Federer hopes Laver Cup will be hit on U.S. soil

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CHICAGO — The Laver Cup was a hit last year, and now Roger Federer is hoping it proves popular on U.S. soil.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion made his first-ever visit to Chicago on Monday to promote the second Laver Cup, a team competition that debuted last year in Prague.

Federer, shaking off a three-set loss to Juan Martin del Potro on Sunday in the final at Indian Wells that ended his 17-match winning streak, was joined by tennis legends Rod Laver and John McEnroe, along with young Australian star Nick Kyrgios.

Federer’s management team was instrumental in launching the Laver Cup, which pits Team Europe against Team World. After its third year, he said he’ll entertain possible changes to the format.

“Down the road I’m totally open to anything,” Federer said. “I’ve heard already from women players. They would love to do it as well.”

Four of the six players on each team are chosen on rankings after Wimbledon. The other two are captain’s picks, and captain McEnroe didn’t wait Monday – he announced the talented Kyrgios was already on the World Team.

Kyrgios lost a tight final singles match to Federer in Prague last season, which clinched the cup for Team Europe.

What impact the Laver Cup has on the future of Davis Cup, the long-standing competition between nations, is still debatable. But there is a proposal from the International Tennis Federation to play the top level of Davis Cup in a single-week, 18-nation format. It must be approved by a vote of the membership.

“It just takes so much out of the players to be available four weekends during the year every single year,” Federer said. “I played a lot of Davis Cup when I was younger and happy I did. I was happy it existed, but eventually it was just too much.”

Federer added: “I do believe that the Laver Cup has sparked some change, some inspiration to other cups that maybe we’ll see in tennis. But that’s a good thing. We’ll take that as a sign of flattery.”

McEnroe, once a staple for the U.S. Davis Cup team, said changes in that competition are overdue and certainly the success of the Laver Cup has not gone unnoticed.

“For me, I say, `When’s the last time anyone’s asked me about how many Davis Cup teams I was part of winning?”‘ McEnroe said.

“In the last 10 years, how many people have asked me that? You know how many people? None. Which is sad, ’cause I played a lot of Davis Cup and I loved it.”

The 2018 Laver Cup will be played Sept. 21-23 at United Center before returning to Europe the following year.

U.S. sweeps Uzbekistan, advances to group stage in Davis Cup

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The United States swept its way into the group stage of the Davis Cup Finals, getting the winning point in a 4-0 victory over Uzbekistan from the doubles team of Rajeev Ram and Austin Krajicek.

They beat Sergey Fomin and Sanjar Fayziev 6-2, 6-4, after Tommy Paul and Mackenzie McDonald had won singles matches in Tashkent.

Ram is No. 3 in the ATP Tour doubles rankings and partnered with Joe Salisbury to win the last two U.S. Open men’s doubles titles. But the Americans opted not to use Ram last year in the final round, when they dropped the doubles match in a 2-1 defeat against Italy in the quarterfinals.

Krajicek was making his Davis Cup debut, having reached No. 9 in the doubles rankings late last year.

“They had five great days of preparation, and as anticipated they came out really sharp and got the early break in the first set. And after that it was like two freight trains, there was no stopping them,” interim captain David Nainkin said.

Denis Kudla then beat Amir Milushev 6-4, 6-4.

The winners of the 12 qualifiers being held this weekend advance to the Davis Cup Finals group stage in September, along with reigning champion Canada, 2022 runner-up Australia and wild-card recipients Italy and Spain.

Eight teams will advance to the closing matches of the Davis Cup Finals scheduled for Nov. 21-26 in Malaga, Spain.

In other matches:

France 3, Hungary 2: On indoor hard courts in Tatabanya, Hungary, Ugo Humbert won it for the French with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Fabian Marozsan. Adrian Mannarino had forced the deciding match by beating Marton Fucsovics 7-6 (6), 6-2.

Serbia 4, Norway 0: On indoor hard courts in Oslo, the visitors, playing without top-ranked Novak Djokovic, put away the match when Filip Krajinovic and Nikola Cacic edged Viktor Durasovic and Herman Hoeyeraal 6-4, 3-6, 6-3. Hamad Medjedovic then outlasted Durasovic 6-4, 6-7, 10-4.

Sweden 3, Bosnia 1: On indoor hard courts in Stockholm, Mikael Ymer sent the hosts through by beating Damir Dzumhur 6-1, 1-6, 6-3.

Lesia Tsurenko to face Zhu Lin in Thailand Open final

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HUA HIN, Thailand — Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine reached her first final in four years after the top-seeded Bianca Andreescu retired with a shoulder injury during their semifinal match at the Thailand Open.

Tsurenko, in search of her fifth WTA title, was leading the 2019 U.S. Open champion 7-5, 4-0 when the Canadian stopped playing.

The former world No. 23 fought from 3-5 down to take the first set and reeled off eight straight games before Andreescu retired with a right shoulder problem.

“Bianca is such an amazing player. She is capable of hitting all kinds of shots and gave so much trouble today,” said the 33-year-old Tsurenko, now ranked 136th. “But I was just fighting and I told myself positive things that I can do it. Unfortunately, she had to retire.”

The Ukrainian last lifted a WTA trophy in Acapulco in 2018 and hasn’t been to a final since Brisbane in 2019.

She will face Zhu Lin of China in the final.

“She had some good wins in the Australian Open,” Tsurenko said. “She is one of the dangerous players in this tournament. She is going to give a good fight.”

In the all-Chinese semifinal earlier, Zhu benefited from a barrage of unforced errors from Wang Xinyu and prevailed 6-2, 6-4 for her first WTA final.

The world No. 54 player, who reached the last 16 at the Australian Open in January, relied on her solid baseline game to force errors.

“It was very windy, so I tried to be patient and keep my first serves in,” said the 29-year-old Zhu, who will team up with Wang in the doubles final against Hao-Ching Chan and Fang-Hsien Wu of Taiwan.