The expected highlights of the Davis Cup Qualifiers - UBITENNIS
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The expected highlights of the Davis Cup Qualifiers

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We take a look at the most important highlights of this weekend’s Davis Cup qualifiers. The winners of each tie qualify for the Davis Cup Finals next November, while the losers will play in the World Group Play-offs. 

Germany vs Switzerland

Germany will take on 2014 Davis Cup champions Switzerland in Trier in South West Germany in one of the most interesting Davis Cup Qualifying ties. 

World number 80 Oscar Otte will face world number 53 Marc-Andrea Huesler in the first match on Friday. One of the highlights of this year’s Davis Cup Qualifiers will be the blockbusters clashes between three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka and reigning Olympic gold medallist Alexander Zverev in the tie’s second match on Friday. 

Zverev leads 4-0 in his head-to-head matches against Wawrinka. The German player is on come-back trail after his serious injury at the French Open last year. The two-time ATP Finals champion has lost three of his four matches since the injury, but he is confident that his condition is now improving. 

“I am doing wonderfully. That was also the case in Australia. I have spent the last few weeks training hard. Now it’s time to transport that to the match. I hope I will get that better implemented here than in Australia”, said Zverev. 

Wawrinka and Roger Federer were part of a Swiss team, that clinched the Davis Cup title against France in 2014. The Swiss team is aiming to reach the Davis Cup Finals Group Stage for the first time. 

“I always said that I would like to play once again for my country in Davis Cup and that I am available to play if I can bring support to the team. I love playing for Switzerland and we have a great team. We know each other quite well, even though I am the oldest”, said Wawrinka.  

The Swiss hopes are also carried by Marc Andrea Huesler, who won his first ATP Tour title at the Sofia Open, and Dominic Stricker, who reached the semifinals at the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan last November. 

Tim Puetz and Andreas Mies are the favourites in Saturday’s doubles match against Swiss rising stars Dominic Stricker and Leandro Riedi. 

“We are incredibly happy to have Wawrinka back in the team. The young players can profit immensely from Stan and it’s a huge motivation and inspiration for everyone to have hime back”, said Swiss captain Severin Luthi. 

Hungary vs France 

Third seeds France will start as the favourite team on paper against 24th ranked Hungary. The French team features Davis Cup rookie Ugo Humbert, Arthur Rinderknech, Benjamin Bonzi and doubles specialist Nicholas Mahut. Three French players are ranked higher than Hungarian number 1 player Marton Fucsovics. 

World number 78 player Fucsovics will team up with Fabian Marozsan and Zsombor Piros, who are both ranked outside the top 200. However, French captain Sebastian Grosjean does not take anything for granted against Hungary, who lost against Australia in the fifth match in a very tough Davis Cup qualifier last year. 

“We are ready to compete, but we go step by step. We are going to play focused on this tie and then we will see”, said Grosjean. 

Bonzi will play the first match against Piros on Friday. The French player made his Davis Cup debut one year ago and played in the Davis Cup Group Stage, but he lost three matches, when he played for the French team. Piros upset Marin Cilic in the 2021 Davis Cup Finals. 

“It’s an honour to play number one, but it’s going to be a tough match. Piros is playing very good in Davis Cup. It’s going to be tough to finish the points and it’s in Hungary, so all the crowd will be for him, but it’s going to be a good match”, said Bonzi. 

Fucsovics will take on three-time ATP Tour titlist Ugo Humbert in the second singles match. Both players reached the third round at the Australian Open this season. Humbert won their only previous head-to-head match in Stuttgart in 2021. 

Nicholas Mahut and Arhur Rinderknech will face Fabian Marozsan and Mate Valkusz in Saturday’s doubles match. 

Croatia vs Austria

Croatia is the favourite team against Austria in Rijeka. Last year’s Cincinnati Open champion Borna Coric is Croatia’s number 1 in the absence of injured Marin Cilic. 

Coric will play against Austria’s Dennis Novak in the opening singles match on Friday. 

“I have never played against Novak, but I am looking forward to the match. It’s going to be great. I need to look at some of the videos from him because we have practiced together, but it was a very long time ago, so I need to do my homework and hope for the best tomorrow”, said Coric. 

Austrian number 1 player Dominic Thiem will play against Borna Gojo in the second singles match on the opening day. Thiem, who underwent wrist surgery in 2021, is looking to return to his best form that helped him reach the top 5 and win the US Open 

“I know him from TV. He always seems to play better in team competitions than when playing for himself. It’s the same before every Davis Cup, the player playing the second match is hoping he can go on court with a 1-0 lead, so we will do everything  we can to support Dennis so that I can go in with that lead in the bank”, said Thiem

Croatia will draw on an experienced doubles team formed by Ivan Dodig and Nikola Mektic, who are scheduled to play against Lukas Miedler and Alexander Edler in the doubles match on Saturday. 

The doubles match will be followed by the reverse singles match. Coric could face Thiem in the number 1 clash in one of the possible highlights of the Davis Cup weekend. 

Great Britain vs Colombia

Ten-time Davis Cup winners Great Britain will face a tough match against Colombia at altitude in Cota. The strong British team formed by Cameron Norrie, Dan Eveans, Jack Draper and the doubles that includes Daniel Evans and Neil Skupski is favourite, but they will have to cope with high altitude.  Colombia will draw on a very competitive doubles team formed by Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah. 

Cameron Norrie has started the 2023 season with three wins against Alex De Minaur, Rafael Nadal and Taylor Fritz in the United Cup before finishing runner-up to Richard Gasquet in the final of the Auckland tournament. At the Australian Open he lost to Jiri Lehecka in the third round. 

Dan Evans will start the tie against Nicolas Mejia in the opening singles match on Friday. 

Norrie will play against world number 510 Nicolas Barrientos in the second singles match on Friday. 

“We have to realise that we are playing in difficult conditions. It’s not going to be perfect, but I am going to give it my best shot and keep patient with myself. I have had a really good start to this year, so I can take a lot of confidence from that. I am playing really well at the moment, so I am looking forward forward to getting going tomorrow and I am ready to take it to Barrientos”, said Norrie. 

One of the expected highlights is the doubles match between Colombian team formed bu Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah against Neil Skupski and Dan Evans. 

“The pressure is on their side. They are the favourites. With a top 11 singles player, the 1 and 2 ranked in doubles. The pressure is on them, but we are playing home and we have the experience of the altitude, and we have to hold on that. Anything can happen here. This is Davis Cup and nothing is written in stone”.

British captain Leon Smith has opted to partner Skupski with Evans instead of experienced doubles specialist Joe Salisbury. 

“Our team has become stronger and stronger over the last few years. With more players at the top of the game, it makes selection more difficult, but it’s a good situation to be in. It’s really positive that our players have taken the time to commit to the tie”, said Leon Smith. 

Norway vs Serbia

The Serbian team led by Viktor Troicki is seeking to book a spot in the knock-out stages of the Davis Cup for the fourth time, when they face Norway in Oslo. Casper Ruud, who helped Norway win six of their last seven Davis Cup and reach the Qualifiers for the second time, will not play this weekend. 

Miomir Kecmanovic will take on world number 1265 Andrea Petrovic in the opening match on Friday, before world number 65 Laslo Djere clashes against world number 362 Viktor Durasovic. 

Durasovic will team up with Herman Hoeyeraal on court for the crucial doubles match against Nikola Cacic and Filip Krajinovic. 

Serbia is the strong favourite to qualify for the Group Stage despite the absence of this year’s Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic. 

“We are playing pretty well. We get on, so it’s a very special group of guys and I feel lucky to be a part of this team. We are motivated to go through, to get the win for Serbia, and to play at the Finals again. We are going to give everything we have. I am excited to start tomorrow”, said Miomir Kecmanovic. 

The other expected higlights

Tommy Paul is looking to continue his dream season one week after reaching the semifinal at the Australian Open, as the US team takes on Uzbekhstan in Tashkent. 

Brothers Mikael and Elias Ymer will lead seven-time champions Sweden against Bosnia Herzegovina. Sweden is bidding to extend its winning streak in home ties to six. World number Mikael Ymer will face Mirza Babic, while his elder brother Elias takes on Damir Dzumhur.

David Goffin will face Soonwoo Kwon in Seoul. Goffin returned to Davis Cup duty in 2022, winning four of the five singles matches he played in 2022 after struggling with injury problems for most of the 2020 and 2021 seasons. The Belgian player led Belgium to the Davis Cup final in 2015 and 2017. Kwon won his second ATP title in Adelaide three weeks ago. 

Former world number 17 Cristian Garin could face Alexander Bublik, as Chile hosts Kazakhstan in La Serena in Chile. 

Botic Van de Zandschulp, Tallon Griekspoor, Tim Van Rijthoven, world number 1 doubles star Wesley Koolhof and top 20 doubles specialist Matwe Middelkoop lead the Netherlands against Slovakia in Groningen. The Dutch team topped Group D of the Group D Finals after beating the USA, Great Britain and Kazakhstan last year to reach the top 8 for the second consecutive year. Alex Molcan leads a Slovakian team which also features Norbert Gombos, Lukas Klein, Jozef Kovalik and doubles specialist Igor Zelenay. Slovakia finished runner-up in the 2005 Davis Cup final and came close to causing an upset against Italy in the Qualifiers last year.

Stefanos Tsitsipas and Holger Rune will compete for Greece and Denmark respectively at the World Group I and II Play-Offs. 

Tsitsipas, who finished runner-up to Djokovic in last week’s Australian Open final, will lead Greece against Ecuador in Athens. 

Rune, who came close to beating Andrey Rublev at the Australian Open, will be looking to bounce back from this disappointment as he leads Denmark against India in Hillerod. 

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Poland, Great Britain, Japan and Slovakia book their spot in the Billie Jean King Cup Finals

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Iga Swiatek beat Swiss teenager Celine Naef 6-4 6-3 in the Qualifiers in Biel to book Poland a spot in the Billie Jean King Finals, which will be held in Seville next November. Poland took an insurmountable 3-0 win over Switzerland in the best-of-five qualifying round. 

Naef went up an early break in the third game of the first set to take a 2-1 lead. Swiatek reeled off six consecutive games to build up a 6-4 4-0 lead, but Naef pulled back on serve at 3-4, but Swiatek reeled off the final two games to win the win the second set 6-3 after 1 hour and 23 minutes. 

Swiatek sealed her seventh consecutive match win at the Billie Jean King Cup. 

“I am super happy and proud of everybody. It’s been a really fun week, so I am happy that this week so I am happy that this time I could lead my team to be in the finals. Hopefully we are going to finish it in November, but I am super proud of what we achieved for these two days”, said Swiatek. 

Emma Raducanu and Katie Boulter earned Great Britain a 3-1 win over France. 

Diane Perry won 12 consecutive games from 0-2 down to beat Katie Boulter 6-2 6-0 in the first match on Friday.

Emma Raducanu, US Open champion in 2021, came back from a set and a break down to beat Caroline Garcia 3-6 6-3 6-2 levelling the tie to 1-1. 

Both players traded breaks in the first set before Garcia broke again in the eighth  game to win the first set 6-3. 

Garcia went up a break in the first game of the second set, but Raducanu reeled off six of the next seven games to win the second set 6-3. Raducanu broke twice in the third and fifth games and closed out the match with a smash at the net. 

During the second day Katie Boulter beat Clara Burel 7-5 6-0 to win the first tour-level clay-court match of her career, earning Great Britain a 2-1 lead. 

Raducanu came back from one set down to beat Diana Parry 4-6 6-1 7-6 (7-1) securing Great Britain a spot in the final with an unassailable 3-1 win. 

Parry earned an early break in the second game to take a 2-0 lead. Raducanu broke back in the third game and held serve in the fourth game to draw level to 2-2. Parry broke for the second time in the 10th game to close out the first set 6-4. Parry saved five of the six break points she faced, while Raducanu did not either of the two chances she faced. 

Raducanu went up an early break in the first game of the second set. The 2021 US Open champion withstood a five-deuce second game and saved a break point. The British player earned two breaks in the fifth and seventh games to win the second set 6-1. 

Raducanu won the last 14 points of the second set. 

Parry earned an early break in the first game of the third set. Raducanu reeled off four consecutive games to take a 4-1 lead with two breaks of serve. She served for the match at 5-4. 

Raducanu held two match points. Parry saved the first match point with a passing shot winner. Raducanu missed her second chance with a forehand error, before Parry broke back after a long backhand from Raducanu in the ninth game for 4-5. 

Raducanu fended off two break points to hold serve for 6-5. The British player earned two mini-breaks and forced an error with her forehand on her third match point to win the wrap up the tie-break 7-1 after 2 hours and 52 minutes. 

“To be able to play two matches like that back to back, it’s a testament to what I have been doing. I am just glad it was able to show”, said Raducanu. 

British captain Anne Kheotavong after Great Britain’s win over France. 

“I think it’s going to take a lot of work to wipe this smile off my smile. What a win ! The atmosphere was just absolutely rocking. Katie and Emma came out to play. They put out some fantastic performances against tough opposition. I am just chuffed for the team, we came out and we knew it was going to be difficult to be the underdogs, but we came, we performed and we are all leaving with a big smile on our face”, said Anne Kheotavong. 

Japan, Australia and Slovakia also secured their spot for the Billie Jean King Cup Final. 

Japan went ahead Kazakhstan 3-0 over Kazakhstan. The Japanese team did not need Naomi Osaka to play a second match on an indoor hard court in Tokyo. Osaka beat Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva 6-2 7-6 (7-5). Nao Hibino beat Putintseva 6-4 3-6 7-6 (9-7) on Saturday. Putintseva held four consecutive match points in the tie-break of the third set. Hibino saved them to win the tie-break 9-7 to seal a 3-0 lead for Japan. Hibino won her second win at this year’s edition of the Bille Jean King Cup Qualifiers after beating Anna Danilina 6-1 6-0 on Friday. 

Australia went up 3-0 over Mexico to book their spot in the Finals on an outdoor court in Brisbane. Eighteen-year-old Taylah Preston secured the decisive point with a 6-1 6-1 win over Mexico’s Marcela Zacarias. 

Preston won 73% of Zacarias’ second serve points and broke six times. 

Slovakia, Billie Jean King Cup champions in 2022, qualified for the Finals when 16-year-old Renata Jamrichova, Australian Open Junior champion in 2024, beat Veronika Erjavic 6-2 6-0 in 64 minutes, on an indoor court in Bratislava to earn a 3-0 win over Slovenia.

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Novak Djokovic reaches the semifinal in Monte-Carlo for the first time since 2015

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Novak Djokovic beat Alex De Minaur 7-5 6-4 in 2 hours and four minutes to reach the semifinal at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters for the first time since his triumph in 2015. 

Djokovic avenged his recent defeat to De Minaur at the United Cup to improve to 2-1 in his three head-to-head matches against his Australian opponent. 

Djokovic converted five of his eleven break points. De Minaur saved five of the six break points he faced. 

Djokovic faced two break points in the opening game, but he saved them and held serve after De Minaur made a backhand error. Both players went on serve without facing any break points until the ninth game. De Minaur squandered game points as he was serving to stay in the set at 4-5. The Australian player saved a set point with a forehand winner and held serve. Djokovic saved a break point to hold serve in the 11th game after a forehand error. 

De Minaur fended off two set points at 5-6. Djokovic converted his third break after a loose drop shot from De Minaur to seal the first set 7-5. 

There were five straight breaks in the second set. Djokovic earned his fourth break point in the sixth game after De Minaur sent a backhand long. Djokovic went up a 40-15 lead in the seventh game, but De Minaur fought back by winning four straight points to break back for 4-3. Both players held serve in the eighth and ninth games. De Minaur served to stay in the match at 4-5. Djokovic clinched his fourth break of the set to book his spot in the semifinal. 

“It was tough for both of us. He is one of the quickest players on Tour. He gets a lot of balls back that normally 99% of other players don’t. He did not surprise me with several passing shots. Particularly in the second set when I was up a break, but he said at the net it was ugly. The second set I think it was. We did not play at the high level and made a lot of unforced errors, him and I, and a lot of breaks of serve. It is kind of expected on clay but maybe not this many, but a win is a win but I am happy to be through”, said Djokovic. 

Djokovic set up a semifinal clash against Casper Ruud, who  recovered from losing the second set to beat Ugo Humbert 6-3 4-6 6-1. 

Ruud broke twice in the fifth and ninth games to win the first set 6-3. The Norwegian player went up a set and a break at 6-3 2-0, but Humbert won four consecutive games to take a 4-2 lead with two breaks of serve. Ruud held on his next two service games to win the second set 6-4. 

Ruud broke serve in the fourth and sixth games and served out the win on his second match point. 

“It was tough. It was back and forth. I started great and I was up 6-3 2-0 after 50 minutes. I was playing really good tennis and then I stumbled a bit. I lost maybe ten points in a row at one point there, so I had to try and stop the bleeding. I was not able to in the second set, but in the third set I was a bit fortunate I got the break early and then saved a few break points. God knows how, but luckily they landed inside the lines”, said Ruud. 

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Jannik Sinner reaches his second consecutive semifinal in Monte-Carlo

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Second seed Jannik Sinner battled past Holger Rune 6-4 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 after 2 hours and 41 minutes to reach his second consecutive semifinal at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters. Sinner becomes the only player to reach the semifinals at all three Masters 1000 tournaments this season. 

Sinner has drawn level to 2-2 in his four head-to-head matches against Rune. 

Sinner has improved to 14-2 against top 10 opponents since last September. 

Sinner set up a semifinal clash against 2021 and 2022 Monte-Carlo champion Stefanos Tsitsipas, who beat Karen Khachanov 6-4 6-2 in the quarter final. Tsitsipas has a career win-loss record of 18-3 in Monte-Carlo. 

Rune did not convert a break point in the fourth game of the first set. Sinner earned the only break of the opening set in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead. Neither player earned a single break point in the next games. Sinner held on his next service games and served out the first set with a hold at love. 

Rune recovered from 0-40 to hold for 3-2. The Danish player fended off three break points at 6-5 to hold serve at deuce. Sinner earned two set points at 6-4 in the tie-break, but Rune fired a winner to start a four-point streak to clinch the tie-break 8-6. 

Rune held his second break point at 2-2 30-40, but Sinner saved it before winning 12 of the final 15 points to win the third set 6-3 improving his win-loss record to 25-1 this season. “It took a lot to win this match. Playing against Rune is never easy, especially on this kind of occasion, so I am very happy that I won today but mostly about the level I gave. I raised it today a little bit. It was more physical, there were more rallies today. My general feelings were better, so I am very excited about tomorrow’s match. Even I lose today, I learn again, so I am very happy about today. It has been  a very tough match. I am very happy about the win”, said Sinner.

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