Davis Cup, Fed Cup Finals Postponed Until To 2021

File: French (L) and Spanish tennis players pose for photographers behind the Davis Cup on September 13, 2018 in Villeneuve-d’Ascq, northern France, after the draw for the Davis Cup semi-final between France and Spain.  Philippe HUGUEN / AFP

 

The men’s Davis Cup and women’s Fed Cup tennis finals have both been rescheduled for next year due to complications posed by the coronavirus pandemic, the ITF announced Friday.

This year’s Davis Cup finals in Madrid, the second instalment of a new-look competition, were due to run November 23-29 while the revamped Fed Cup had been postponed indefinitely after April’s finals were called off.

“It’s a huge disappointment for all of us that the Davis Cup Finals will not be held in 2020,” said Barcelona football star Gerard Pique, whose Kosmos investment group finances the competition.

“We don’t know how the situation will develop in each qualified nation, or if restrictions in Spain will remain sufficiently eased, as such it is impossible to predict the situation in November and guarantee the safety of those travelling to Madrid.”

The rearranged finals will comprise the 18 teams which qualified for the this year’s edition. It will instead begin the week starting November 22, 2021.

“This is a tough decision to have to make, but delivering an international team event on this scale while guaranteeing the health and safety of all involved ultimately poses too great a risk,” said ITF president David Haggerty.

Spain has one of the worst affected countries by the pandemic, suffering more than 28,000 deaths, but started reopening its borders at the end of last week.

The announcement capped a bad week for tennis after world number one Novak Djokovic’s exhibition tournament in the Balkans led to him and other top players Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki testing positive for COVID-19.

All professional tennis has been in cold storage since mid-March with Wimbledon cancelled for the first time since the World War II and Roland Garros moved back to September and October.

The US Open is going ahead as scheduled in New York from August 31, although the rash of positive tests at Djokovic’s event has raised questions about the resumption of the season.

A number of Davis Cup qualifiers in March were played behind closed doors at the onset of the global health crisis. World Group I and II ties scheduled for September will be pushed back until next year.

The revised 12-team Fed Cup finals were initially due to take place on indoor clay in Budapest from April 14-19 but were shelved in response to the virus outbreak. They have been reprogrammed for April 13-18, 2021.

“Due to the ongoing challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, it has not been possible to reschedule the postponed Finals in 2020,” the ITF said Friday.

“In addition to the Laszlo Papp Arena being unavailable over the latter part of the year, there remain significant logistical and regulatory challenges that mean hosting an indoor mass gathering while guaranteeing the health and safety of all involved will not be feasible.”

– ‘Extraordinary times’ –

Eight Fed Cup play-off ties to be held at various venues around the world were also put on hold in March. They will be played next February.

“While it is regrettable that the Finals will not be able to take place this year, we are confident that we will be able to host a superb event in Budapest in April 2021,” said Haggerty.

“In these extraordinary times, we believe that the best way forward in order both to protect the health and safety of all involved and to best respect the integrity of the competition is to extend this year’s Fed Cup into 2021, with the event returning to an annual basis the following year.”

The move to reform the Fed Cup followed a similar overhaul of the Davis Cup, with Madrid hosting the inaugural finals won by Rafael Nadal’s Spain in Madrid last November.

The previous format, which saw the eight-team World Group decided over three ties separated over the course of the season, was criticised for being too protracted and for not protecting player welfare which led many top players to stop representing their countries.

The new-look tournament will offer a total prize pot of $18 million with $12 million going to players and $6 million to national tennis associations.

The finals will feature four groups of three teams, with the winners progressing to the semi-finals and final. All matches will consist of two singles and one doubles.

France won last year’s competition after beating Australia 3-2 in the final in Perth

Nadal Inspires Spain To Sixth Davis Cup Triumph

Spain’s Rafael Nadal (2L) celebrates after defeating Canada’s Denis Shapovalov during the final singles tennis match between Canada and Spain at the Davis Cup Madrid Finals 2019 in Madrid on November 24, 2019.
GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP

 

Rafael Nadal put the finishing touches to his extraordinary year by clinching a sixth Davis Cup title for Spain on Sunday as he beat Denis Shapovalov in Madrid to seal victory over Canada.

Nadal’s 6-3, 7-6 (9/7) win over Shapovalov in front of an adoring home crowd at the Caja Magica gave Spain an unassailable 2-0 lead after Roberto Bautista Agut earlier battled past Felix Auger-Aliassime 7-6 (7/3), 6-3.

The 33-year-old Nadal had been an unstoppable force in Spain’s pulsating semi-final against Britain on Saturday and never looked like letting this chance slip, with King Felipe VI and Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos watching on, along with Barcelona defender Gerard Pique.

Pique’s marketing company Kosmos have been at the heart of the raft of changes to this 119-year-old competition but Nadal’s brilliance has been familiar, even if this will surely go down as one of the finest seasons of the 19-time Grand Slam champion’s sparkling career.

READ ALSO: Enugu Rangers Protest CAF Cup Afternoon Kick-Off

He added a fourth Davis Cup final success — three more than Roger Federer — to the ones he claimed in 2004, 2009 and 2011, while capping a remarkable 12 months that has included winning the French and US Opens, and ending the year as world number one.

The Spanish team will also pocket a cheque worth $2.1 million.

Nadal won eight out of eight rubbers played this week and at times on Saturday, as when he stormed to singles and doubles victories against Britain, it was tempting to view Spain’s progress as something of a solo effort.

Spain Boost Revamped Event

But, unlike Canada, Spain have used all five of their squad, with Bautista Agut, Pablo Carreno Busta and Feliciano Lopez all playing at least one singles match, and Lopez and Marcel Granollers joining forces in the doubles.

There has also been the undeniable advantage of the home crowd and although Spain’s success has delivered a huge boost to the event in its inaugural year, some will argue it might have been fairer to find a new venue in 2020, let alone consider keeping it in Madrid until 2021.

Hosting and mixed attendances are among several issues for Pique and the International Tennis Federation to solve in the coming months but on the court, some gripping ties have ensured the new Davis Cup has got off to an encouraging start.

Bautista Agut’s win over Auger-Aliassime was particularly poignant, given the world number nine was returning after withdrawing from the team on Thursday, following the death of his father Joaquin.

Shapovalov, meanwhile, had ousted Nadal at the Canada Masters when they first met in 2017 but he was no match here for the veteran’s power and sheer force of will.

A blistering forehand on the run set up the decisive break in the first set, which Nadal served out when Shapovalov hit long.

The youngster had a breakpoint early in the second but slapped his return into the net and Nadal held on, surviving a nine-minute game when a Shapovalov retrieval plopped out.

Shapovalov opted for more variety with a brilliant touch volley and then a deft drop-shot making things increasingly uncomfortable for Nadal, who came under pressure when serving to stay in the set both at 5-4 and 6-5.

In the tie-break, Shapovalov led early but missed a short forehand for 4-2. Instead, Nadal won four of the next five to tee up two points for the title. He looked sure to convert the first, on serve, but Shapovalov ripped a forehand pass.

Two big serves saw Shapovalov save the second and then create a set point of his own. But Nadal saved it for 7-7 and a return into the net gave him a third championship point.

When a Shapovalov forehand hit the tape, Nadal fell on his back, his arms outstretched.

A tie-break had proven crucial to Bautista Agut’s victory too as two poor shots from Auger-Aliassime, the second a wild forehand long gave his opponent three chances to take the opening set.

Auger-Aliassime threatened a comeback with a break back in the second set but the resistance was brief as Bautista Agut broke again immediately before serving out as a final backhand drifted wide.

AFP

Davis Cup: Murray Leads Britain To Opening Win

Great Britain’s Andy Murray returns the ball to Netherlands’ Tallon Griekspoor during the singles tennis match between Great Britain and the Netherlands at the Davis Cup Madrid Finals 2019 in Madrid on November 20, 2019. GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP

 

 

The Davis Cup has a new format but Andy Murray’s love of a comeback remains intact after the Scot battled from behind to beat Tallon Griekspoor on Wednesday as Great Britain edged past Holland.

Murray came from a set down and then trailed 4-1 in the decider in Madrid before beating the spirited Griekspoor, ranked 179 in the world, 6-7 (7/9), 6-4, 7-6 (7/5).

“I’ve found a way to win matches many times in my career when I’ve not been playing well,” Murray said. “You can draw on that a little bit.”

A scrappy victory gave Great Britain the lead in their opening Group E tie and while Dan Evans lost the second singles rubber to Robin Haase, Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski finished the job in the doubles.

Rafael Nadal won his 26th consecutive Davis Cup singles match later on Wednesday as Spain booked their place in the quarter-finals with a 3-0 victory over defending champions Croatia.

Novak Djokovic, meanwhile, cruised past Yoshihito Nishioka to help Serbia beat Japan by the same scoreline.

Murray had given short shrift on Tuesday to those he believes have been too quick to criticise the revamped Davis Cup, which for the first time is featuring all 18 World Group countries competing for the trophy across a single week in one venue.

And in what will be music to the ears of the organisers, among them Barcelona footballer Gerard Pique, Murray was full of praise for the atmosphere inside the Caja Magica’s cosy Stadium 3.

“The atmosphere was brilliant,” Murray said afterwards. “That was the one concern I had about the event, about it being on neutral ground, but it was great.”

British fans have been second only to Spanish in terms of tickets sold so far and the strong attendance for Murray’s opener inside the tournament’s smallest court, with a capacity of 2,500, has not been consistent across other morning matches.

– Biggest attraction –

Murray, along with Nadal and Djokovic, is one of the competition’s biggest attractions this week and Britain’s prospects of progressing to the quater-finals look good ahead of Thursday’s tie against Kazakhstan.

It remains to be seen whether Murray plays or is rested against the Kazakhs but he was given a stiff workout by the 23-year-old Griekspoor, who was a surprise pick in the Dutch team ahead of Botic Van de Zandschlup.

“About an hour before the match it changed,” said Murray. “I didn’t know much about his game.”

But Murray again dug deep, his experience and resilience proving the difference as Griekspoor lost his nerve and then the match.

Haase outlasted Evans 6-3, 6-7 (5/7), 6-4 while Jamie Murray and Skupski held on for a 6-4, 7-6 (8/6) win over Wesley Koolhof and Jean-Julien Rojer.

Djokovic enjoyed a more comfortable start as he cruised to a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Nishioka in a straightforward win for Serbia against Japan.

Serbia will play France on Thursday to decide who goes through as winners of Group A.

“It’s probably one of the biggest challenges we can have in this competition, playing against France, one of the most successful nations in Davis Cup, and definitely one of the strongest teams,” Djokovic said.

Nadal saw off Croatia’s Borna Gojo 6-4, 6-3 and then helped Spain win the doubles rubber alongside Marcel Granollers.

Argentina could have secured progress by beating Germany but lost all three matches as Philipp Kohlschreiber beat Guido Pella and Jan-Lennard Struff overcame Diego Schwartzman to establish an unassailable advantage. Germany will advance if they beat Chile on Thursday.

Canada are already through and will meet Australia in the last eight on Thursday, after Leyton Hewitt’s team beat Belgium 2-1.

Murray Makes Britain’s List For Davis Cup

Andy Murray/ AFP

 

Andy Murray has been selected for Britain’s Davis Cup squad 24 hours after winning his first tournament since 2017.

Former world number one Murray clinched his first ATP Tour title for over two years on Sunday when he beat Stan Wawrinka in the European Open final in Antwerp.

It was only the sixth singles event the 32-year-old Scot has competed in since returning from the hip resurfacing operation he had in January.

GB captain Leon Smith on Monday named four of his five-man team, with two-time Wimbledon champion Murray alongside his brother Jamie, Dan Evans and Neal Skupski.

The group will compete in the new-format Davis Cup in Madrid next month as Murray looks to emulate his star role in Britain’s 2015 victory in the competition.

“I’m delighted to name our first four players to represent GB for the Davis Cup Finals,” Smith said.

“Dan is playing some of the best tennis of his career and firmly deserves his place back inside the world’s Top 50.

“It’s been absolutely fantastic to see Andy back competing again, headlined by his incredible win in Antwerp yesterday.

“Jamie and Neal have been gaining much momentum as a team with impressive semi-final runs at Cincinnati, US Open, Beijing and Shanghai.

“We are in a good positions with improved strength and depth in our team and will be naming the fifth player in the next couple of weeks.

“We are looking forward to bringing our best tennis to the group phase.”

The Davis Cup will have a round-robin stage before the group winners and the next two top teams advance to the knockout stages.

The tournament takes place on the hard courts of La Caja Magica in Madrid from November 18-24.

The ties themselves will have two singles matches and one doubles, all of which will be best-of-three tie-break sets.

Great Britain are in Group E with Holland and Kazakhstan, who they face on November 20 and 21 respectively.

AFP

Nadal Named In Spain Squad For Davis Cup

 

Rafael Nadal of Spain 
Johannes EISELE / AFP

World number two Rafael Nadal has been named in the Spain squad for the Davis Cup finals in Madrid next month.

Nadal was included in a list of five Spanish players, with Roberto Bautista, Pablo Carreno, Feliciano Lopez and Marcel Granollers also picked by coach Sergi Bruguera.

A wrist injury forced Nadal to withdraw from the Shanghai Masters three weeks ago and it remains to be seen whether the 19-time grand slam champion is fit enough to play.

World number 40 Fernando Verdasco said he was “very disappointed” to be left out.

“Very sad and disappointed not to be in the team of @CopaDavis and that the captain #SergiBruguera doesn’t count on me,” Verdasco wrote on Twitter. “I was very excited to possibly play my last Davis Cup in my city (#Madrid). Thanks to all those that do believe in me!”

The Davis Cup starts on November 18 at the Caja Magica and Spain have been draw alongside Russia and Croatia in Group B.

Controversial changes to the format of the 119-year-old tournament mean 18 teams will contest the finals over the course of a week.

Each tie will consist of two singles and one doubles match, with the winners of the six groups and two best-ranked runners-up progressing to the quarter-finals.

Davis Cup: Djokovic To Play For Serbia

Novak Djokovic of Serbia practices for the US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on August 22, 2019 in New York City. Matthew Stockman/Getty Images/AFP

 

World number one Novak Djokovic will compete with Serbia in the revamped Davis Cup this November in Madrid, the country’s tennis federation confirmed on Monday, ending doubts about the star player’s appearance.

“We have fantastic news: Novak will participate in the final tournament in Madrid. I had the opportunity to discuss it with him in New York,” Serbia’s team coach Nenad Zimonjic said in a statement.

The Serb is currently defending his title in New York at the US open.

“It’s a huge boost to have Novak. I am very happy to see him join the team after a long absence,” Zimonjic added.

The 32-year-old, who led Serbia to a maiden Davis Cup in 2010, hasn’t played in the tournament since 2017, when Serbia qualified for the semi-finals by defeating Spain 4-1.

Last year he did not show much enthusiasm for the new Davis Cup format, in which 18 teams will be split into three groups, with the winners and two best runners-up to reach the quarter-finals.

In October Djokovic said he was unsure about his participation given the competition’s proximity to the rival ATP World Team Cup at the start of the 2020 season.

“I just feel like the date of the Davis Cup is really bad, especially for the top players,” he said at the time.

Serbia will play their first Davis Cup match in Madrid against Japan on 20 November, before facing France the following day.

Before that, Djokovic is expected to play in the London Masters,the final of which is set for 17 November, according to the Serbian tennis federation.

AFP

Croatia’s Cilic Gets Heroic Welcome After Davis Cup Win

Croatia’s Marin Cilic (C) addresses fans as he and other members of Croatia’s Davis Cup team celebrate onstage during a welcome ceremony at Zagreb’s Main Square on November 26, 2018. Several thousand fans gathered to welcome their country’s Davis Cup team upon their return from France, where they beat the hosts and won the title. AFP

 

Thousands of Croatians gathered in Zagreb’s main square on Monday to embrace their returning Davis Cup team, who routed hosts France in the final to clinch the trophy for the second time.

“Croatia, Croatia!” chanted both the crowd and the players, led by world number seven Marin Cilic, who were standing on an improvised stage in Ban Jelacic square.

Behind them, a giant screen replayed their matches from the Davis Cup final in Lille, France.

“We are delighted to become world champions and bring this trophy to Croatia,” Cilic told the crowd, many of whom were wrapped in Croatia’s red-and-white chequered flags.

The victory has been celebrated as a sweet revenge for Croatia’s loss to France in the World Cup final in July.

It is the second time the Balkan nation of 4.2 million has won the Davis Cup, the first time being in 2005.

Cilic, 30, secured the 3-1 victory by beating Lucas Pouille on Sunday and giving his country an unassailable lead.

On Monday the Croatian press crowned it a “miraculous year” for the country’s athletes.

“Happy and proud again!” read the headline on the daily Vecernji List.

President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, who attended the event in Lille, is expected to decorate the players with medals later Monday.

AFP

Djokovic Holds Pique Talks Over Davis Cup Flap

Djokovic To Face Nishikori In US Open Semis
Novak Djokovic of Serbia gestures after breaking Milos Roanic of Canada in the third set during the Western & Southern Open at Lindner Family Tennis Center on August 17, 2018 in Mason, Ohio. Matthew Stockman/Getty Images/AFP

 

Novak Djokovic was to hold talks with Barcelona football star Gerard Pique on Saturday in Shanghai in a bid to find a resolution over the controversial new-format Davis Cup.

Under a plan proposed by Pique’s Kosmos group and adopted by the International Tennis Federation, the competition will bring together 18 nations for a week at the end of the tennis season for a championship finale.

In November 2019 and 2020 that will be Madrid, but top tennis stars including Djokovic and Roger Federer have suggested they will not take part because it is at the end of a long season.

Djokovic, a prominent member of the ATP Player Council, on Thursday said he is committed to the rival ATP World Team Cup, set to take place weeks after the Davis Cup at the start of 2020.

On Saturday, moments before heading off to meet Pique, the 14-time Grand Slam champion reiterated that the two tournaments “cannot coexist on a high level, especially as they are so close to each other”.

“At least in my opinion, there is no room for two big events,” said Djokovic, after beating Alexander Zverev in the Shanghai Masters semi-finals.

“It might happen for (a) year, two or three, but sooner or later it has to be only one.”

The 31-year-old Barcelona defender Pique is at the Shanghai Masters because there is an international break in the football season and he has retired from Spain duty.

AFP

Madrid to host new-format Davis Cup in 2019 and 2020

File photo of the Davis Cup on September 13, 2018, in Villeneuve-d’Ascq, Philippe HUGUEN / AFP

 

Madrid has been chosen to host the first two new-format Davis Cup finals in 2019 and 2020, the organizers of the top international men’s team tennis event said Thursday.

Under a format proposed by the Kosmos group, headed by Barcelona footballer Gerard Pique, and adopted by the International Tennis Federation in August, the competition will bring together 18 nations in one place for a week at the end of the tennis season.

AFP

Rafael Nadal Returns After Absence From Hip Injury

Rafael Nadal of Spain returns a shot to Richard Gasquet of France during day 5 of the Western & Southern Open at the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason, Ohio.
MATTHEW STOCKMAN / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

 

Rafael Nadal returns to competitive action in the Davis Cup on Friday for the first time since retiring from the Australian Open with a crippling hip injury in January.

The 16-time Grand Slam winner leads Spain into a home quarter-final against Germany in Valencia aiming to extend his remarkable 22-match winning streak in singles.

After Thursday’s draw, the 31-year-old world number one will play Germany’s Philip Kohlschreiber in Friday’s second singles with a clash against world number four Alexander Zverev on Sunday.

Nadal is taking part in the Davis Cup for the first time since 2016 and hitting his first ball in anger since hobbling out of the first Grand Slam of the season in Melbourne in the fifth set of a quarter-final against Marin Cilic.

He may be back at the top of the ATP rankings but Nadal is far from fully recovered from the hip problem which forced him to sit out the Indian Wells and Miami Masters.

He is using the Davis Cup to start his European campaign which he hopes will lead to an 11th French Open in June.

AFP

Davis Cup: Zverev Gives Germany Early Advantage

Alexander Zverev of Germany hits a return against Alex De Minaur of Australia during their men’s singles tennis match in the Davis Cup World Group tie at the Pat Rafter Arena in Brisbane on February 2, 2018. Patrick HAMILTON / AFP

 

Alexander Zverev handed Germany a 1-0 lead in their Davis Cup World Group first round tie against Australia when he outlasted Alex de Minaur in a four-hour marathon in Brisbane on Friday.

Zverev was forced to fight every step of the way before seeing off the challenge of the 18-year-old de Minaur 7-5, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/4) on Pat Rafter Arena.

The world number five had looked down and out when de Minaur, playing superb defensive tennis, took a two set to love lead.

But Zverev fought back to win the fourth set before recovering from an early break in the fifth to force a tiebreak.

He then created a mini-break at 3-4 in the tiebreak and served superbly to take the match and give his country the early advantage.

Zverev, 20, has had a disappointing Davis Cup record, with one win and four losses before Friday’s match.

Considered one of the rising stars of the men’s game, he also has a poor Grand Slam record and fell in the third round of the Australian Open.

But he said he has taken heart from eventual champion Roger Federer, who spoke to him after his loss in Melbourne and told him to keep working hard and success would come.

Nick Kyrgios will take on Jan-Lennard Struff in the second singles.

AFP

France Beat Belgium To Win Davis Cup

France’s Lucas Pouille (bottom) celebrates with his teammates after winning his singles rubber 5 match against Belgium’s Steve Darcis at the Davis Cup World Group final tennis match on November 26, 2017. Philippe HUGUEN / AFP

 

Lucas Pouille throttled Belgium’s Steve Darcis 6-3, 6-1, 6-0 in Sunday’s decisive fifth rubber to clinch a 10th Davis Cup title for France in front of a passionate Lille crowd.

Belgian ace David Goffin levelled the final at two points apiece after beating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in straight sets in Sunday’s opening reverse singles, but a revitalised Pouille propelled France to a first victory since 2001.

Pouille was beaten convincingly by Goffin in Friday’s first singles tie, but the world number 18 shook off that defeat to swat Darcis aside in one hour and 34 minutes.

“There’s nothing better than winning as a team, with my mates, in front of the fans, my family and my friends,” Pouille told French television.

“We’re going to celebrate and make the most of it. I’m proud of my team.”

The Frenchman broke Darcis, who had sent Belgium through to the final by winning the deciding rubber against Australia in September’s semi-final, at the first attempt to lay the foundation for a memorable triumph.

That proved enough to wrap up the first set, with three further breaks in the second firing Pouille and France to the brink of the title.

Darcis, the world number 76, was powerless to stop a rampant Pouille as the 23-year-old dismantled the Belgian in the third set — winning 25 of 34 points — to end France’s run of three straight finals defeats.

Belgium’s hopes of claiming a first title in the venerable competition rested with their in-form number one Goffin, who downed Tsonga 7-6 (7/5), 6-3, 6-2 after withstanding sustained early pressure.

– Goffin’s efforts in vain –

Goffin saved a set point while serving at 5-6, as Tsonga was left to rue his inability to capitalise on any of six break points in a marathon first set.

World number seven Goffin, the runner-up to Grigor Dimitrov at the season-ending ATP Finals in London last weekend, snatched a 75-minute opening set with a blistering backhand return in the tie-break.

Tsonga, who brought France level in Friday’s second singles with a crushing win over Darcis, then surrendered his serve in the second set with a costly double fault as Goffin surged 4-2 ahead before seizing a two-set lead.

Goffin stormed to a double-break lead in the third set as Tsonga’s resistance crumbled, and closed out the match with minimal fuss, but Darcis was unable to reproduce previous heroics against an inspired Pouille.

France drew level with Great Britain after securing a 10th title — a tally only surpassed by the US, the record 32-time champions, and Australia, on 28 titles.

France had appeared in three finals since last lifting the trophy — in 2002, 2010 and 2014 — with both Tsonga and Gasquet part of the team beaten three years ago by a Switzerland featuring Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka.

“It’s great for me to be finally able to win it, I’ve been chasing after it for 10 years,” Tsonga told BeIN Sports. “I put other things to one sides to be able to play and win this competition. I’m really so happy.”

Belgium were appearing in just a third Davis Cup final — after 1904, and 2015 when they lost to Andy Murray’s Britain in Ghent.

AFP