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Belgium and France Advance to Davis Cup Final - Mondays with Bob Greene

 

STARS

 

Zarina Diyas beat Miyu Kato 6-2 7-5 to win the Japan Women’s Open in Tokyo, Japan

Alison Van Uytvanck beat Timea Babos 5-7 6-4 6-1 to win the Coupe Banque Nationale in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada

Richard Gasquet beat Florian Mayer 7-6 (3) 7-6 (4) to win the Pekao Szczecin Open in Szczecin, Poland

 

DAVIS CUP

World Group Semifinals

Belgium beats Australia 3-2 at Brussels, Belgium

France beat Serbia 3-1 at Lille, France

 

World Group Playoffs

Kazakhstan beat Argentina 3-2 at Astana, Kazakhstan

Switzerland beat Belarus 3-2 at Biel, Switzerland

Germany beat Portugal 3-2 at Lisbon, Portugal

Hungary beat Russia 3-1 at Budapest, Hungary

Croatia beat Colombia 4-1 at Bogotá, Colombia

Netherlands beat Czech Republic 3-2, at The Hague, Netherlands

Japan leads Brazil 2-0 at Osaka, Japan

Canada vs. India at Edmonton, British Columbia, Canada, hard

Group I, Relegation Playoffs, 1st Round

Europe/Africa Zone: Austria beat Romania 4-1 at Wels, Austria; Ukraine beat Israel 5-0 at Ramat Hasharon, Israel

Group I, Relegation Playoffs, 2nd Round

America Zone: Dominican Republic beat Peru 4-1 at Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; Asia/Oceania Zone: Korea beat Chinese Taipei 3-2 at Yang Gu, Korea; Europe/Africa Zone: Slovakia beat Poland 4-1 at Bratislava, Slovakia

Group II, 3rd Round

America Zone: Venezuela leads Barbados 2-1 at Widley, Barbados; Asia/Oceania Zone: Pakistan beat Thailand 3-2 at Islamabad, Pakistan; Europe/Asia Zone: Sweden beat Lithuania 5-0 at Båstad, Sweden; South Africa beat Denmark 3-1 at Aarhus, Denmark

 

SAYING

“If we make the final again, it will be historic. If we manage to win … it will be more than historic.” – David Goffin, after leading Belgium back to the Davis Cup final.

“It was an exciting tie and the mindset was perfect. There were ups and downs, but let’s enjoy it. Being in the final was a dream.” – Yannick Noah, France’s Davis Cup captain.

“It is very ungrateful to take over the helm during a storm and then be taken away after you reach the calm.” – Conchita Martinez, after the Spanish Tennis Federation fired her as coach of Spain’s Davis Cup and Fed Cup teams.

“I could not play my game, but tried to win.” – Kimiko Date, who lost her final match 6-0 6-0 to Aleksandra Krunic.

 ”(Daniel Nestor) still is the best (Canadian) player in terms of achievement. He’s impacted myself, Milos (Raonic) and now you can see it in Denis (Shapovalov) coming up.” – Vasek Pospisil, on Nestor’s legacy.

“On any day you can have a great day and beat somebody, but to do it over the whole course of a week … it’s something very special. I’m very glad I took one of those chances and have that title to have that memory of being the only guy left in singles. I was undefeated. That’s something only a few people get to experience.” – Benjamin Becker, announcing his retirement.

 

SPARKLING PERFORMANCES

Winning performances by David Goffin and Steve Darcis on the final day lifted Belgium over Australia and back to the Davis Cup final for the second time in three years. This time the Belgians will face France for the prestigious international team title. Trailing 2-1 going into the reverse singles, Goffin pulled Belgium even with a 6-7 (4) 6-4 6-4 6-4 victory over Nick Kyrgios. “It’s incredible,” Goffin said of his win. “It was the match of my career in the Davis Cup so far.” That then left it for Darcis, who clinched the victory with a 6-4 7-5 6-2 win over Jordan Thompson. “It’s a big week for me, but it was an unbelievable win for David,” said Darcis, who has won four of his five Davis Cup singles this year. “I’ve never seen him play that good.” Kyrgios was awesome in the opening set, firing 10 aces and winning the tiebreak. After that, it was Goffin who dominated, converting backhand service returns into winners and frustrating his Australian opponent. It was the first time Goffin has beaten Kyrgios in four meetings, but it was their first battle on clay. The decisive fifth rubber was nothing new for Darcis. He also won the final match against Argentina in 2015 to put Belgium into the final, where they lost to Great Britain. This time, Darcis broke Thompson’s serve to begin the match and the outcome never was in doubt.

France clinched its spot in November’s Davis Cup final when Jo-Wilfried Tsonga beat Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic 2-6 6-2 7-6 (5) 6-2. That gave France an unbeatable 3-1 lead and the two countries decided not to play the fifth rubber. Heavily favored to win, France had to rally from behind after Lajovic upset Lucas Pouille to open the three-day competition, Tsonga beat Laslo Djere before Nicolas Mahut and Pierre-Hugues Herbert won the doubles, setting it up for Tsonga’s tie-winning victory. “It’s unbelievable for my team,” French captain Yannick Noah said. I mean, it’s great to take your country and put them on top of the world. It’s good, it’s always nice.”

 

SAFETY FIRST

Typhoon showers washed out play at the Davis Cup World Group playoff between Japan and Brazil for two days. Playing without Kei Nishikori, Japan took a 2-0 lead as Yuichi Sugita and Go Soeda won their first-day matches. Because of the weather, play in the best-of-five-matches competition was pushed back to Monday.

 

SIGNAL WIN

Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan won her first WTA title when she defeated fellow qualifier Miyu Kato in the Japan Women’s Open final in Tokyo. Ranked 100th in the world, Diyas was playing in only her second final, both in Japan. She lost in the title match in Osaka three years ago. “It was a really tough match. I had to work hard for every point,” said Diyas, who underwent wrist surgery last year. “It was really tough to come back, so I’m really happy to be playing again and to win a title.” Kato’s run to the final was a delightful surprise for tournament organizers. All eight seeded players lost as well as local favorite Kimiko Date, who was playing in her final tournament at the age of 46. Diyas broke Kato twice to take a 5-2 lead in the opening set. Kato, who reached her first quarterfinal in Tokyo, had beat Croatia’s Jana Fett in a marathon semifinal that lasted nearly three hours. “I have played every day without a rest since last Saturday and that is something I have never experienced before,” Kato said.

 

SWEET FEELING

Wu Yibing’s winning ways are continuing. One week after capturing the US Open Junior Boys singles, Wu won his first ATP Challenger Tour title in Shanghai when Lu Yen-Hsun retired with a right shoulder injury after losing the first set 7-6 (6). The 17-year-old became the youngest Chinese champion on the Challenger circuit and the fourth champion aged 17 and under, joining Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada and Nicola Kuhn of Spain. Wu’s big game was dominant; he did not drop a set all week. His victory earned Wu a wild card entry into the Shanghai Rolex Masters next month.

 

SUCCESS

Alison Van Uytvanck dropped the opening set before rallying to capture her first WTA title at Quebec City. Seeded seventh, Van Uytvanck staved off six break points in the first game of the second set, slowing the momentum of Timea Babos of Hungary and beginning her own road to the title. Three games later Van Uytvanck broke Babos to level the match, then jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the final set. The Belgian broke Babos’ serve three times and lost just five points on her own serve on her way to victory.

After losing in singles, Babos teamed with Andrea Hlavackova to win the doubles, stopping Canadian youngsters Bianca Andreescu and Carson Branstine.

 

STUPID GESTURE

Guilherme Clezar apologized after he made a racist gesture during his Davis Cup match in Japan. After successfully challenging a line call, the 24-year-old Brazilian put his fingers to the edge of his eyes and stretched them, causing his eyes to narrow. Clezar was fined USD $1,500 by the International Tennis Federation for “unsportsmanlike conduct.” He lost the singles match to Japan’s Yuichi Sugita 6-2 7-5 7-6 (5) to open the Davis Cup World Group playoff in Osaka, Japan. “Even though I didn’t mean any prejudice … I want to express my regret and my most sincere apology,” Clezar said in a written apology.

 

SET FOR CLAY

Roland Garros, site of the French Open, will be the venue for tennis competition at the 2024 Olympic Games. That means players will return to clay in August 2024 after grass-court tennis at Wimbledon and before the hard-court US Open series. It will be the first time since Barcelona in 1992 that the Olympics will be played on clay, and the second time that a Grand Slam venue will stage the Games. Tennis at the 2012 London Games was played at Wimbledon.

 

SHE’S A CUTIE

 Serena Williams said they have named her baby girl Alexis Olympic Ohanian Jr. The baby was born on September 1 and weighed 6.9 pounds. “We had a lot of complications, but look what we’ve got,” the tennis star is heard saying in a video. Last December Williams announced her engagement to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian. The 35-year-old Williams won her 23rd Grand Slam tournament singles title at the Australian Open in January while she was pregnant.

 

STRUGGLING

 Eugenie Bouchard’s problems are continuing as she tries to begin an Asian swing. The 23-year-old Canadian pulled out of this week’s WTA tour event in Seoul, Korea. She also skipped Asia last year, citing injuries. Bouchard, ranked fifth in the world in 2014, lost to Russia’s Evgeniya Rodina in a first-round match at the US Open last month. She also lost a first-round doubles match in the year’s final Grand Slam tournament. She then withdrew from last week’s Coupe Banque Nationale in Quebec City.

 

SPANISH SWITCH

Conchita Martinez hit back at the Spanish Tennis Federation (RFET) after she was fired as Davis Cup and Fed Cup captain. The former Wimbledon winner called the decision to fire her unfair and disrespectful. After meeting in Barcelona, the RFET said it had decided to “consider Conchita Martinez’s contract as coach of the Spanish Davis Cup and Fed Cup teams to be finished. … She has done a great job in her years as captain. We have decided to change going into new challenges in 2018 with our teams.” Martinez said she had felt “abandoned” in recent months and foresaw the possibility of being let go, especially when she was not allowed to follow Spanish players at Grand Slam tournaments. She worked with Garbiñe Muguruza when she won Wimbledon this summer. The federation’s announcement came three days after Spain became the first country since the United States 14 years ago to top the WTA and ATP singles rankings at the same time. Muguruza made her debut at number one last week, joining US Open champion Rafael Nadal.

 

SPLITTSVILLE

Not only has Karolina Pliskova lost her number one ranking, she’s also lost her coach, David Kotyza. The relationship lasted less than a year; Pliskova hired Kotyza in December. The former coach of fellow Czech Petra Kvitova, Kotyza coached Pliskova to three WTA titles and the semifinals of the French Open. She lost her number one ranking to Spaniard Garbiñe Muguruza when Pliskova lost in the quarterfinals at the US Open. In announcing the split, Pliskova said she and Kotyza failed to agree on “the strategy of my further development.”

 

STEPPING DOWN

It was an emotional if not successful end for Kimiko Date’s career. The 46-year-old played her last competitive match at the Japan Women’s Open in Tokyo, losing 6-0 6-0 to Aleksandra Krunic of Serbia. “It’s a big memory for me to play in Tokyo,” Date said. “The fans here support me a lot, and of course my friends were here and my sponsors were here, so it was exciting.” Date was ranked as high as fourth in the world – behind Steffi Graf, Monica Seles and Arantxa Sanchez Vicario – a year before she retired in 1996. Twelve years later she returned to the WTA tour. She underwent surgery, her second, on her left knee in April 2016. Recently hampered by pain in her knee and shoulders, Date had announced that the Japan Open would be her last tournament. In her career, she won eight WTA titles and reached the semifinals at the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon. She was the highest-ranked female player to come out of Asia until China’s Li Na, a two-time Grand Slam tournament champion.

 

SAYS SHE’S CHILDISH

Naomi Osaka says she has to change her “childish” ways if she is to improve on the tennis court. Japan’s highest-ranked player at 46th in the world, Osaka was upset in her first-round match at the Japan Women’s Open in Tokyo by Kurumi Nara, who was ranked 108th at the time. “I originally thought I was going to have a lot of fun and just play well,” the 19-year-old said. “But then when I started the match I was really nervous and then I felt a lot of pressure and I guess I didn’t really cope with it that well. I went all childish and immature, which I really hope to change.” Nara jumped out to a 4-0 lead before Osaka battled back to 4-3. Osaka didn’t win another game and lost 6-3 6-0. “I just felt extremely tight,” the hard-hitting Osaka said. “Hopefully when I learn more and become a better player, that won’t happen anymore.”

 

STOPPED

Argentina will not win a second straight Davis Cup title nor even stay in the 16-nation World Group that actually competes for the international tennis trophy after the South Americans fell to Kazakhstan. Mikhail Kukushkin beat US Open quarterfinalist Diego Schwartzman to give Kazakhstan an unbeatable 3-1 lead. Argentina becomes the third team to be relegated the year after winning the crown. France fell in 1997 and Sweden in 1999. “Schwartzman did everything he could to switch the momentum,” Kazakh captain Dias Doskarayeve said. “He fought really hard, but in the big moments Mikhail played unbelievable tennis. He’s the hero of this tie.” The Argentines were without their top two players, Juan Martin del Potro and Federico Delbonis. “We’ve got to let some time pass and think what each one of us could have done better … those of us who came here and those who didn’t,” Schwartzman said.

 

STRIKING BACK

Releasing her memoir, Unstoppable, My Life So Far, Maria Sharapova has hit back hard at her critics, saying they “don’t have the facts” to comment on her drug ban or subsequent return. The former world number one was handed a 15-month suspension for taking the banned substance meldonium. She has shown little remorse in taking the drug, saying she still doesn’t understand why it was added to WADA’s prohibited list. “The problem I have with that is there’s no proof of what it does, and no one can give you that proof,” the Russian said. “What is the ban based on?” Sharapova has been criticized by several players, including world former number ones Caroline Wozniacki and Andy Murray. “I don’t think it’s for them to really have an opinion because they don’t have the facts,” Sharapova said in a BBC news special. “So, you know, I think that those are the types of words that make headlines and they will be used as headlines.”

 

SAYONARA

Germany’s Benjamin Becker is retiring from tennis and will return to school at Baylor University to complete his final semester. “I had in my mind that I was going to stop this year anyway,” said Becker, who has been on the ATP World Tour for 12 years. “With my (hip) injury that happened in October, I wasn’t really able to do any pre-season this year. Just kind of wasn’t able to prepare the way I wanted to … At Wimbledon, I knew I wasn’t going to make the US Open qualies and since I knew I wanted to stop at the end of the year anyway, I felt like it was a good time to do it then.” In his last match, Becker lost in the second round of qualifying at Wimbledon. In 2004, before turning pro, Becker won the NCAA singles title and helped Baylor win its first national team championship. He won his lone ATP World Tour title at the Ricoh Open in 2009 and reached a career high ranking of 35 in the world.

 

SHARED PERFORMANCES

 Quebec City: Timea Babos and Andrea Hlavackova beat Bianca Andreescu and Carson Branstine 6-3 6-1

 Szczecin: Wesley Koolhof and Artem Sitak beat Aliaksandr Bury and Andreas Siljestrom 6-1 7-5

 Tokyo: Shuko Aoyama and Yang Zhaoxuan beat Monique Adamczak and Storm Sanders 6-2 2-6 10-5 (match tiebreak)

 

SURFING

St. Petersburg (men): http://www.spbopen.ru/

Metz: www.moselle-open.com/

Tokyo: www.toray-ppo.com/

Guangzhou: www.guangzhouopen.org/

Tampico: www.abiertotampico.com

St. Petersburg (women): www.kamelzon.ru

Chengdu: www.chengduopentennis.com/2017/eng/

Shenzhen: www.shenzhenopen.cn/

Orleans: www.opendorleans.com%20/

Tiburon: http://tiburonchallenger.com/

Wuhan: www.wuhanopen.org/

Tashkent: www.tashkentopen.uz/en/

 

TOURNAMENTS THIS WEEK

 

MEN

 

$1,025,205 St. Petersburg Open, St. Petersburg, Russia, hard

$650,308 Moselle Open, Metz, France, hard

 

WOMEN

 

$731,000 Toray Pan Pacific Open, Tokyo, Japan, hard

$226,750 Guangzhou Open, Guangzhou, China, hard

$226,750 KEB Bank-Incheon Airport Korea Open, Seoul, Korea, hard

$100,000 Neva Cup, Saint Petersburg, Russia, hard

$100,000 Abierto Tampico, Tampico, Mexico, hard

 

TOURNAMENTS NEXT WEEK

 

MEN

 

$1,138,910 Chengdu Open, Chengdu, China, hard

$731,680 Shenzhen Open, Shenzhen, China, hard

$127,000 Open D’Orleans, Orleans, France, hard

$100,000 Wells Fargo Tiburon Challenger, Tiburon, California, USA, hard

 

WOMEN

 

$2,288,250 Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open, Wuhan, China, hard

$226,750 Tashkent Open, Tashkent, Uzbekistan, hard

 

David Goffin

David Goffin



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About Admin
Randy Walker is a communications and marketing specialist, writer, tennis historian and the managing partner of New Chapter Media – www.NewChapterMedia.com. He was a 12-year veteran of the U.S. Tennis Association’s marketing and communications division where he worked as the press officer for 22 U.S. Davis Cup ties, three Olympic tennis teams and was an integral part of USTA media services team for 14 US Opens. He is the author of the books ON THIS DAY IN TENNIS HISTORY and THE DAYS OF ROGER FEDERER

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