Novak Djokovic and Jannik Sinner headline the Davis Cup Finals in Malaga - UBITENNIS
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Novak Djokovic and Jannik Sinner headline the Davis Cup Finals in Malaga

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Novak Djokovic and Jannik Sinner are set to headline the Davis Cup Finals in Malaga one week after playing twice at the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin. 

Serbia vs Great Britain

Djokovic is aiming to earn the Serbian team win their first Davis Cup title since 2010. Serbia will face Great Britain in the quarter finals. 

The Serbian team captained by Viktor Troicki features four players ranked inside the world’s top 60: Novak Djokovic, Laslo Djere, Dusan Lajovic, Miomir Kecmanovic and Next Gen Hamad Medjedovic. 

Djokovic is likely to play in singles and doubles. The 24-time Grand Slam champion won a record seventh Nitto ATP Finals in Turin beating Sinner in the final and three Grand Slam titles at the Australian Open, Roland Garros and US Open, two Masters 1000 titles in Cincinnati and Paris Bercy and the ATP 250 in Adelaide. Djokovic needs to improve his form in doubles. The World number 1 player has won just four of the eleven Davis Cup doubles matches and is on a four-match losing streak at tour level in doubles. 

Novak Djokovic: “Playing for Serbia, for my country, is something completely different. It’s a huge responsibility and pressure, but also an incredible privilege and honour. We had an incredible year in 2010 when we clinched our first Davis Cup title. We played another final in 2013 and another three or four semifinals. We have always been close. Obviously the format has changed. Now every point matters. If you don’t win two singles matches, you have got to win the deciding doubles match. We don’t have much doubles experience as a team, so we are trying to work on that. Hopefully  for Malaga we can be as complete of a team as possible, and get a chance to fight for the trophy”.

The British team has not won the Davis Cup Trophy since 2015. Andy Murray was forced to withdraw from the Davis Cup Finals due to a shoulder injury and will be replaced by Liam Broady. The other singles options in the British team are Cameron Norrie (Indian Wells champion in 2021) and rising star Jack Draper, who recently won the ATP Challenger in Bergamo and finished runner-up to Adrian Mannarino in the Sofia Open final.

Great Britain won Group B in Manchester last September.   

Last September Dan Evans and Neal Skupski came back from one set down to beat Frenchmen Nicholas Mahut and Edouard Roger Vasselin 1-6 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (8-6) after saving four match points in a winner-takes-all tie last September. Evans was also forced to withdraw from the British team after suffering from a calf injury at the Erste Bank Open in Vienna. In the doubles match Skupski will team up with Joe Salisbury, who won his second consecutive editions of the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin with US Rajeev Ram. 

Ten-time Davis Cup champions Great Britain are seeking their first semifinal in four years. 

The winner of the match between Great Britain and Serbia will face either Italy or the Netherlands. 

Italy vs Netherlands: 

Italy came close to reaching their first Davis Cup final since 1998 in last year’s edition of this tournament, where they lost against Canada in the semifinal. The Italian team have reached six Davis Cup semifinals this century and finished runners-up six times. Italy has won just one title in 1976 with Adriano Panatta, Corrado Barazzutti, Paolo Bertolucci and Tonino Zugarelli. 

Jannik Sinner will return to Davis Cup after finishing runner-up to Djokovic in the Nitto ATP Finals championships match in Turin last Sunday. 

Sinner won his first Masters 1000 title in Toronto, two ATP 500 titles in Beijing and Vienna, the ATP 250 in Montpellier and reached the final in Miami and the semifinals in Monte-Carlo, Indian Wells and Wimbledon. He broke into the top 4 in the ATP Ranking for the first time in his career. Sinner beat Djokovic 7-5 6-7 (5-7) 7-6 (7-2) for the first time in his career in the round robin of the Nitto ATP Final in Turin. 

Sinner could face Djokovic for the third time in the past two weeks in a possible semifinal clash if their teams advance from the quarter final. 

Sinner reached a career-high number 4 in 2023 tying Adriano Panatta for highest-ranked Italian in ATP Rankings history. He earned personal-best 57 wins in 2023, setting the record for most wins by an Italian player in a single season in Open Era. He scored 8 top-10 wins going into Nitto ATP Finals in 2023 and reached quarter finals of all four Grand Slam tournaments

“Putting together all circumstances, playing in Turin against the number 1 player in the world, he won 24 Grand Slams, with such an atmosphere, I think it’s the top moment for me. It was really important to close the match so in my mind I know I can win against him. Until you get a win like this, you don’t know when you can do it”,said Sinner. 

Sinner will play in his seventh Davis Cup match. He will be looking to improve his 6-1 record for Italy in singles. 

Jannik Sinner: “Playing for your country is something different. You are not playing alone. You play for a group. You have a lot of responsibility. It’s different to a normal tournament and you feel a different type of pressure, as you are part of a team. I just try to improve in every match I play. I know my weaknesses and my team knows, so every time we step on the court, we try to improve. Especially also the physical side, we have to work on” 

Sinner will be joined by world number 27 Lorenzo Musetti, who won two ATP titles in Neaples and Hamburg in 2022, world number 44 Matteo Arnaldi, who reached the fourth round at this year’s US Open, world number 47 Lorenzo Sonego and doubles specialist Simone Bolelli. 

The Netherlands have reached the quarter-final stage for the second time since 2005. 

The Dutch team features a strong doubles team formed by doubles world number 3 Wesley Koolhof (Grand Slam winner in the doubles tournament in Wimbledon in 2023) and Jean Julien Rojer and two strong singles players Talon Griekspoor (twice winner in two ATP tournaments in Pune and s’Hertogenbsch and currently world number 23) and Botic Van de Zandschulp (US Open quarter finalist in 2021). 

With a win over Italy, the Netherlands would equal their best Davis Cup performance which dates back to 2021, when a team featuring current Dutch captain Paul Haarhuis lost to eventual champions France before beating Spain and Germany. 

Canada vs Finland

A win over Finland would send defending champions Canada to the final for the second consecutive year, and for the third time in four Davis Cup seasons. 

Canada will be led by Felix Auger Aliassime, 2016 Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic, Gabriel Diallo, Alexis Galarneau and Vasek Pospisil. 

Auger Aliassime did not play in the Davis Cup Group stage last September, but he will return for the Davis Cup finals. The Canadian player, who reached a career-high of world number 6 at the start of the 2023 season, returned to his best form last October when he won the Swiss Open title in Basel for the second consecutive year. 

Diallo and Galarneau guided the Canadian team to victories over Italy, Chile and Sweden in the Davis Cup Group Stage. Canada lost just one of nine matches they played during the Group Stage. 

Finland has achieved the best ever Davis Cup performance in the history of this competition. The Finnish team secured their spot in the quarter final with wins over Croatia and the USA. They are the only first-time Davis Cup quarter finalists. 

Emil Ruusuvuori enjoyed a good season reaching the quarter final in Miami and the semifinal in s’Hertogenbosch. Finnish hopes are carried by doubles specialist Harri Heliovaara, who qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals in 2022 and reached the semifinals in Paris Bercy in 2023. 

Czech Republic vs Australia

Czech Republic will take on 2022 Davis Cup finalists Australia. 

Czech Republic is the only team with a perfect 9-0 win-loss record in a Group that included Serbia and Spain. Czech captain Jaroslav Navratil led Czech Republic to consecutive Davis Cup titles in 2012 and 2013. The Czech team features 21-year-old Jiri Lehecka and 23-year-old Tomas Machac, who have experience of playing for Czech Republic in David Cup. Lehechka beat Serbia’s Laslo Djere, South Korea’s Soonwoo Kwon and Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the Group Stage last September. 

Alex De Minaur will be the highest-ranked player in the quarter final match with his current best ranking of world number 13. The Australian player won two singles matches in the Davis Cup stage against Switzerland’s Marc Andrea Huesler and France’s Ugo Humbert. He finished runner-up to Jannik Sinner in his first Masters 1000 final in Toronto and to Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Los Cabos final. 

The Australian team will also feature Jordan Thompson, doubles specialists Max Purcell and Matthew Ebden, who won the Wimbledon doubles team at Wimbledon in 2022. 

Alex De Minaur: “Growing up it’s always been one of my goals and dreams to be able to represent Australia. Now being a part of it and having had a taste of it last year, being so able with all these guys, I think it really brought us together to keep improving, keep pushing ourselves, and put ourselves in an even better position maybe to have another run. When you get a chance to represent the green and gold, you do it with proud and passion. I think every single one of us here leaves it out there and brings their best tennis whenever we are representing”.

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Wrist Injury Threatening To End Holger Rune’s Olympic Dream

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Holger Rune will have a second medical opinion on Monday before deciding if he is fit enough to play at the Olympic Games, according to his team. 

The Danish world No.17 recently retired from his quarter-final match at the Hamburg Open due to a knee injury. The hope at the time was that his withdrawal would be just a precautionary measure ahead of the Olympics. However, he is also dealing with a second issue that appears to be more serious.

According to TV 2 Sport, Rune has been struggling with a wrist issue and underwent a scan on Sunday which his mother Aneke says ‘doesn’t look promising.’ Aneke is also the manager of her son’s career. Rune’s Olympic dreams now rest on the outcome of a second medical expert that he will visit tomorrow who has a better understanding of the sport. 

“Unfortunately, it does not look promising after the first medical opinion after the review of the scan of the wrist,” Aneke Rune told TV 2 Sport.

“We are waiting for two tennis-specific doctors who will give a second opinion tomorrow (Monday). Tennis wrists look different from regular wrists, so we’ll hold out hope for one more day.” 

Rune is one of three Danish players entered into the Olympic tennis event along with Caroline Wozniacki and Clara Tauson. The country has only won one medal in tennis before which was at the 1912 Games when Sofie Castenschiold won silver in the women’s indoor singles event. 

So far this season, the 21-year-old has won 27 matches on the Tour but is yet to claim a title. He reached the final of the Brisbane International and then the semi-finals of three more events. In the Grand Slams, he made it to the fourth round of the French Open and Wimbledon. 

It is not known when a final decision regarding Rune’s participation in Paris will be made.

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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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