Taylor Fritz and Felix Auger Aliassime headline a strong line-up at the Davis Cup Finals - UBITENNIS
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Taylor Fritz and Felix Auger Aliassime headline a strong line-up at the Davis Cup Finals

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The eight best teams will compete in the 2022 Davis Cup by Rakuten Knock-out stage in Malaga from 22 to 27 November. 

Malaga is the new home of the Davis Cup Finals after the previous two editions held in Madrid in 2019 and 2021. The quarter finals start on Tuesday with the match between Australia and the Netherlands. 

Two top ten players Taylor Fritz and Felix Auger Aliassime will headline the strong line-up.

Australia against the Netherlands – 22nd November 

The Netherlands won the Group D last September in Glasgow. Botic Van de Zandschulp led the Dutch team by winning all of his three of his singles matches, including straight set victories against Cameron Norrie, Alexander Bublik and Taylor Fritz. Van de Zandschulp beat Diego Schwartzman in five sets at the US Open in 2021 to reach his first quarter final at Grand Slam level. He then lost to eventual US Open champion Danil Medvedev. He was the only player to take a set off Medvedev during the tournament. This year Van de Zandschulp reached the first ATP 500 semifinal of his career at Queen’s Club in London and advanced to the fourth round at Wimbledon. The Dutch team also features Wesley Koolhof, who is part of the world number 1 doubles team alongside Neal Skupski. The Netherlands is one of the two teams at this year’s Finals, along with Canada, that has never won a Davis Cup title. 

The Dutch team will face Group B runners-up Australia in the Group B. The Australian team led by Lleyton Hewitt beat Belgium and France during the Group stage, but lost to Germany in Hamburg last September. Everyone in the five-man Aussie team with at least one win. De Minaur scored two singles wins against Frenchman Benjamin Bonzi and Belgian David Goffin and has won eight of his last nine singles Davis Cup matches. Australia is chasing its first Davis Cup title since 2003. 

The Australian doubles team will be formed by Max Purcell and Matthew Ebden, who won the Wimbledon title and reached the Australian Open final.

Croatia vs Spain 23rd November

This year’s US Open champion Carlos Alcaraz and 22-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal will not play, but the Spanish team captained by Serg Bruguera will feature 2019 Davis Cup champion Roberto Bautista Agut, Pablo Carreno Busta, Albert Ramos Vinolas, Pedro Martinez and Marcel Granollers. Alcaraz has been forced to withdraw from the match due to an injury. 

Bautista Agut was the only player to win three points for the Spanish team in Group B in Valencia against South Korea’s Seong Chen Hong, Serbia’s Miomir Kecmanovic and Canada’s Vasek Pospisil last September. 

Spain will take on Croatia in a blockbuster quarter final match. Croatia, the highest ranked nation in Davis Cup and last year’s Davis Cup finalists, beat Argentina (3-0) and Sweden (2-1) in Group A in Bologna last September. This year’s Cincinnati Masters 1000 champion Borna Coric scored two singles wins against Mikael Ymer and Francisco Cerundolo.

Croatia will feature 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic, Borna Coric, Borna Gojo and the doubles team formed by Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic, who reached the championships match at last week’s Nitto ATP Finals in Turin. Cilic won the Davis Cup title in 2018.

Spain has won all three previous ties against Croatia. 

The winner of the match between Australia and the Netherlands will take on either Croatia or Spain in the semifinal. 

Italy vs USA 24th November

The Italian team captained by Filippo Volandri won Group A in Bologna and will be one of the teams to beat in the Knock-out stage in Malaga despite the absence of 2021 Wimbledon finalist Matteo Berrettini and four-time Grand Slam quarter finalist Jannik Sinner. The hopes of the Italian team are carried by Lorenzo Musetti, Lorenzo Sonego and the experienced doubles team formed by Fabio Fognini and Simone Bolelli, who have each played 28 Davis Cup matches. Musetti enjoyed his breakthrough season in 2022 winning two titles in Hamburg and Neaples and reaching his first Masters 1000 quarter final in Paris Bercy after beating Casper Ruud in the third round.

The US team finished second in group stage after wins over Great Britain and Kazakhstan and a defeat against the Netherlands. Rajeev Ram and Jack Sock scored two doubles wins against Great Britain and the Netherlands. The US team captained by Mardy Fish features Taylor Fritz, Frances Tiafoe, Tommy Paul and doubles specialist Jack Sock.  Fritz won his first Masters 1000 title in Indian Wells and Tokyo beating Tiafoe in the final and reached the semifinals at last week’s ATP Tour Finals in Turin. Tiafoe reached the semifinals at the US Open. Paul beat Rafael Nadal to advance to the quarter final at the Paris Bercy Masters 1000.

Germany vs Canada 24th November

Germany won Group C in Hamburg after winning all three ties in Hamburg against France, Australia and Belgium. Jan  Lennard Struff won all of his three singles matches. Kevin Krawietz and Tim Puetz scored four wins together at the 2021 Davis Cup finals and won all three of their decisive matches at the Group Stage last September. 

Canada beat Spain 2-1 in a decisive Group stage tie with wins scored by Felix Auger Aliassime over Carlos Alcaraz (6-7 6-4 6-4) and the doubles team formed by Auger Aliassime and Vasek Pospisil over Marcel Granollers and Pedro Martinez (4-6 6-4 7-5). 

Canada will feature both Auger Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov for the first time since the 2019 Davis Cup final, when the team led by Frank Dancevic finished runner-up to a strong Spanish team led by Rafael Nadal and Roberto Bautista Agut. 

Auger Aliassime won four ATP titles this year in Rotterdam, Florence, Antwerp and Basel. Shapovalov finished runner-up to Danil Medvedev in the Vienna ATP 500 final.

The winner of the match between Italy and the USA will clash against either Germany or Canada in the second semifinal.  

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Hubert Hurkacz Undergoes ‘Knee Procedure’ Ahead of Olympic Bid

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Poland’s top player on the ATP Tour is not giving up on his dream of winning a medal at the Olympic Games despite recently undergoing a medical procedure.

World No.7 Hubert Hurkacz suffered a knee injury during his second round clash at Wimbledon against France’s Arthur Fils. In the fourth set tiebreak of their clash, Hurkacz dived for a shot but landed badly on his knee and required on-court medical attention. He then played two more points before retiring from the match. 

In a social media post published on Wednesday, the  27-year-old confirmed he underwent a procedure on his knee earlier this week but didn’t provide any further details.  Although Hurkacz has stated his intention to play at the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris, where the tennis event will be held on the clay at Roland Garros. 

“I had a knee procedure this Monday, but I’m feeling better already and my team and are dedicating extensive time each day to the rehab process.” He wrote on Instagram. 

“It’s a dream for every athlete to represent their country at the Olympics, and I want to make sure I am fully fit and ready before making the final decision to step on court. The aim is not only to participate, but to win a medal for my country.”

So far this season Hurkacz has won 34 out of 48 matches played on the Tour. He won the Estoril Open in April and was runner-up to Jannik Sinner in Halle. 

The Olympic tennis event is scheduled to begin a week Saturday on July 27th. Poland is yet to win a medal in the event but expectations are high with women’s No.1 Iga Swiatek also taking part. 

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Krejcikova Comes Alive With Her Serve To Win 12th Grand Slam Title At Wimbledon

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image via x.com/wimbledon

It must have seemed like the whole world was against her when Barbora Krejcikova served for the match for a third time against crowd favorite Jasmine Paolini.

But Krejcikova was only going for her 12th Grand Slam title. She was well prepared.

So, she released her patented way-out-wide serve to the smallish Paolini’s backhand, and the best the Italian could do was get her racket on the ball enough to return the serve far off the court, long and wide.

ARMS UP FOR A CHAMPION

The weight of the world was gone as Krejcikova threw her arms over her head and calmly walked to the net to greet the Wimbledon runner-up.

Now, Krejcikova was half-way home to a career Grand Slam in singles. She already owns a career Grand Slam in doubles among her dozen Grand Slam titles that also include one mixed doubles Grand Slam title.

She has won the hard ones, the French Open on clay and Wimbledon on grass.

At 28 years old, anything must look possible to this 5-10 Czech.

KREJCIKOVA COMES THROUGH UNDER PRESSURE

Paolini simply was out played in a second straight Grand Slam final, on clay and on grass. Now she faces the real tests, two straight Grand Slam tournaments on hard surfaces that might not be overly friendly to the 5-4 Paolini.

But there it was, a 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 victory for Krejcikova on Wimbledon’s famed Center Court.

After what might be called a throw-away second set for Krejcikova, she came alive in the third set, pinning Paolini to the deep corners while nailing low hard-hit balls to both corners.

Krejcikova got off to 40-0 starts on her first four service games of the decisive set and ended all four with service winners to take a 5-3 lead (with the aid of the only service break of the third set). She yielded only one point in those four service games, a double fault at 40-0 that was followed by an ace.

Of course, it was the serve again that saved the day for Krejcikova and gave her set points two and three, then sealed the deal for a spot in Wimbledon history.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

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Jasmine Paolini’s Wimbledon Run Hailed By Italian Prime Minister

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Image via x.com/twitter

The Prime Minister of Italy has praised Jasmine Paolini for lighting up the hearts of others during her Wimbledon run. 

Paolini missed out on her first Grand Slam title to Barbora Krejcikova, who prevailed in three sets to capture her second major trophy. Despite her defeat, she has made history at the tournament by becoming the first female player from her country to reach the final. Until this year, she had never won a Tour-level main draw match on the grass. 

Whilst disappointed about missing out on the biggest title of her career, Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni posted a tribute to Paolini on social media just moments after the final had concluded.

“Proud of Jasmine Paolini,” The Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata (ANSA) quotes Meloni as saying. 

“The first Italian tennis player to reach the final of the prestigious Wimbledon tournament. 

“Despite the defeat, you lit up the hearts of the Italian people, succeeding in conveying grit and passion to all of us who supported you”. 

Paolini is the first player ranked outside the top five to reach the final of both Wimbledon and the French Open within the same year since the ranking system was introduced in 1975. She is also only the fourth female player in the Open Era to have reached her first two Grand Slam finals in the same year at Roland Garros and Wimbledon after Chris Evert (1973), Olga Morozova (1974) and Steffi Graf (1987). 

Should she win three or more matches at the US Open later this year, she will also set a new Open Era record for the most Grand Slam wins achieved by an Italian female player in a single season. 

“The last two months have been crazy for me. I want to thank my team, and my family. They always support me and I wouldn’t be here without them. The crowd have been amazing. I received a lot of support. Just incredible to feel the love from them, I enjoy it so much.” Paolini said following her Wimbledon defeat. 

The 28-year-old will rise to a ranking high of No.3 on Monday. 

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