Novak Djokovic, Ash Barty Learn Their Pathway To Olympic Glory - UBITENNIS
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Novak Djokovic, Ash Barty Learn Their Pathway To Olympic Glory

The draws for the Tokyo Olympics have been announced!

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Novak Djokovic (SRB) serving against Matteo Berrettini (ITA) in the final of the Gentlemen's Singles on Centre Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 13 Sunday 11/07/2021. Credit: AELTC/Ben Solomon

Novak Djokovic will begin his quest for a first Olympic gold medal in Tokyo against Bolivia’s Hugo Dellien whilst reigning champion Andy Murray faces a tough opening match against Felix Auger-Aliassime.

 

The draw for most Olympic tennis events (except the mixed doubles) took place on Thursday morning with 64 players entered into the men’s singles tournament. Djokovic’s route to the gold medal sees him start against the Bolivian world No.139 who has never beaten a top 10 player in his career. Then in the second round a meeting against either Jan-Lennard Struff or Thiago Monteiro awaits. Should all matches go according to the rankings, Djokovic could play Alejandro Davidovich, Andrey Rublev, Alexander Zverev and Daniil Medvedev.

“(The) Olympics are specific in terms of pressure, expectations and emotions – everything is different compared to other tournaments and I know that very well, I felt it on my own skin in the past. Therefore, I will try to approach the Olympics in the same way that I approach other tournaments, so that I can stay focused on my goal.” Djokovic told reporters in Belgrade earlier this week.

At the other end of the draw, second seed Medvedev faces Alexander Bublik in his opening match in what will be their second meeting of the season. The Russian beat Bublik in straight sets at the French Open back in May. In his section of the draw, Medvedev could play Fabio Fognini in the third round.

Stefanos Tsitsipas will start his bid to become the first man from his country to win an Olympic medal in the Open Era against Philipp Kohlschreiber. Greece has only won two medals in tennis which occurred all the way back in 1896. Meanwhile, Alexander Zverev will take on Lu Yen-Hsun who has won an impressive 37 Challenger titles during his career.

As for the first round matches to look out for, Murray’s opening clash with Auger-Aliassime will be a chance for him to avenge his loss to the Canadian at the US Open last year. Meanwhile, home favourite Kei Nishikori will take on fifth seed Andrey Rublev in what promises to be a mouthwatering encounter. Finally, Wimbledon semi-finalist Hubert Hurkacz will take on Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics.

Barty, Osaka headline women’s draw

image via twitter.com/AUSOlympicTeam

Two-time Grand Slam champion Ash Barty will play Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo in her opening match. It will be the first time she has played the Spaniard, who lost to Angerlique Kerber in the second round at Wimbledon, on the Tour. Should she win Barty will play either Latvia’s Anastasija Sevastova or France’s Fiona Ferro. Also in her section is Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and French Open champion Barbora Krejčíková.

“I think representing your country is the highest honour,” Barty told itftennis.com. “For an Aussie, it’s the best thing you can do, and I can’t wait to have an opportunity to wear the green and gold.
“You’re playing for something bigger than yourself, you’re playing to make people proud, and that’s not just with the results, that’s with the attitude. With the Australian spirit that a lot of people talk about, it’s evident when you really see it and all of the athletes in that Olympic team are the very best at bringing that attitude and bringing that spirit.”

Naomi Osaka will make her return to professional tennis against China’s Zheng Saisai. The Japanese world No.2 hasn’t played a match since the French Open after taking time off due to her mental health. Osaka recently revealed that she has suffered from depression and social anxiety since 2018. She could play Kiki Bertens in the third round followed by Iga Swiatek.

In other first round matches, Aryna Sabalenka will play Magda Linette, Elina Monfils plays Laura Siegemund and Karolina Pliskova faces Alize Cornet.

Only one out of the three women who won an Olympic singles medal in Rio 2016 is playing in Tokyo. Bronze medallist Petra Kvitova starts against Jasmine Paolini and has been drawn in the same section as Garbine Muguruza who she could play in the third round.

The Olympic tennis tournament will get underway on Saturday.

Fed Cup

Great Britain To Play Billie Jean King Cup Finals After Glasgow Picked As Host Nation

The UK will stage the finale of the women’s biggest team tennis event for the first time in over 30 years.

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The International Tennis Federation has selected Glasgow as the host nation of this year’s Billie Jean King Cup Finals following a successful bid from the British LTA.

 

A total of 12 nations will participate in the six-day event which will be held between November 8-13 at the Emirates Arena. A facility originally built for the 2014 Commonwealth Games that has since staged various events, including Davis Cup ties. It has a seating capacity of roughly just over 8000 people. This year’s finals will be held on indoor hardcourts.

It is only the fourth time Britain has staged the finals of the tournament which was previously known as the Fed Cup. It was previously held in London 1963, Eastbourne 1977 and Nottingham 1991.

“We are delighted to be bringing the 2022 Billie Jean King Cup by BNP Paribas Finals to Glasgow. The LTA presented a very impressive bid as part of a competitive hosting process. They have successfully hosted Davis Cup ties in Glasgow, and we look forward to having the women’s World Cup of Tennis take place in front of passionate tennis fans from around the world in an electric atmosphere, at the culmination of the women’s tennis season.” ITF President David Haggerty said in a statement.

Great Britain automatically qualifies for the final as they are the hosts. They will be joined by Australia, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Italy, Kazakhstan, Poland, Spain, Slovakia, Switzerland and USA. The format of the round-robin event will see the teams split into four groups of three. The will of each group will then progress to the knockout stages.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to build the profile of women’s tennis and focus attention on women’s sport. The entire team are very excited about playing in front of a home crowd and hearing some loud support across the whole week.” British captain Anne Keothavong commented.

The Russian Tennis Federation won the tournament last year but they will not be allowed to participate this year. Russian and Belarussian teams have been suspended from taking part in ITF team events as the result of the Ukraine war. Russia launched a ‘special military’ operation on February 24th and Belarus is suspected of supporting them.

The draw for the Billie Jean King Cup finals will take place at a later date.

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Davis Cup

(Exclusive) Albert Costa: “Davis Cup Finals Are Going To Remain The Best Of Three Sets”

Last week at the Barcelona Open during one of the many suspensions due to the rainy weather UbiTennis had a chat with 2002 French Open champion Albert Costa in the elegant clubhouse of the Real Club de Tennis de Barcelona.

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By Federico Bertelli, translated by Kingsley Elliot Kaye

Born in Lleida, Albert Costa grew up as a tennis player at the  Real Club de Tennis de Barcelona and also won the tournament in 1997. When he retired from tennis he became the director of the tournament until three years ago when he handed it over to David Ferrer. One of the best stands on the centre court takes his name. Until the 1980s the tennis stadium was the Spanish team’s Davis Cup home.

 

Now, after stepping down from his role at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell, Albert Costa has become tournament director of the Davis Cup which is now advertised as “The World Cup of Tennis.” 

UBITENNIS: Players have asked to be able conclude their season before playing the Davis Cup. As a result, the group ties which will determine the eight quarter finalists have been moved to September and the final knockout stage will unfold over five days. What can you tell us about this? Is it going to be a definitive format?

Albert Costa: It hasn’t been confirmed yet but likely it will be six days starting on Tuesday until Sunday. It is not yet agreed with ITF but, as organisers of the event, our intention is to play from Tuesday to Sunday at the end of November. As far as the future is concerned, we are trying to find the best solution. We are aware that the first years will require some fine tuning but I believe that in the next one or two years we’re going to reach a consolidated format, which will enable us to work comfortably and to give certainty to our stakeholders. 

UBITENNIS: In 2022 and 2023 the Davis Cup will be played in Malaga. Can you tell us anything more about the selection process, considering that last year they were speaking about Abu Dhabi and then at the beginning of 2022 a neutral location was being considered?

Albert Costa: Actually we were in negotiations with Abu Dhabi, there was a concrete proposal. Then Malaga came up with a very attractive proposal and at that point we considered other factors which led us to choose the latter: tennis tradition and culture are at a different level in Spain and this was an aspect that drove Kosmos to choose Malaga. Other considerations are involved as well: an easier destination to reach for tennis fans. Europe is the centre of tennis in terms of countries and players, the ATP finals are played indoors in Turin. This last aspect is particularly relevant: in fact it is very simple to move to Malaga just a few days later and the environment is similar. Besides, Malaga is a city which is growing very fast and sees Davis Cup as an opportunity to gain visibility and to pair with its tourism.

UBITENNIS: The first edition of Davis Cup with the new format was played at the Caja Magica in Madrid, where the Mutua Madrid Open usually takes place. One of the advantages of the facilities is the possibility to use the three indoor courts simultaneously. Has the idea of playing simultaneous matches been put aside? Playing more than one match at the same time could allow them to go back to the 5-set format like in the old Davis Cup. 

Albert Costa: I know very well the format of the former Davis Cup, but we have ruled out going back to five set matches. We haven’t taken into consideration the option of playing simultaneously.

UBITENNIS: But with the current three match format, the double counts very much, much more than before; amazing runs like those of Djokovic or Murray, who a few years ago carried their teams on their shoulders and led them to victory, now would no longer be possible.

Albert Costa: It’s true. With the new format, having a great number one isn’t enough. You need a balanced team with a good doubles. But in this way the format makes competition tighter and more open and potentially there is a great number of teams that can win the trophy. This makes it all more exciting. For instance Serbia, in spite of having Djokovic, who has dominated tennis over the last years, hasn’t yet succeeded in winning the Davis Cup with the new format.

UBITENNIS: Summing up, the 3-match format, two singles and one doubles, isn’t going to change.

Albert Costa: Yes, I confirm this is the direction we are taking: 3 matches in one day.

UBITENNIS: Speaking about the calendar, which are your expectations in terms of public, now that tennis fans have got two months to make arrangements for going to watch their team? Last year it was very complicated since the teams qualified for the quarter finals were known only one week before they actually played.

Albert Costa: Now it’s much easier. We are going to work with travel agencies in order to set up interesting packages. We are also going to work with the national federations in this direction. We are aware that environment and support are the distinguishing traits that make Davis Cup so special. Our target for 2022 is to have at least 1000 supporters for each team cheering their players from the stands. The environment is definitely one of the key factors to success. This means that we want at least 8000 supporters coming from the different countries for the final eight. If Spain were to reach this stage, the number would be even higher. Then we have to add the neutral public that simply comes in to enjoy tennis. Our idea is to create an experience which combines Davis Cup with the possibility to have a trip to the Mediterranean and enjoy the city.

UBITENNIS: The old format was no longer viable. For many players winning Davis Cup once in their career was enough, whereas Majors are never enough. How do you think you can succeed in attracting the best players to always play Davis Cup?

Albert Costa: when I used to play from 1995 to 2005, I remember that the players were already asking to change the format. It was impossible to dedicate four weeks to the Davis Cup, which often involved moving to different surfaces from the Tour schedule. With the new format the workload is different. The players of a team that reaches the final stage have to invest three weeks. In terms of surfaces and event preparation it’s all much simpler: the final stage of Davis Cup is played indoors, just like the rest of the indoor season. As the matches are played best of three sets the players are much less impacted in terms of physical engagement, which is an excellent thing considering the increasing amount of injuries we’ve seen recently. It’s true that in the past many players were content with contributing to winning one Davis Cup only. We aim at providing a comfortable scheduling so that players will be eager to participate every year.

UBITENNIS: Wouldn’t the event be made more legendary if at least in the final the matches were played best of five sets?

Albert Costa: I understand the historical point of view, but also the finals of the ATP Masters 1000 and of the ATP Finals were played best of five sets and now things have changed. Especially with the stress, both physical and mental, which modern tennis brings in. Players are already pushing their limits. It’s already three matches, which means at least six hours of competition. It’s enough both for the public and for the players. I believe that the value of a Davis Cup victory cannot be measured on the basis of the physical toll paid by players. It’s the overall value of the team that ought to be rewarded, which is also the reason why it is fair that the most well-balanced teams, with a strong number 1, a good number 2 and a good doubles, are the most likely to win.

UBITENNIS: Under a communication profile the claim that has been delivered since 2019 is that it’s a World Cup of Tennis. This theme has already been broadly discussed, but I’d still like to hear your opinion as a former player.

Albert Costa: Before the format we used to play with, home and away ties, Davis Cup was like America’s Cup, where the winner of the previous edition waited for the challenger selection series. Changes are in the order of things. I believe that going towards a World Cup type of format, with a group stage and a knockout stage is an excellent solution.   

UBITENNIS: A last question: until 2023 everything is scheduled, in terms of format and location. For 2024 could there be an agreement with ATP Cup?

Albert Costa: We are working at it. Having Davis Cup at the end of November and ATP Cup at the beginning of January doesn’t make much sense. Kosmos and the other parties involved have to get into talks. We’re trying. Let’s see what comes out of it.

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Davis Cup

REPORT: Valencia To Host Group Stage Of Davis Cup Finals As Part Of Five-Year Deal

It is understood that negotiations are at an advanced stage and an announcement could be made very soon.

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The Spanish city of Valencia has been chosen as the fourth and final host of the group stages of the Davis Cup Finals, according to two separate media sources.

 

Regional newspaper Las Provincias has reported that negotiations have been ongoing between officials in the region and Kosmos, the investment company who oversees the running of the tournament. It has been reported that talks between the two are at an ‘advance’ stage with it only being a matter of time before a deal is finalized.

An announcement is expected to be made as early as this week that Valencia has signed a five-year deal to host the Davis Cup. However, the venue of where the event will be hosted is still to be confirmed. One of the options is the bullring known as the Plaza de Toros de Valencia which has staged numerous Davis Cup ties in the past. However, another venue may seem more suitable considering the time of year and the fact four teams are taking part.

Valencia’s rumoured appointment fills in the gap left by Malaga who have been named host of the knockout finals in November after initially being awarded the chance to hold one of the four group stages along with Glasglow, Bologna and Hamburg. Malaga will also host the finale in 2023 as well. Making it the fourth time in a row the finale of the event has been held in Spain.

News outlet LevanteEMV has also confirmed Valencia’s intention to host the team event and say officials have already expressed a desire to one day host the knock-out stages in November. Although there is no guarantee that will happen.

The development comes shortly after France pulled out of the bidding process due to what they described as ‘onerous’ financial and operational conditions which none of their potential organizers was willing to accept. France was initially excluded from the hosting process and filed a case to the Court of Arbitration in March for Sport (CAS) saying the decision was unfair. However, a month later they were allowed to take part. It is unclear as to why they were initially excluded.

Davis Cup officials are yet to publicly comment on Valencia’s appointment but it is expected that they will do so very soon. In their latest communication, organizers said they plan to announce the fourth host of the group stages, which is said to be Valencia, before the draw takes place on April 26th.

The group stages of the 2022 Davis Cup Finals will take place from 14-18 September. Each group will consist of four teams with ties being a best-of-three rubbers taking place on the same day. The top two teams from each group will then progress to the knockout stages which will take place between November 23-27.

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