ITF Chief Eyes Turning Billie Jean King Cup Finals Into Multi-City Event - UBITENNIS
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ITF Chief Eyes Turning Billie Jean King Cup Finals Into Multi-City Event

David Haggerty is hoping the inaugural competition will spark an interest from potential host countries in the future.

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The first edition of the Billie Jean Cup Finals is set to get underway in Prague but organisers are already thinking about what could be in store for the future.

Known previously as the Federation Cup, the women’s finale has been transformed into a weeklong event featuring a total of 12 countries. Moving away from its tradition of a two-team final with home and away ties. The revamp occurs just a couple years after a similar change was made to the Davis Cup, which was approved after receiving enough support from a vote that took place at an ITF AGM meeting.

However, preparations for the inaugural Billie Jean King Cup Finals have been far from smooth. The event was initially due to be staged in April 2020 but was suspended because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Then this year the Hungarian Tennis Association announced they no longer wish to host the event. Paving way for Prague to step in as a late replacement.

David Haggerty is the president of the International Tennis Federation who has overseen the recent changes made to the two historic team events. Speaking to City AM, the American official indicated that the decision to move the finals from April to November will be a permanent plan for the future.

“I think most of the stakeholders believe that the end of the season makes sense,” said Haggerty.
“We’ve had conversations with the WTA about this as well and that’s where we’ve slotted in and that’s where we’ll be looking for for 2022 and beyond, in November for sure.”

It has been a case that the women’s event has been based on their male equivalent. This year’s Davis Cup finals will be taking place in three different cities for the first time. Turin, Innsbruck and Madrid will be staging matches with Madrid being the location for all semi-final and final ties. Haggerty says the ITF intends to continue the multi-city approach because it ‘ticked all the boxes’ and hopes it can be applied to the women’s competition.

It’s something that could happen, that preliminarily we are looking at,” he commented.

Taking place a week before the WTA Finals in Mexico, the Billie Jean King Cup will be missing top names such as Garbine Muguruza and Paula Badosa who both recently pulled out of the event. Barbora Krejčíková and Belinda Bencic are the only top 10 players taking part.

Nevertheless, Haggerty is counting on the event being a success in hope that it will help him secure host countries in the future. It is currently unknown as to where the 2022 edition will be held.

“One of the things we felt was important was to showcase what it could be, because this will be the inaugural year that we move to this format,” he says.
“We want to be able to show that to all the nations and then have discussions about where the next editions will be.”

Some don’t like change

As the ITF hails a new milestone in the competition, some of those taking part have their reservations. French Open champion Krejčíková has openly said she preferred the old format. Her country, the Czech Republic, has won the women’s team title 11 times which is the second highest in history after America who has won it 18 times.

I definitely preferred the old system with only two teams facing each other,” Krejcikova told reporters on Saturday.

French coach Julien Benneteau has echoed similar comments during a recent interview with Ouest-France. The former world No.25 will be hoping to guide his county to winning the title for a second time in a row. His team includes Alize Cornet, Caroline Garcia, Clara Burel and Fiona Ferro.

“We preferred the format before, now there is no point in elaborating,” Benneteau said.
“The situation is what it is.
“We have to adapt.
“I think there are things to adapt in the preparation to be ready in this new configuration.”

The Billie Jean King Cup finals have been split into four groups of three teams. After four days of round-robin matches, the winner of each group will then progress to the semi-finals.

List of Billie Jean King Cup Groups

  • A = France, Russia and Canada
  • B = Australia, Belarus and Belgium
  • C = United States, Spain and Slovakia
  • D = Czech Republic, Germany and Switzerland

Fed Cup

Italian Captain Tathiana Garbin Reveals Rare Tumor Diagnoses After Team’s Loss At BJK Finals

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Former top 30 player and captain of the Italian Billie Jean King Cup team Tathiana Garbin has publically announced that she is battling a serious health issue. 

Just hours after her team lost to Canada in the Billie Jean King Cup final in Seville on Sunday, the 46-year-old issued a statement confirming that she is undergoing treatment for a rare tumor that has been found in her stomach. Garbin had her first surgery in October but will have to undergo further procedures in the coming weeks. 

“I really wish to thank my Federation, which has constantly supported me with extraordinary solidarity and sensitivity,” Gabin said in a statement sent to the news agency Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata (ANSA). 
“Seville was a very important event for me, and I absolutely didn’t want to miss it despite being very close to my operation: the Federation has shown they placed full trust in me. There is nothing that makes me prouder than representing the colors of Italy. “

Gabin says she hopes to raise awareness of medical research and prevention by going public about her condition, as well as hoping to inspire others with her story. She is being treated by Professor Di Candio and Professor Morelli at the Cisanello Hospital in Pisa. 

“I thank my BJ King Cup girls, who have shown me incredible love and support. Their presence and support have been a beacon of positivity in these difficult days,” she said in tribute to her team.
“However, I would like to inform you that I will have to undergo a second surgery, required by the treatment planned by the doctors. Thanks to the rapid recovery I have experienced, I am optimistic about being back on court.”

As a player, Garbin peaked at a ranking high of No.22 in singles and No.25 in doubles. Her sole singles title on the WTA Tour occurred in 2000 when she won the Budapest Open in Hungary. Seven years after that, she reached the fourth round of the French Open in what was her best-ever run at a major event. 

Garbin has served as Italy’s Billie Jean King Cup captain since 2016. 

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Fed Cup

Doubles Delight: Great Britain Ousts France 2-1 In Davis Cup Classic

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Image via https://twitter.com/the_LTA/

Great Britain has won the last spot in the Davis Cup finals by prevailing in a highly dramatic clash against France in front of a record crowd in Manchester.

With the must-win showdown level at 1-1, the tie was decided by a rollercoaster doubles match with Dan Evans and Neil Skupski battling their way past Nicolas Mahut and Édouard Roger-Vasselin 1-6, 7-6(4), 7-6(6). In what was one of the most tense matches ever involving the British team, four match points were saved by the hosts. Evans fended off three whilst serving 4-5 down in the decider before Skupski saved one when he was serving two games later. To add to the drama, in the decisive tiebreaker Britain lost a mini-break advantage twice before prevailing on their second match point. 

“I don’t know how we’ve won that fight, sheer fight. Incredible effort from Dan to come out and win this match with me,” said Skupski.
“The first set wasn’t too good. We regrouped, took a toilet [break] and fought as hard as we could. Dan saving three points in the third set. The rest is history and we’re off to Malaga.” 

The triumph caps off what has been a marathon day at The AO Arena with all three matches going the full distance. A total of more than 13,000 seats was sold for the tie which is a record for a single day of Davis Cup action in the UK. 

Earlier in the day, Evans got Britain off to a perfect start by fighting back from a set and a break down to beat Arthur Fils 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, in what was a close fight. At the end of the encounter, there was a tense exchange between the two which continued during the doubles match with Evans seen making gestures towards the Frenchman who was watching from the stands. 

France’s sole victor was Ugo Humbert who beat former Wimbledon semi-finalist Cameron Norrie 7-6(5),3-6, 7-5. A new confidence blow to the British No.1 who has only won back-to-back matches in one out of his past five tournaments. 

“The team is amazing. We get on very well. Everyone’s played a part. It’s all those guys and girls standing there (in the stands) who are amazing.” Captain Leon Smith commented. 

Britain joins Australia in qualifying from Group B to November’s finals which will be held in Malaga. The team has won all three of their ties played in Manchester with their previous wins being over Australia and Switzerland earlier in the week. 

In total, eight teams have secured their place in the finals. Group stages have also been held in Spain, Croatia and Italy with the top two nations from each of those events progressing. 

Britain is seeking to win the Davis Cup title for only the second time in the Open Era after 2015. 

List of teams through to the knockout stages in Malaga

  • Great Britain
  • Australia
  • Finland
  • Italy
  • Canada
  • Serbia
  • Czech Republic
  • Netherlands

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Fed Cup

Australia Ousts Great Britain In Thriller To Reach BJK Cup Final

The host nation narrowly missed out on a place in the final but they have plenty of positives to motivate them for the future.

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The British Billie Jean King Cup team (image via LTA Twitter)

Australia has denied Great Britain an opportunity to play in their first team final since 1981 after prevailing 2-1 in an epic tussle at the Billie Jean King Cup in Glasgow. 

The gripping tie was level at 1-1 after each team won one of the singles matches, paving the way for a winner-takes-all doubles encounter. The British team featured Alicia Barnett and Olivia Nicholls who were both making their debut in the competition this week. Their opponents were former Grand Slam winner Sam Stosur and world No.10 doubles player Storm Sanders.

Despite the gap in experience between the two pairings, there was almost nothing to distinguish between the two throughout the majority of their encounter which lasted more than two hours. Nevertheless, the Australian duo held their nerve to seal a 7-6(1), 6-7(5), 10-6, victory to send them into the final. 

“That was amazing. it could have gone either way and credit to the GB girls they played really well. They will be here again for sure.” Sanders said during her on-court interview. 

It is only the second time in the past 30 years that Australia has progressed to the final after 2019. Before playing Great Britain, they also defeated Belgium and Slovakia in the group stages. 

“A real credit to the four players out on court that was pretty inspirational, so I hope it inspires a lot more of you out there to play doubles. It was really such a high level you couldn’t pick it in the end.” Australian captain Alicia Molik commented on the doubles match. 

Earlier in the day, Australia got off to the perfect start with Sanders edging her way past Heather Watson 6-4, 7-6(3). However, the host nation battled back with an impressive performance from Harriet Dart who defeated Ajla Tomljanović 7-6(3), 6-2. A player who has reached the quarter-finals at both Wimbledon and the US Open this year. 

“The Billie Jean King Cup just brings the best out of me. I love playing in front of a home crowd, and I feel like I have really been feeding off my teammates and everyone here. It just makes me really want to do really well.” Said Dart. 

The performances from the underdogs provide Britain with plenty of hope for the future. The nation lost in qualifying earlier this year but managed to enter the finals via wildcard due to the competition being held in their country. 

“I’m just gutted for everyone right now but also I think we have to try and keep things in perspective,” British captain Keothavong told reporters. 
“What a fantastic week it has been for the team. I don’t know how many people gave us much of a chance really to even come through the group stages.’
“It really is a fantastic achievement to reach the semifinals but we felt we could have gone further. That’s why it hurts so much.
“It’s going to hurt the players for a while but they’ll (the team) get over it. They can still hold their heads high because they have shown what they are capable of under a huge amount of pressure to deliver, and in the end, it came down to a few points.”

Australia will next play either Switzerland or the Czech Republic in the final. They are seeking to win the trophy for the first time since 1974.

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