Fed Cup follows Davis Cup with new tournament format

Getty Images
0 Comments

LONDON — The Fed Cup is following the Davis Cup with a new tournament format.

Starting next year, the women’s tennis event will be a six-day final tournament in April with 12 teams playing for an $18 million prize on clay courts in Budapest, Hungary, the International Tennis Federation said Thursday.

The ITF has already switched the Davis Cup to a similar pattern, with the first 18-team final event to be played in November in Madrid.

“We have consulted and listened to stakeholders and worked with the WTA and its Player Council to make sure the new format represents the interests of the players,” ITF president David Haggerty said in a statement.

The changes to the Fed Cup ease the strain on the tennis calendar by going from three weeks to two, with qualifying matches in February. The current system has a final series in November, seven months after the semifinals.

However, a new round robin stage at the final tournament means players will play more matches.

Only 10 of the 12 teams at the final tournament will have qualified on merit. Organizers will offer one team a wild card and Hungary, which hasn’t played top-tier Fed Cup tennis since 2002, is guaranteed a spot as host.

“The new Fed Cup format is good for tennis and will keep tennis as a leader in women’s sports on a global level,” said tennis great Billie Jean King, the new ITF global ambassador and former U.S. Fed Cup player and captain.

The first two teams guaranteed to qualify are Australia and France, which will play in this year’s Fed Cup final in Perth in November.

Unseeded Parks beats top-seeded Garcia for her 1st title

Getty Images
0 Comments

LYON, France — Unseeded American Alycia Parks secured a stunning 7-6 (7), 7-5 upset win over WTA Finals champion Caroline Garcia in the Open Metropole de Lyon final to clinch her first career title.

“I think France has a special part in my heart right now,” Parks said. “I’ll be back next year.”

The 22-year-old Parks, who is ranked 79th, had 15 aces and saved all four break points against the top-seeded Garcia.

Parks secured the only break of a tight contest to win the match.

The fifth-ranked Garcia, a U.S. Open semifinalist last year, was seeking a 12th career title.

“Congrats on a great tournament,” Garcia told Parks in English. “If you keep playing like this for sure you’re going to keep going up (the rankings).”

Parks has a career-best ranking of 75th.

The 29-year-old Garcia, who grew up in Lyon, took time to thank her home crowd – this time in French.

“It means a lot to play here, thanks for being here,” Garcia said. “You supported me from the first point to the last. Thanks for all your encouragement.”

Zhu beats Tsurenko to win Thailand Open

Getty Images
0 Comments

HUA HIN, Thailand — Zhu Lin of China won her maiden career title after beating Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine 6-4, 6-4 in the final of the Thailand Open.

In a match lasting one hour and 45 minutes, both players exchanged nail-biting baseline rallies before Zhu finally found a way past her determined opponent.

The 29-year-old Chinese player managed a break to go up 5-3 in the first set. Although she was broken to love in the following game, Zhu returned the favor straight back, also to love, to take the opening set in 46 minutes.

The second saw players trade breaks with Zhu eventually securing her first match point at 5-3. She sprayed a shot wide to miss the chance but capitalized on her third in the 10th game with a backhand winner.

“I’m so happy to finally win my first tour title. All the hard work finally paid off,” said the No. 54-ranked Zhu, who will crack the top 50 when the new WTA rankings are updated.

Zhu has started the season strongly, reaching the quarter-finals in Auckland and the last 16 at the Australian Open.

The victory also allowed Zhu to avenge her loss to the Ukrainian at the WTA Dubai Championships back in 2019.

Despite the loss, the No. 136-ranked Tsurenko, 33, will return to the top 100.