she thinks it was her best tie so far as captain of team Canada.

“This was the toughest, I mean for us to come back and win these last two ties was huge and the way the girls performed on the court was very satisfying and this was a very important tie for us so I am pleased with the way we handled things this week, everything was smooth from start to finish, the girls had a great week of practicing leading up to the matches and they were match ready and they delivered which was big and we needed that and I congratulate them for that”

Davis Cup

Tennis Stars Voice Concerns Over Staging Tokyo Olympics

After being delayed by a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, top players such as Naomi Osaka and Kei Nishikori still have reservations.

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The area around the Olympic Rings and Olympic Stadium - (image via olympics.com)

Japan’s top male tennis player Kei Nishikori has questioned how much preparation the IOC and local officials in his home country has prepared for a ‘worst-case’ scenario of hosting the Olympics. 

 

The four-year event has already been postponed by 12 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic and some have called for the sporting extravaganza to be scrapped. Recently governors of nine Japanese prefectures said there should be an option to suspend or even cancel the Olympics altogether if cases in the region can’t be kept under control. Three of those governors are in charge of cities set to stage Olympic events. 

Weighing in on the debate, former US Open finalist Nishikori raises doubts over how organisers plan to hold a safe event given the high number of athletes that will be present, which is an estimated 11,000. Japan has already said that overseas fans are banned and international athletes will not be able to bring relatives with them to minimise the risk.

“I don’t know what they are thinking, and I don’t know how much they are thinking about how they are going to make a bubble, because this is not 100 people like these tournaments,” Nishikori said after his first-round match at the Italian Open on Monday.
“It’s 10,000 people in the village. So I don’t think it’s easy, especially what’s happening right now in Japan. It’s not doing good. Well, not even (just) Japan. You have to think all over the world right now.”

The world No.45 expresses a view similar to the of four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka who said earlier this week that she was ‘not sure’ if the event should go ahead due to the current case numbers.  

“I’m an athlete, and of course my immediate thought is that I want to play in the Olympics,” she said.
“But as a human, I would say we’re in a pandemic, and if people aren’t healthy, and if they’re not feeling safe, then it’s definitely a really big cause for concern.”

In the latest figures published by health officials, Tokyo reported 925 news cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday which is an increase of almost 400 compared to the previous day. Although Monday figures are usually low due to the closure of testing centres over the weekend. Tuesday’s number is higher compared to this time last week (609 cases) and two weeks ago (828 cases).

Besides the COVID-19 concerns, the prospect of having to go to the Games without a member of family could result in the absence of four-time gold medallist Serena Williams. The former world No.1 says she is undecided on playing the event and hasn’t been separated from her three-year-old daughter for more than 24 hours before.

“I haven’t spent 24 hours without her, so that kind of answers the question itself,” said Williams.
“I haven’t really thought much about Tokyo, because it was supposed to be last year and now it’s this year, and then there is this pandemic and there is so much to think about.
“Then there are the Grand Slams. It’s just a lot. So I have really been taking it one day at a time to a fault, and I definitely need to figure out my next moves.”

Besides athlete concerns, Olympic organisers are also facing falling public support. A recent poll conducted by newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun found that nearly 60% of respondents wanted the Games to be cancelled. Furthermore TBS news reported 65% of people surveyed in another poll wanted the event either cancelled or suspended again, with 37% supporting the cancellation and 28% in favour of suspension.

The Olympic tennis event is set to start on July 24th. 

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Davis Cup

Top Tennis Tournaments Among 97 Events UK Sport Hopes To Host Over The Next Decade

A plan for the ‘greatest decade of extraordinary sporting moments’ in the UK has been published and tennis is among the sports officials are interested in.

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London's O2 Arena, venue of the ATP World Tour Finals between 2009-2020 (photo by Alberto Pezzali)

The government agency responsible for investing in Olympic and Paralympic sport within Great Britain has said they could submit an application to host two team tennis events over the next decade.

 

UK Sport has labelled both the Billie Jean King Cup and Davis Cup Finals as an ‘opportunity’ for them to host in their 10-year strategic plan which will last until 2021. Overall the country is looking at the possibility of staging 97 events across 44 sports over the next 10 years. Those behind the plan believe such a move could generate a total of £7 billion for the UK economy. A live feasibility study is already underway for bidding to host the 2030 football World Cup, 2026 European Athletic Championships and more.

“Together we have achieved so much in Olympic and Paralympic sport. Nevertheless, we are very aware there is no room for complacency and that we must build on our success to create the next exciting phase of high-performance sport,” UK Sport chair Dame Katherine Grainger said in a statement.
“One where we work even more collaboratively and inclusively to keep winning and win well, in ways that will inspire more people and have a broader impact on our society.
“Achieving on the world stage will still sit firmly at the heart of what we do. But we should not underestimate the powerful platform that provides us with, and it is our shared responsibility to better harness this for positive social change.”

When it comes to both the Billie Jean King Cup and Davis Cup, UK Sport has categorized them as a mega event. Meaning they are ‘seen as the pinnacle of their sport at World level and which have significant staging costs, attract more than 100,000 live spectators, entail considerable delivery complexity and require extensive public funding and guarantee commitments.’ At present they have been labelled as an ‘opportunity’ by the agency. Meaning that no decision to bid to host them has been made yet but remains a good possibility.

The government made no reference to what venues could be used, especially regarding the tennis events which will require more than one court due to the change of the tournament in recent years. The finals of the team events now last for a week or so and are done initially in a group format before turning into a knock-out stage.

This year’s Davis Cup finals are taking place across three European cities. However, the women’s equivalent remains in doubt after the ITF ended their contract with the Hungarian Tennis Association who were meant to be holding the event. Hungary recently sent a letter saying it was no longer feasible to do so due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The UK is best known for its staging of the prestigious Wimbledon Championships, as well as other grass-court events. Furthermore, it also experienced great success in hosting the ATP Finals between 2009-2020 which attracted more than 2.8 million visitors during that period.

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Fed Cup

Billie Jean King Cup Finals In Doubt After ‘Surprise’ Withdrawal By Host Hungary

Organisers face a race again time to find a new venue if they wish to hold the event this season which has already been postponed twice.

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The International Tennis Federation has been dealt a blow after the Hungarian Tennis Association (HTA) said it is no longer feasible for them to host their premier women’s team event.

 

The finals of the Billie Jean King Cup, which was previously known as the Fed Cup, have been thrown into doubt this season after the termination of a contract. Reuters News Agency has reported that Budapest told the ITF they can no longer stage the event due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the various variants which pose a risk. It is understood that a letter detailing their decision was sent on April 22nd.

Back in February both the ITF and HTA said they were committed to staging the event later on in the year at some stage. A total of 12 teams has qualified for the event which involves more than 60 athletes, support teams, officials and event staff. It has already been postponed twice due to the pandemic.

“We have been working closely with the Hungarian Government and the Hungarian Tennis Association (HTA) to review all feasible options to reschedule this year’s Finals,” ITF Chief David Haggerty told Reuters.
“After working together in good faith for the past year, we were surprised and disappointed to be informed that the HTA no longer considers it possible to hold the event in Budapest.
“Given the timing, the ITF has been left with no other option than to end the hosting agreement with Hungary and explore an alternative solution.”

Finding an alternative solution will be easier said than done. Not only are the ITF on the lookout for a country who can stage a week-long event at such short notice, they are also still working on what date to schedule it which will not collide with the WTA Tour.

Also in their letter, the HTA reportedly said that they had wanted to look into the contract which was signed back in 2019. To ensure that the event which would have been financed by Hungarian tax payers would have ‘minimal losses.’

Despite the setback, Haggerty has vowed to stage the revamped competition when it is possible to do so. In 2019 it was announced that the competition would be changed to a ‘world cup of tennis’ format. Similar to that of the Davis Cup, which has been transformed following a substantial investment by Kosmos. Teams will not compete for US$18 million, with US$12 million going to players and US$6 million to national associations.

The ITF will do everything in its power — for the sport, the players, nations, and the fans — to ensure this landmark competition in tennis and women’s sports will be held as soon as it is reasonably practicable,” Haggerty said.

France, Russia, Hungary, Australia, Belarus, Belgium, the United States, Spain, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Germany and Switzerland are the teams set to play in the Finals.

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