April 26, 2017

Davis Cup: U.S. Shuts Out The Swiss – Querrey, Johnson Close Out World Group First Round With Singles Wins

DAVIS CUP: U.S. SHUTS OUT THE SWISS
Querrey, Johnson Close Out World Group First Round With Singles Wins

By Junior Williams

(February 5, 2017) BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – Americans Sam Querrey and Steve Johnson each posted straight sets victories in dead rubbers to give the United States a 5-0 victory over Switzerland in the Davis Cup World Group first round.

Querrey defeated lefty Adrien Bossel 6-3, 7-5 in a 73-minute match. The Californian blasted 16 aces past the 485th-ranked Bossel and faced zero break points.

It took Johnson only an hour to beat another Swiss left-hander — 20-year old Antoine Bellier — 6-4, 6-3, in a very entertaining match featuring powerful groundstrokes and strong returns. The players combined committed only 16 unforced errors for the entire match.

The U.S. now turns its attention to the quarterfinals in April, when the team will face Australia in a road tie. The Aussies will be looking for revenge after losing in the first round last year to the Americans in Kooyong.

Australia will be hosting team USA for a second straight tie, however, the visitor will have choice of ground – hardcourt. Normally nations alternate hosting ties, but the U.S. and Australia played consecutive ties in U.S. in 1997 and 1999, in order for the U.S. to host the 100th anniversary of Davis Cup at the Longwood Cricket Club in Chestnut Hills, Mass., the site of the first-ever Davis Cup tie. TEam USA is 26-20 versus Australia in Davis Cup play.

Switzerland will try to remain in the World Group by winning its play-off match-up September 15-17.

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The U.S. victory marks the second straight American sweep of the Swiss. The last one was a 2012 shocker on clay in Fribourg, Switzerland that included Mardy Fish defeating Stan Wawrinka 9-7 in the 5th set, John Isner beating Roger Federer in four sets – and a doubles win for Mike Bryan and Fish over Federer and Wawrinka, also in four sets.

Junior Williams is a long-time journalist and tennis fan. At a moment’s notice, he can give you a list of all the Davis Cup match-ups that would give the USA home ties. He is in Birmingham, Alabama covering the Davis Cup first round World Group tie between the United States and Switzerland for Tennis Panorama News.

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Final results
Singles A: Jack Sock (USA) d. Marco Chiudinelli (SUI), 6-4, 6-3, 6-1
Singles B: John Isner (USA) d. Henri Laaksonen (SUI), 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, 7-6(1)
Doubles: Jack Sock/Steve Johnson (USA)
d. Adrien Bossel/Henri Laaksonen (SUI), 7-6(3), 6-3, 7-6(5)
Singles C: Sam Querrey (USA) d. Adrien Bossel (SUI), 6-3, 7-5
Singles D: Steve Johnson (USA) d. Antoine Bellier (SUI), 6-4, 6-3

 

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Davis Cup: U.S. Clinches Quarterfinal Berth; Sock and Johnson defeat Switzerland In World Group First Round Tie

DAVIS CUP: U.S. CLINCHES QUARTERFINAL BERTH

Sock and Johnson defeat Switzerland In World Group First Round Tie

 

 

By Junior Williams

 

(February 4, 2017) BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – For the clincher, United States Davis Cup Captain Jim Courier called on the 2016 Olympic bronze medal doubles team.

Jack Sock and Steve Johnson delivered for the U.S. with a 7-6(3), 6-3, 7-6(5) victory over Switzerland’s Adrien Bossel and Henri Laaksonen. The win gives the Americans an insurmountable 3-0 lead in this World Group first round tie, advancing to the quarterfinals, where they’ll face Australia on the road for a second consecutive year.

Both Courier and Swiss Captain Severin Luthi switched up their originally scheduled lineups: Jack Sock replaced Sam Querrey for the Americans, while Luthi went with Laaksonen instead of Antoine Bellier. Laaksonen had an impressive return of serve during Friday’s second singles rubber, despite losing to John Isner in four sets.

The U.S. took the lead in the first set, winning a tiebreak capped by a Steve Johnson forehand winner up the sideline to go up 6-3, followed by a Johnson forehand that was hit long by the Swiss. The Americans won 85-percent of their first serve points in the set.

Serving in the first game of the second set, Jack Sock vehemently disputed a lineman’s foot fault call, but to no avail. As the game went on the U.S. found itself in a 0-40 hole, but eventually staved off those three break points and held serve. The Americans broke the Swiss in the next game, which ended with a thrilling rally punctuated by a Sock winner at net — bringing fans at the Legacy Arena at Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex to their feet.

Both teams exchanged breaks of serve later in the set, but the U.S. went on to win it on a Sock service winner. A stellar performance at the net by Johnson also a major factor contributing to the Americans’ two set lead.

Switzerland refused to go quietly. Spurred on by their fans chanting “Hop Suisse,” the Swiss team broke the U.S. to go up 3-1 in the third set on a Laaksonen overhead smash at net. But the visitors blew a golden opportunity when the Americans staved off three set points and broke Switzerland to get the set back on serve at 5-4.

The U.S. closed out the rubber and clinched the tie by winning a third set tiebreak, which ended with the Swiss at net hitting the ball past the baseline. After each team shook hands, the American team took a victory lap around the court with the U.S. flag, cheered on by the home crowd.

Despite being heavy underdogs without their top guns Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka, the Swiss have given the U.S. a good fight – and will attempt to remain in Davis Cup’s top tier when they compete in the World Group Play-offs this coming September.

“If you lose, it’s disappointed that you lost,” noted Swiss captain Severin Luthi. “I mean, I’m never like happy when we lose or if I lose. Even if it’s card games or whatever, I’m never happy.

“So disappointed. But, again, I have to say the same as yesterday. It wasn’t the performance of the players at all, you know. I thought they gave everything. They were, yeah — they had chances first and third set, and unfortunately we just couldn’t make it.”

Australia will be hosting team USA for a second straight tie, however, the visitor will have choice of ground – hardcourt. Normally nations alternate hosting ties, but the U.S. and Australia played consecutive ties in U.S. in 1997 and 1999, in order for the U.S. to host the 100th anniversary of Davis Cup at the Longwood Cricket Club in Chestnut Hills, Mass., the site of the first-ever Davis Cup tie.

“We’re looking forward to the opportunity to go back and battle those guys (Australia) again,” said U.S. Davis Cup Captain Jim Courier. “They came through pretty comfortably as well. Hugely talented team. Passionate Davis Cup nation. Had a lot of fun playing down in Melbourne with them.

“Obviously got the result we wanted which makes it a lot more fun, but they’re a knowledgeable crowd and they have won a ton of Davis Cups, so they know what it’s all about.

“It will be exciting for us to go down. We’re already talking about it, looking forward to it. We have work to do tomorrow. We’re not your overlooking the matches on Sunday. We will be ready to play tomorrow for sure, even though this thing is decided.

“I think I can speak for all of us when I say we’re anxious to get down there and battle on. We really want to get out to the semifinals and see what we can do this year.”

Two dead rubbers are scheduled for Sunday – and we have yet to see Querrey and Bellier play in this tie.

Junior Williams is a long-time journalist and tennis fan. At a moment’s notice, he can give you a list of all the Davis Cup match-ups that would give the USA home ties. He is in Birmingham, Alabama covering the Davis Cup first round World Group tie between the United States and Switzerland for Tennis Panorama News.

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Davis Cup: Home Cookin’ in the Deep South; Sock, Isner Give U.S. 2-0 Lead Over Switzerland In First Round

 

DAVIS CUP: HOME COOKING IN THE DEEP SOUTH

Sock, Isner Give U.S. 2-0 Lead Over Switzerland In First Round

 

By Junior Williams

 

(February 3, 2017) BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – The heavily favored United States team lived up to expectations as Jack Sock and John Isner won their respective singles rubbers against Switzerland, giving the Americans a 2-0 lead in the first round of Davis Cup Cup World Group competition at Legacy Arena at Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex.

 

Switzerland is playing this tie without its two top players – world No. 3 Stan Wawrinka and No. 10 Roger Federer who won the Australian Open last week.

 

Isner’s victory over world No. 127 Henri Laaksonen was far from a cakewalk. It took two hours and 44 minutes for the American to win the rubber 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, 7-6(1).

 

In the first set, Isner’s powerful service game was blunted by Laaksonen executing solid returns and winning long rallies. Isner saved three break points to knot the set at 4-4, but the Swiss went on to win the set by breaking the world No. 23.

Isner committed 21 unforced errors during the set and backhanded numerous shots into the net.

 

The 31-year old Isner seemed to find his rhythm in the second set after breaking Laaksonen to go up 3-2, helped by a more effective service game — striking seven aces during the set and winning 84-percent of his first serve points. On the flip side, Laaksonen committed three double faults, including one that gave the U.S. a 5-2 advantage. Isner won the next game, closing it out with his 12th ace of the match.

John Isner

The American got off to a fast start in the third set. He broke the Swiss in the first game with a winning forehand passing shot as Laaksonen approached the net. Isner held in the second game, but not before staving off three break points. In this set it was Laaksonen with 21 unforced errors helping Isner cruise through the remainder of the set.

 

The fourth set was a tight affair as both players battled. Isner was visibly frustrated by the 24-year old Laaksonen’s returns and defensive play. But when tiebreak time came around, it was all Isner. After a mini-break on the first point — followed by two service winners — victory came five points later when Laaksonen double faulted. During the on-court post-match interview, Isner admitted to being nervous at times during the match.

 

“I’ll take the film of that first set and just throw it in the fire, delete that one,” Isner said in his post-match news conference. “I think more than anything I was a little bit nervous, and that was affecting my footwork quite a lot. With me being so big and when my footed work is not sharp, it can be ugly. It was in the first set.”

 

Jim stayed on me to stay positive, even though I wasn’t feeling very positive out there. I think that’s actually what tilted the match in my favor a little bit. Certainly could have been cleaner, but Davis Cup you ties throw out rankings and whatnot, it’s tough touch out there in these matches, so I’m happy to get the win.

 

In the first rubber, it took just under two hours for No. 1 American Jack Sock to defeat Marco Chiudinelli — ranked 146 in the world — 6-4, 6-3, 6-1. Things were pretty even until Sock won the first set by breaking Chiudinelli with an overhead lob that was retrieved but hit just wide of the sideline.

 

“There are always few extra nerves I think playing Davis Cup,” Sock said. “When you’re playing for your country, being a part of a team, maybe at a normal event, normal tournament, you come out swinging a little bit more.

“I think I was a little hesitant at the beginning; maybe too conservative playing when obviously my game is to kind of play big and hit big forehands and be aggressive.”

Sock continued to put pressure on the 35-year old Swiss by stepping up his aggressive play, with solid ground strokes and serves with some net play in the mix. For the match, Sock had 29 total winners to Chiudinelli’s eleven. The Nebraska-born 24-year old was never broken in four attempts.

 

The U.S. can clinch the tie by winning Saturday’s doubles match-up — scheduled to be Sam Querrey and Steve Johnson versus Switzerland’s Antoine Bellier and Adrien Bossel. Bellier’s heroics kept the Swiss in the top tier of Davis Cup, courtesy of his 2016 World Group play-off win in the deciding rubber against Uzbekistan back in September.

 

Team USA is not taking anything for granted. They had a 2-0 lead back in July and lost in the quarterfinals to Croatia.

 

Jack Sock

 

“I think as a whole, as a team, like I said, we’re not taking anyone lightly,” Sock noted. “But at the same time, we’re confident in our squad and our four guys in the matchups this weekend.

“We’re going to go one match at time and get one point at time.”

 

A victory would earn the Americans a quarterfinal trip to Australia — a rematch of last year’s first round tie won by the U.S. at Kooyong. Australia clinched their tie against the Czech Republic with a doubles win to give them a 3-0 lead.

 

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EXTRAS:

 

John Isner notched his 500th Davis Cup ace during the fourth set of his match against Henri Laaksonen.

 

Isner was not aware of this upcoming milestone: “I was wondering, because I heard them say 500. I was wondering what that was. Thank you for clarifying that. I had no idea I was close to that in Davis Cup play.

“You know, I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to play in a lot of singles matches on the Davis Cup team. I guess that’s a pretty cool number to achieve.

“More than anything, I’m just happy I was able to get the win today. I thought the crowd was great, and we’re up 2-0. We’re in a pretty good spot.”

 

“But Davis Cup anything can happen. You see it every year. Every tie almost you see some kind of crazy things happen.”

 

Unusual for a Davis Cup tie in the U.S. to have a serve speed clock deliver results in kilometers per hour instead of miles per hour. Fans in the stands were trying to guess the actual MPH.

 

Junior Williams is a long-time journalist and tennis fan. At a moment’s notice, he can give you a list of all the Davis Cup match-ups that would give the USA home ties. He is in Birmingham, Alabama covering the Davis Cup first round World Group tie between the United States and Switzerland for Tennis Panorama News.

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Sock to Lead Off for USA Against Switzerland in Davis Cup; Courier Reflects on Team USA’s Past and Future

(February 2, 2017) In celebration of Groundhog Day, “Birmingham Bill” of the Birmingham Zoo picked the first match-up of the draw for the U.S. vs. Switzerland Davis Cup World Group First Round tie in Birmingham, Ala. on Thursday.

 

Day one will pit the No. 1 singles of their respective teams versus the No. 2 players on the other team.

American Jack Sock ranked No. 20 in the world will take on Marco Chiudinelli, ranked No. 46, followed by No. 23 John Isner against No. 127-ranked Henri Laaksonen. Sock is 3-2 in Davis Cup Singles play, while his opponent is 6-12. Isner beat Roger Federer when the U.S. shutout Switzerland 5-0 in the cup tie in Fribourg back in 2012.

 

Here is the lineup for the weekend tie:

 

Friday, February 3, 3:00 p.m. Central

Singles A: Jack Sock (USA) vs. Marco Chiudinelli (SUI)

Singles B: John Isner (USA) vs. Henri Laaksonen(SUI)

 

Saturday, February 4, 2:00 p.m. Central

Doubles:

*Sam Querrey/Steve Johnson (USA) vs. Adrien Bossel/Antoine Bellier (SUI)

 

Sunday, February 5, 11:00 a.m., Central

Singles C:Jack Sock (USA) vs. Henri Laaksonen (SUI)

Singles D: John Isner (USA) vs. Marco Chiudinelli (SUI)

 

*Team captains may substitute the doubles team up to one hour before the match.

 

December will mark ten years since the United States won Davis Cup. With the Bryan brothers retiring from Davis Cup play and former star Andy Roddick about to be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame, the USA Captain reflected about the current team carrying American tennis forward since that group of players won the cup in Portland in 2007.

 

“First of all, we’ve been unbelievably lucky to have a great generation of Davis Cup players in Andy (Roddick) and James (Blake) and Mardy (Fish) and Bob and Mike Bryan that did great things for this country,” Courier said.

 

“They’ve passed that baton now off to these guys. It’s the turn and the privilege of these four players I’m sitting with right now to carry American tennis fans and the American flag for us.

 

“They’re ready for it. These guys are battle-tested, they’re veterans on tour, and they’re ready for this responsibility. It’s a great privilege to go out there and play for the United States. These guys are anxious to do that. They’ve answered the call every time they’ve been asked to play for the U.S. I expect that will continue to be the path.

 

“So it’s an exciting new time for us as a team. There’s no doubt that we’re indebted to the great service of Bob and Mike Bryan. I hope they continue to play great as long as they’re still on tour. We’ll miss them on this team, but I feel confident in the group we have assembled here and their capabilities both in singles and doubles.

 

“We have a lot of options at our disposal now, where you’re a little bit more limited when you go with two doubles players and two singles players from an injury standpoint.

 

“There are pluses and minuses. Fortunately we never got into a position with Bob and Mike where we had an injury issue that impacted us as a team. But we’re looking forward to what this year will bring. 2017, we’re excited to start at home. We need to get off to a good start obviously. We won’t take anything for granted. We’ll be ready to play, as I mentioned. But it’s a new page, a new chapter in the U.S. Davis Cup team. It starts right here, right now.”

 

As to the future of American men’s tennis, Courier sad: “You’re looking at the present and the future of it right here, for starters. The even better news is that we have a cluster of 18, 19 and 20-yearolds that are starting to make their way onto the tour, starting to get through the challengers, move up to tour level.

 

“I was lucky enough to come through a generation that pushed each other. We had a cluster back then. We were able to push each other to great heights.

 

“It can only benefit American tennis if we have this young group here. I know these guys are very proud of their positions that they’ve earned in the sport. They’re not going to let those youngsters come up and take them easily either. That will be fun, I think, to see everyone pushing in the same direction, to try to get a few more names on the sports pages for American tennis. That would be a good thing, for sure.

 

“But there’s a lot of work ahead of those youngsters, too. I’m fortunate enough to get a chance to see a lot of it down in Orlando at the new home of American tennis. A lot of them are training there. Jack has been there, as well, to check it out. We’re in the beginning stages of seeing some nice transition from juniors to professional tennis from a big group of players. That will be very fun to watch.”

 

Team USA holds a  3-1 record against the Swiss in Davis Cup play, with the the two countries’ last meeting in Birmingham, winning 4-1 win for the U.S. in the 2009 World Group First Round at the same venue – Legacy Arena.

 

The winner of this tie moves into the World Group Quarterfinal, April 7-9, and will play either the Czech Republic or Australia. The losing country will compete in the World Group Playoff, Sept. 15-17, to try and stay in the World Group in 2018.

 

Related Articles:

Tennis Channel To Air USA vs. Switzerland Davis Cup Tie; Tennis Channel, Tennis Channel Plus to Cover Six Davis Cup Matchups This Weekend

Nominations Announced for Davis Cup World Group First Round and Zone Group Ties

U.S. Davis Captain Jim Courier on Tie Against Switzerland: “We don’t expect it to be easy”

Borna Coric Beats Jack Sock to Complete Croatia Comeback from 0-2 to Send Team to Davis Cup Semis

Friendly Fribourg; The Swiss City Did Itself Proud As a Davis Cup Host

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U.S. Davis Captain Jim Courier on Tie Against Switzerland: “We don’t expect it to be easy”

U. S. Davis Cup Captain Jim Courier

(January 31, 2017) The United States Davis Cup team will face off in the first round of World Group against Switzerland at the Legacy Arena at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex in Birmingham, Alabama.  The Swiss team will be without their top players – world No. 3 Stan Wawrinka and No. 10 Roger Federer, who won the Australian Open on Sunday for his 18th major.

The U.S. team will consist of No. 20 Jack Sock,  No. 23 John Isner, No. 27 Sam Querrey and No. 31 Steve Johnson. Representing team Switzerland will be No. 127 Henri Laaksonen, No. 146 Marco Chiudinelli No. 485 Adrien Bossel and No. 598 Antoine Bellier.

Back on 2009, the U.S. also played Switzerland in Birmingham.

Both teams took part in pre-draw news conferences on Tuesday.

Playing Switzerland without their top two players, looks like an easy task for team USA this weekend, but USA Captain Jim Courier says there are no “gimmies.”

“Now, rankings don’t mean anything,” he said. “Once you get on the court, the ball doesn’t care what your ranking is. You have to hit the shots and win the points.

“We come in ready to play and ready to fight for every point. We don’t expect it to be easy.”

We’re confident that we have four great players here ready to go to battle in five matches,” Courier continued.

“It’s nice to play at home, of course. Nice to have a facility that we like, like this, a court that we like, like this. It’s not always the case.”

Swiss Captain Severin Luthi acknowledged that this weekend won’t be an easy task without Wawrinka and Federer.

“We have the best players behind them here, he said. “We’re going to try to do our best and give 100%. We’ll also try to improve this week. All the rest really doesn’t matter for us.”

“I think one of our strengths is really that the players we have here, especially Marco and Henri, who played more matches already in Davis Cup, they’re always playing well. They give all the time 100%. They’re ready to fight. Yeah, they had good results in Davis Cup. I think that’s one of our big strengths.

“With Antoine, we have a rather young player who is playing the first time last year and helped us staying in the Group. With Adrien also we won the doubles there.

“Obviously we’re completely outsiders here, but as I said, we’re going to try our best and give 100%.”

Bob and Mike Bryan announced their retirement from playing Davis Cup last week during the Australian Open.

“We were blessed to have Bob and Mike on our team for so many years,” Courier said. “They’re incredible. We’ll miss them for sure.

“I have a lot of confidence in these guys. Any combination of these four players would be a very, very good doubles team.

“It is different to not have Bob and Mike here. I wouldn’t say it’s better, but I would say that we feel comfortable that we have great options at our disposal for all of the matches.”

Swiss Captain Luthi was asked if the absence of the Bryan brothers was advantage to his team: “Honestly, I don’t think that it’s a big advantage because they have more flexibility like that for singles also. When they had the brothers in the team, you knew which players are going to play singles.

“Now, like I mentioned, I think all four players can also play doubles. They can change. They can wait and see how the matches on Friday went.

“I don’t think that it’s an advantage for us.”

The draw ceremony will take place on Thursday at the Birmingham Zoo at Noon.

The Davis Cup ties takes place  this weekend February 3-5, on an indoor hard court. Singles play begins at 3:00 p.m. CT on Friday, February 3. Doubles play begins on Saturday at 2:00 p.m. CT. The final two singles matches will be held on Sunday at 11:00 a.m. CT. Tennis Channel will broadcast daily coverage.

The winner of this tie advances to the World Group Quarterfinals to be played April 7-9, against the winner of the Czech Republic vs. Australia tie. The losing nation will compete in the World Group Playoff, Sept. 15-17, for the right to remain in the World Group in 2018.

 

For information on the tie from the USTA .

Related Articles:

Isner, Sock, Johnson and Querrey Named to U.S. Davis Cup Team

Bryan Brothers Retire From U.S. Davis Cup Team

Friendly Fribourg; The Swiss City Did Itself Proud As a Davis Cup Host

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Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Ala., to host USA vs Switzerland Davis Cup Tie in February

USDavisCup

USTA: WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., November 17, 2016 – The USTA announced that the Legacy Arena at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex (BJCC) in Birmingham, Ala., has been selected as the site for the 2017 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group First Round between the United States and Switzerland, Feb. 3-5. Davis Cup will return to Birmingham for the first time since 2009, when the city also hosted Switzerland in the World Group First Round at the BJCC. In that tie, the U.S. team of Andy Roddick, James Blake, and Bob and Mike Bryan defeated Switzerland, 4-1. The Swiss team was led by 2016 US Open singles champion Stan Wawrinka.

Founded in 1900, Davis Cup by BNP Paribas is the World Cup of Tennis and is the largest annual international team competition in sport with approximately 135 nations competing each year.

The best-of-five match series between the U.S. and Switzerland begins on Friday, Feb. 3, with two singles matches featuring each country’s No. 1 player against the other country’s No. 2 player. Saturday’s schedule features the pivotal doubles match. And the final day of play on Sunday features the two “reverse singles” matches, when the No. 1 players square off, followed by the No. 2 players meeting each other in the final match. All matches are best-of-five tiebreak sets; the first country to win three matches wins the tie. A revised schedule for Sunday may take place if a team clinches in the third or fourth match.

“Birmingham was a fantastic host for our players, fans, and staff in 2009 and we are thrilled to be coming back,” said Katrina Adams, USTA Chairman of the Board, CEO, and President. “Davis Cup is a unique event and we look forward to showcasing high-quality tennis, while also growing the game in this community. We expect fans to fill the stands and to come out once again to cheer on Team USA to victory in our first step to the Davis Cup trophy.”

Tickets will go on sale to the public on Friday, Dec. 9, at 10 a.m. CT. An exclusive pre-sale for USTA members will take place on Wednesday, Dec. 7, and Thursday, Dec. 8. From Friday, Dec. 9, through Thursday, Jan. 5, only three-day ticket packages will be sold at prices ranging from $90 to $500 ($30 to $166 per day), representing the greatest initial ticket value. Beginning on Friday, Jan. 6, at 10 a.m. CT and pending availability, fans will then have access to only single-day tickets for Friday, Saturday, or Sunday with prices ranging from $40 to $175 per day. Fans are encouraged to purchase three-day ticket packages to take advantage of the best prices and to ensure availability.

Tickets may be purchased by visiting www.usta.com/daviscup or by calling 888-484-USTA (8782).

The USTA has partnered with Bruno Events Team and The City of Birmingham to bring this event to Birmingham.

“Showcasing such a high-caliber tennis event right here in Birmingham is extremely exciting for our city,” stated Gene Hallman, CEO of Bruno Event Team and Executive Director of the Alabama Sports Council. “This event will reinforce Birmingham’s reputation as being a superior host to a wide variety of sporting events and we couldn’t be more excited to once again bring world-class tennis to Birmingham.”

“It’s an honor for the City of Birmingham to be selected to host the 2017 Davis Cup First Round tie with the USA versus Switzerland,” stated City of Birmingham Mayor William Bell. “The city has been working hard to bring this event back to Birmingham for quite some time and everything has finally come together. We look forward to hosting both teams and expect fans to come out and support the event.”

The winner of this tie advances to the World Group Quarterfinal, April 7-9, and will play either the Czech Republic or Australia. The losing nation will compete in the World Group Playoff, Sept. 15-17, for the right to remain in the World Group in 2018.

U.S. Davis Cup Team Captain Jim Courier will select the four players to represent the United States no later than ten days prior to the event. The U.S. team is expected to be led by Top 25 players Jack Sock and John Isner.

The U.S. holds a 3-1 record over the Switzerland in Davis Cup. The U.S. last faced Switzerland in the 2012 World Group First Round in Fribourg, Switzerland. The U.S. swept that tie, 5-0, with Isner upsetting Roger Federer and Mardy Fish beating Wawrinka before the Bryan brothers secured the win for the U.S. In addition to facing Switzerland in Birmingham in 2009, the U.S. also squared off against the Swiss in 1992 and 2001, with Switzerland’s only win coming in 2001.

The site selection is subject to final approval by the International Tennis Federation.

Tennis Channel will present live daily coverage of the World Group First Round.

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Madison Keys Wins Birmingham for Second Career WTA Crown

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - JUNE 19: Madison Keys of United States celebrates with the Maud Watson trophy after her victory in the Women's Singles Final on day seven of the WTA Aegon Classic at Edgbaston Priory Club on June 19, 2016 in Birmingham, England.  (Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images for LTA) Used by permission Getty/LTA

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND – JUNE 19: Madison Keys of United States celebrates with the Maud Watson trophy after her victory in the Women’s Singles Final on day seven of the WTA Aegon Classic at Edgbaston Priory Club on June 19, 2016 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images for LTA) Used by permission Getty/LTA

(June 19, 2016) American Madison Keys is the new Aegon Classic Birmingham singles champion after an emphatic 63 64 victory over Barbora Strycova at the Edgbaston Priory Club on Sunday.

Victory at the WTA Premier event marked a second grasscourt title on British soil for Keys, who also won the Aegon International Eastbourne in 2014. She was also a quarter-finalist at Wimbledon last year and will go into this year’s Championships as contender after an impressive week in Birmingham.

“I’m feeling pretty good,” said 21-year-old Keys, ranked 16 and seeded seventh in Birmingham. “I think getting this many matches in a row was a huge opportunity that I think that can definitely help me at Wimbledon.

It definitely gives me some confidence and I would love to follow this one up with that. It feels good knowing that a lot of people who have done well here have done well at Wimbledon.”

Strycova had some consolation when she and Karolina Pliskova won the doubles title with a 63 76(1) win over Alla Kudryayseva and Vania King. The doubles final had to be moved indoors mid-match when rain returned at the end of the first set.

“She was too good today,” said Stycova of Keys’ performance in the singles final. “Of course, losing the final is always disappointing. But I played good couple matches and I beat good players on grass.”

Both players paid tribute to the Edgbaston Priory Club grounds team and the immaculate grass courts that they produced for the tournament. Keys took time after the final to thank them in person and pose for a photo with Head of Grounds David Lawrence and his team.

“The groundsmen were amazing. The fact that the court held up as well as it did, considering how much rain we got, just shows how amazing they were and how much hard work they put into this week. They were a huge part of this week.”

Ranking points and prizemoney won:
Keys: $USD146,200 and 470 ranking points
Strycova: $USD77,850 (plus $USD22,810 for the doubles) and 470 ranking points

AEGON CLASSIC – BIRMINGHAM, GBR
$846,000
JUNE 13 – 19 , 2016

RESULTS – JUNE 19, 2016
Women’s Singles – Final
[7] M. Keys (USA) d B. Strycova (CZE) 63 64

Women’s Doubles – Final
Ka. Pliskova (CZE) / B. Strycova (CZE) d V. King (USA) / A. Kudryavtseva (RUS) 63 76(1)

AEGON CLASSIC BIRMINGHAM 2016 BY THE NUMBERS:
37 broadcasters from 150+ territories/markets.
832,552,743 million potential worldwide TV audience
386,646 page views on Aegon Classic Birmingham
2500 (approx.) tennis balls used
64 ballboys and girls from Bishop Challoner Catholic College, Kings Heath, Birmingham
5,000 Nature Valley protein bars
1500 towels
90 umpires, supervisors and line judges from the UK and across the World
70 volunteer stewards
40 groundstaff
35 kilos of coffee
80 litres of organic fruit juice
218 kilos of pasta

Tennis Statistics (up to and including singles final)*
Total is matches played : 73
Total games played : 1783
Total points played: 23 ,062
Total sets played : 169
Total three-set matches : 23
Total tiebreak sets played : 22
Total aces : 537
Most aces by player : Madison Keys with 35
Longest main draw match played  : 2 hrs 50 mins  Rd of 16 Carla Suarez Navarro d Andrea Petkovic 4-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(5)

*Tennis statistics courtesy of SAP – the official Cloud and Analytics Partner of the WTA

Written by Eleanor Preston

 

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Kerber edges Pliskova to win Birmingham Aegon Classic

Angelique Kerber

By Ros Satar

(June 21, 2015) BIRMINGHAM, England – Angelique Kerber dug in against WTA Rising Star Karolina Pliskova in a taut three-set 6-7 (5), 6-3, 7-6 (4) final to win her first grass court title, and her third title this year, having won in Charleston and Stuttgart.

 

The first set could not have started any better for the German, who broke Pliskova in the opening game. As nerves settled for the pair, the set ticked on with Kerber looking threatening, especially as the looked to break to take the first set at 5-3, but squandered four set points against the Czech, after being 0-40 up.

 

The missed opportunities looked to weigh heavy on her mind, as she as was broken straight back, losing her advantage she had held since the start of the match, although she regrouped to hold to love to force a tie-break.

 

With momentum shifting a little in the tie-break it was Pliskova who brought up two set points to claim the first real blow.

 

The second set started with the pair trading breaks , but Kerber kept pressing and pushing Pliskova to always be hitting one last shot, earning a second break, as she kept that advantage through to level the match.

 

First blood in the decider went to the German, who converted on her first break point to open out her second 3-1 advantage of the match, but the nerves are never far behind at times, where Kerber is concerned.

 

Serving out for the title at 5-4, a couple of flat errors handed Pliskova the break back and once more the pair battled to keep things on even terms into a tie-break.

 

Trading mini-breaks for the first four points, Pliskova was the first to hold at the start of the tie-break, but giving up a mini-break ahead of Kerber’s two serves gave the German match point. Pliskova’s return found the net and with it her third loss out of four finals this year.

 

Prior to this week, Pliskova had never even won back to back matches before her tear into the final here, while Kerber picks up her first grass court final, although she has been to the final in Eastbourne once before.

 

Pliskova admitted in her post-match press-conference that there were still areas for improvement, saying:

 

“Is really tough, especially for me because I’m quite high. So it’s tough. I’m not used to go in the knees that often, but I’m trying. Especially with Angie, she’s playing so flat balls so you have to go even lower than normally. That’s why I think she’s playing this good on grass. It’s tough, but I’m definitely trying. I think I did a good job this week.”

 

With the grass court season as short as it was, adding titles to your list was no mean feat, as Kerber now adds that to her list of titles, with Eastbourne still to follow.

 

She explained: “That’s feeling very good. I think this one is really special for me because it’s the first title on grass for me, and here in Birmingham I had a great week. Everybody is so friendly. And the fans on the centre court, was amazing to play with the support. I’m really proud about my game.

 

“I don’t have a lot of expectation also here. I mean, I came here to have a lot of matches before Wimbledon. That’s also my goal in Eastbourne, you know, going there and have like few more matches. Let’s see how many, and then going to Wimbledon with a lot of confidence. So that’s my goal.”

 

Both Kerber and Pliskova are in the main draw for Eastbourne, which begins on Monday.

 

Ros Satar is a British sports journalist covering tennis, and can also be found at Britwatch Sports.

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Karolina Pliskova and Angelique Kerber Reach Birmingham Final

 

Angeligue Kerber

Angelique Kerber

By Ros Satar

(June 20, 2015) BIRMINGHAM, England – It was touch and go what was the bigger adversary on Saturday – the opponents facing each other over the net, or the weather conditions that varied frustratingly from blue skies and the hint of sunshine, to thundering rain that sounded like wild applause within the confines of the media centre.

 

First up on a heavily disrupted schedule was Kristina Mladenovic and Karolina Pliskova, who had charmingly paired up to practice ahead of their match. Mladenovic admitted that the pair had known each other for years and enjoyed each other’s company off the courts.

 

It was Pliskova who was the more business like, breaking straight away, consolidating for a 3-1 lead before the first of the rain interruptions. Despite neither player being keen to try and play through a steady drizzle, it took a while before they were brought off for a spell.

 

Coming out for the restart, Pliskova wasted no time in breaking again swiftly, and served out the first set to love.

 

Mladenovic was net ready to give up without a fight though, lifting her level despite another extremely heavy downpour, which resulted in a few hardy souls being asked to vacate the stands for fear of on-coming thunder and lightning.

 

It was the Frenchwoman who took the early break this rime, only to relinquish it straight away. The pair stayed tight together through to the middle of the tie-break where she even built up three set-points but a run of five points on the bounce saw Pliskova seal a place in her fourth final this year 6-2, 7-6 (6), and her first grass court final.

 

In fact before this week she had struggled to even put together back to back wins on grass, despite having a solid game for the surface.

 

“I think my game is good on grass. I don’t know why I didn’t have any good results before this,” she said. “I’m happy it’s coming now. For me it’s really important to play like this, especially ahead of Wimbledon. Hopefully I can have some good results there as well now.”

 

“The conditions were hard, and Kristina was playing really well, so the second set wasn’t easy at all,” Pliskova continued. “I started the match feeling great, and as it went on it was getting worse, actually. She was starting to play better and better, too, so I couldn’t be happier to make it through in two sets.”

 

She is now a win away from breaking the Top 10, when she faces Angelique Kerber, who extended her head-to-head against Fed Cup teammate Sabine Lisicki to 6-0 with a straight sets win 6-3, 6-3, despite the crowd largely pulling for the 2011 champion.

 

 

Kerber is on her best run at Edgbaston, having made it to the third round twice, and while Pliskova is in her first Premier-level final, Kerber will be gunning for her fourth Premier title.

 

The pair are tied in their head-to-head 2-2, although Pliskova has won their two most recent meetings – Nurnberg 2014 and Sydney 2015.

 

She said: “Pliskova is also playing very well, very tough, deep, and strong. So I think it will be like maybe similar like today, the match tomorrow. But of course every single match start from zero and it’s another day, another match. She has a strong serve as well, so I must be ready to return it very well.”

 

Kerber and Pliskova are scheduled on the Ann Jones Centre Court, at 1pm.

 

Ros Satar is a British sports journalist covering tennis, and can also be found at Britwatch Sports.

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Catching up with Jelena Jankovic

Jelena Jankovic

Jelena Jankovic

By Ros Satar

(June 20, 2015) BIRMINGHAM, England – It has been something of a turbulent year for the always-entertaining Serbian, Jelena Jankovic. She had laughed and joked her way to the Indian Wells final earlier this year, a venerable ‘old woman’ against the young 20-somethings that litter the top rankings, before injury crumbled her clay court season to dust.

 

Returning to a surface that has not always been her friend, despite providing her one and only Grand Slam title to date (Mixed doubles with Jamie Murray in 2007), she put together a run to the semi-finals of ‘s-Hertogenbosch before bowing out to fourth seed Angelique Kerber in the third round in Birmingham this week. Ironically that was also the year that she won the title in Birmingham (beating Maria Sharapova) and made the final of Den Bosch (losing to Anna Chakvetadze).

 

We caught up with her after her loss to Kerber, which seemingly hung on a pivotal point in the sixth game of the first set.

 

She said: “I was playing quite well in the first set, and you know I lost my focus a little bit. Kerber is quite solid. She does not give you any mistakes, she’s not going give you any gifts, so while I was being aggressive and hitting my shots, all of a sudden I got into a bad rhythm and I started making all these mistakes.”

 

In true Jankovic form, she proceeded to give an in-depth analysis complete with laughter and trying to demonstrate how frustrated she was at balls refusing to bounce.

 

She elaborated: “It was unbelievable, it was 3-2 and I had many break points and she’s a leftie and she kept serving that serve out wide and I would return at times a really good return and she would just kind of block it and the ball wouldn’t bounce, and I would have trouble reaching the next one.

 

“It was just unfortunate. She did really well you know, she came up with the good answers. I tried hitting down the line, cross court and somehow she would get those balls back and the ball wouldn’t really bounce for the next shot.

 

“I would run there and I would be at the ball and I couldn’t dig it out. And that game was quite crucial. If I went up a break, you know who knows what would happen. It would of course make a big difference.”

 

It is the first time Jankovic has put together a couple of tournaments in a row, and picked up some solid wins, opting to stay here in Birmingham as the field dwindled to practice, and can often be heard in peals of laughter from the players’ lounge, just across from the media centre.

 

She told us: “This is the first time that I’ve played two tournaments in a while and we’ll see. I know what I need to improve, the little segments, the little things that will make a big difference in my game.

 

“I asked for a wildcard [to Birmingham]. I was not supposed to play here, because in the previous years I only played Wimbledon, or barely one tournament if not. This year I decided to play a little bit more so that I would give myself a chance to play well at Wimbledon.

 

“You know I think played some really good matches, I played quite a lot of tennis for so long there has been sitting on the sidelines for maybe five/six months of the season. So you know, I have to take care of my body, I’m not at the stage where I can play really a lot, so I have to play, be smart do the rehabilitation, recover my body and then start fresh again.”

 

Since that decent run in 2007, Jankovic and grass have not necessarily been a good mix, but that has not deterred her from trying to conquer the slick surface this year.

 

She mused: “Actually I think I have pretty good shots to play on grass. I have a ball that’s quite flat, I move quite well, I can slice, I can drop-shot, I can play pretty good volleys, there’s no reason for me not to play decent on grass. Of course it’s not my favourite surface, because I like to construct my points and be a little smarter than just slapping the ball.

 

“It’s just that sometimes the ball digs in (laughs) I cannot get it up from the ground and yeah you have to have strong legs, a low centre of gravity. You’ve got to have strong quads to keep up with those shots. Not just today, day after day and that’s a big difference.”

 

Jankovic is currently ranked 29 in the world.

 

Ros Satar is a British sports journalist covering tennis, and can also be found at Britwatch Sports.

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