Russia and Canada booked their spots in the semi-finals of the ATP Cup on Thursday.
Russia completed their group stage campaign with a 2-1 victory over Italy in Group B.
The match was a winners take all clash with the Italians making the perfect start as Jannik Sinner defeated Roman Safiullin 7-6(8) 6-3.
However world number two Daniil Medvedev levelled the tie in a hard-fought victory over Wimbledon finalist Matteo Berrettini.
Medvedev needed 2 hours and 40 minutes to edge out Berrettini 6-2 6-7(5) 6-4 to put Russia level with Italy.
Then all four singles players returned for the doubles which the Russians won 5-7 6-4 10-5 in a tense contest.
This saw Russia book a place in the last four and after the match Medvedev spoke about the importance of his win over Berrettini, “The first set I was in control and it’s tricky because you think that things will continue to go your way but that’s not the case when you’re up against a Top 10 player,” Medvedev told the ATP Cup website.
“I made some bad decisions in the second set so I tried to learn from that in the third. I served well throughout the match and that helped me.”
Russia will now face Canada in the last four on Saturday after Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime both secured singles wins over Germany.
Shapovalov edged out Struff in three sets to give Canada the lead and then Felix Auger-Aliassime scored a huge victory over Olympic champion Alexander Zverev 6-4 4-6 6-3.
This meant that Canada denied Great Britain a place in the semis after the Brits beat USA 2-1 earlier in the day. The other result saw Australia beat France 2-1.
Russia and Canada will meet in Sydney on Saturday while tomorrow Poland will face Spain.
Canada gets first win at ATP Cup after comeback victory over Great Britain
Felix Auger-Aliassime inspired Canada to victory against Great Britain at the ATP Cup.
Team Canada got its first win of the tournament when they beat Team Great Britain 2-1 and it all came down to the doubles match.
Evans eases by Shapovalov
Dan Evans got the first point of the tie as he had no issues getting by Denis Shapovalov beating him in straight sets 6-4, 6-4 in one hour and 23 minutes serving four aces and winning 88% of his first-serve points.
The first six games of the opening set stayed on serve and it was the Brit who earned the first breakpoint of the match and broke the Canadian and that one break of serve proved crucial as he took the first set,
Evans carried the momentum into the second set and it looked like the Canadian was still easing his way into his game and he broke him early in the set to take an early 2-1 lead.
Again that one break of serve was all the Brit needed to serve out the set and the match and give the first point to Team Great Britan.
Auger Aliassime responds for Canada
Felix Auger Aliassime responded for Canada beating Cameron Norrie in straight sets 7-6 (4), 6-3 in two hours serving eight aces, and winning 85% of his points on his first serve.
The first set was a battle as these two players know each other well and the last time they met was a three-set marathon match in Vienna with the Canadian getting the win.
The Montreal native got the first chance to break at 4-3 and took it for a 5-3 lead and a chance to serve out the first set. When serving for it the Canadian got tight and Norrie made him pay by breaking him right back.
The first set was decided by a tiebreaker and the world number 11 won the first six points of the breaker and took the first set.
Winning the first set gave the Canadian the momentum he needed and he broke the Britt early in the second set in the second game and that one break of serve was enough for him to serve out the match.
This meant the doubles match was going to decide the winner of the tie.
Canada wins deciding doubles
With the tie level at 1-1, the winner was decided by the third and final doubles match and it was Auger Aliassime and Shapovalov beating the British duo of Jamie Murray and Joe Salsbury.
A 6-4, 6-1 win in one hour and 10 minutes with the Canadians serving seven aces and winning 83% of their points off the first served ensured that all teams in the group now have a record of 1-1.
Davis Cup Champions Russia Banned From Hosting Ties In 2022
The newly crowned champions will not be allowed the opportunity to potentially play some of their matches next year at home due to a ruling by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
The bidding process for host cities of the 2022 Davis Cup Finals will get underway in the coming weeks but Russia will not be allowed to take part.
Last week Daniil Medvedev led his country to victory over Croatia in the final to give Russia, who were playing under the name of the Russian Tennis Federation (RTF), only their third title in the prestigious team event which was founded back in 1900. In this year’s finals, they also beat Germany, Sweden, Ecuador and Spain en route to the title.
Next year’s tournament is once again set to be a first in the Davis Cup history after organisers confirmed that the finals will be staged across a total of five cities. During a recent press conference, the International Tennis Federation and investment company Kosmos say they plan to stage each of the four groups in separate cities and a fifth city hosting the knockout stages. The name of those hosts has not been announced but it is widely speculated that the Middle East may hold the knockout stages. The number of teams in the finals will be cut from 18 to 16.
However, Russia will not be allowed to stage a tie in 2022 but will be free to do so from the following year. This is because the country is currently banned from international competition for doping violations. An extensive investigation discovered multiple incidents of illegal doping practices by Russian officials at various Olympic Games but tennis have never been implicated in the scandal. As a result the World Anti-Doping Agency, which the International Tennis Federation is a member of, handed Russia a ban. This is why Medvedev and his team played under their federation name and not their country.
The ITF has confirmed to UbiTennis that the ban is in force until December 16th 2022 which is after the 2022 Finals.
“The ban remains in place for two years and that includes Russia hosting any WADA listed world competitions or world cup tournaments/competition events, and when competing outside of Russia the use of their national name, insignia, emblems and anthem are banned throughout this same period,” an ITF spokesperson told UbiTennis.
Kosmos, who are the main financial driving force behind the Davis Cup, had previously said they hope to select cities on a contract basis lasting ‘three to five years.’ However, they also want to maintain that every host city belongs to a country playing in the Finals which complicates matters somewhat. It is possible that Italy could be selected as a host for a three-year period but if they fail to qualify in one of those years, they may lose their hosting rights.
“It can happen that you have an agreement with a city or country, then the home team is not classified (qualified). That’s why we need to have multi-agreements, plus backup options, for fixing the possibility of not being classified,” Kosmos president Enrique Rojas recently told reporters.
The process for selecting the host cities will begin in January with interested candidates having six weeks to present their proposals. A final decision is then expected to be made round mid-Match.
Davis Cup Chiefs Presses Ahead With Five-City Plan But Admits Not Everybody Will Be Happy
Unanswered questions remain over the staging of next year’s historic team event but both Kosmos and the ITF are confident about their plans.
The Organizers of the Davis Cup say that they can’t avoid negative ‘noise’ about them after revealing their plans for the 2022 edition of the tournament.
Next year will see the finals of the competition staged across five cities over a 11-day period. The number of teams participating will be cut from 18 to 16 and then split into four groups. Each group will play in a designated city which will be held in a country of one of the qualified teams. Those who progress to the knockout stages will then have to fly to a ‘neutral’ location for the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final.
There remain a lot of unanswered questions about the latest format change with the host cities yet to be revealed. Something which confused many journalists on Sunday after they originally received an invitation titled ‘next destination’ which indicated that the name of the host countries would be revealed. It is widely speculated that Abu Dhabi will be one of the main cities selected for 2022 and is strongly favoured to host the knockout stages. A somewhat controversial decision to move the event to an area which doesn’t have a rich Davis Cup history.
Refusing to name any countries, the president of the International Tennis Federation, David Haggerty, told reporters that he is ‘unaware’ of any opposition to where the tournament could be held. Even though Australian Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt last week accused officials of ‘selling the soul’ of the competition amid reports it could be heading to the UAE.
“I can tell you that we are in final negotiations. We haven’t signed so we didn’t think it was proper to make an announcement. There is no opposition that we’re aware of. We’re very pleased with the preferred city that we’re in final stages with,” Said Haggerty.
Enric Rojas is the president of Investment firm Kosmos who are in charge of overseeing the Davis Cup after signing a 25-year deal worth millions back in 2018. He confirmed that discussions have taken place with various stakeholders about the competition but it is unclear as to how much say they have had in the decision making process. Whilst the 2021 finals has been praised by some, Rojas acknowledges that he is unable to please everybody.
“We cannot avoid some noise around everything we do. We have faced that since 2018 and in 2019, now in 2021, especially coming from a few countries,” he said.
“I have the feeling after speaking to many players, captains and federations that the noise that we are hearing is because of Abu Dhabi or because of other things, that noise will always happen irrespective of whatever you do.’
“There will be some flexibility in the process, but we are looking for having agreements with the host cities and the countries in between three and five years.”
There is still more clarity needed on the staging of the competition. One of which being what happens if a country who has agreed to host the group stages of the event over a fixed period doesn’t qualify one year. Will they continue to host the competition or do they lose out to another country? One option to avoid this could be the use of wildcards but organisers normally change countries each year.
As for the players, all concede that having an event such as the Davis Cup at the end of a long season is a massive challenge. Marin Cilic played in the title match on Sunday where Croatia lost 2-0 to the Russian Tennis Federation.
“It definitely is different,” Cilic commented on the Davis Cup changes in recent years. “But it’s tough to say in the end what is better, what is not. For us the whole system worked. This new system worked amazingly well.”
World No.2 Daniil Medvedev has voiced his backing to the prospect of having the 2022 finals staged across Europe, then moving the knockout stages to the Middle East. However, he admits the timing of the competition is problematic for some of his peers.
“I think the idea itself is very good. Of course, the calendar doesn’t let Davis Cup be in any other week, so that’s where it’s tough. That’s where some top players are not going to play because it’s the end of the season, somebody’s burned out, somebody’s injured, somebody wants to prepare well for Australia, so that’s not easy.” Medvedev told reporters on Sunday.
“It’s going to be tough for any player, especially those who play the Masters (ATP Finals), to be able to cope up with the season.” He added.
According to Kosmos, the four cities which will host the group ties will have to go through a bidding process with the final decision made next March. As for the fifth neutral venue, Abu Dhabi has been described as the ‘preferred option’ but it hasn’t been officially signed off yet. It has been confirmed that the entire 2022 Finals must be staged indoors regardless of the host country in order to minimised players need to adapt to various conditions.
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