Iga Swiatek out of BJK Cup, saying scheduling is ‘not safe’

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Top-ranked Iga Swiatek will not play in the Billie Jean King Cup and complained about that event being scheduled to start immediately after the WTA Finals.

“I’m disappointed that (the) tennis governing bodies didn’t come to an agreement on something as basic as the calendar of tournaments, giving us only one day to travel through the globe and changing the time zone,” Swiatek wrote on social media. “This situation is not safe for our health and could cause injury.”

The WTA Finals – which close out the women’s tennis tour’s season and are for the top eight singles players and top eight doubles teams – are in Fort Worth, Texas, from Oct. 31 to Nov. 7. The Billie Jean King Cup – a team competition run by the International Tennis Federation – will be held in Glasgow, Scotland, from Nov. 8-13.

Swiatek, a 21-year-old from Poland, is establishing herself as a dominant force in women’s tennis. She is a three-time Grand Slam champion, including the French Open in June and the U.S. Open in September. Those triumphs made her the first woman since 2016 to win two major titles in a single season.

Heading into a tournament she entered this week in Ostrava, Czech Republic, Swiatek is 57-7 with seven titles in 2022. She put together a 37-match winning streak from February to July that was the longest on the WTA in a quarter-century and helped her earn six consecutive trophies.

Swiatek said she arrived at the decision to sit out the Billie Jean King Cup after “thinking it through a lot and discussing it with my team all over again.”

The other 11 countries competing there are Australia, Belgium, Britain, Canada, Czech Republic, Italy, Kazakhstan, Spain, Slovakia, Switzerland and the United States.

As of now, other singles players in position to compete at the WTA Finals whose countries are going to be in the Billie Jean King Cup include No. 4 Paula Badosa of Spain, No. 6 Jessica Pegula of the U.S. and No. 8 Coco Gauff of the U.S.

Swiatek wrote that her withdrawal “makes me sad” and added: “I’m very sorry, because I play for Poland whenever it’s possible and I always give it my best.”

She said she plans to “to talk to the WTA and ITF in order to change something. This situation is difficult not only for the players like me, but mainly for the tennis fans that support our sport.”

ITF President David Haggerty said his group is sorry Swiatek won’t take part in the team competition “and recognizes that the schedule for the two major year-end events presents a challenge for players competing in both events. We have been working with the WTA to try to coordinate suitable dates.”

Haggerty added that the ITF changed the BJK Cup finals schedule so teams such as Poland and the U.S. would start as late as possible.

“We are committed to working with the WTA on the 2023 schedule,” Haggerty said in a statement issued by the ITF, “so that we have a better transition between the two competitions.”

The WTA Finals were moved from Shenzhen, China, as part of the suspension of all tournaments in that country because of concerns about the safety of Peng Shuai, a Grand Slam doubles champion who accused a former Chinese government official of sexual assault.

Auger-Aliassime, Shapovalov give Canada 1st Davis Cup title

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MALAGA, Spain — Felix Auger-Aliassime fell to his back behind the baseline, then waited for teammates to race off Canada’s bench and pile on top of him.

A few minutes later, the Canadians finally could lift the Davis Cup.

“I think of us all here, we’ve dreamt of this moment,” Auger-Aliassime said.

Canada won the title for the first time, beating Australia behind victories from Denis Shapovalov and Auger-Aliassime.

Auger-Aliassime secured the winning point when he downed Alex de Minaur 6-3, 6-4 after Shapovalov opened the day by rolling past Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-2, 6-4.

Seven years after leading Canada to the top of junior tennis, Auger-Aliassime, Shapovalov and their teammates finally got to lift the biggest team trophy in their sport.

“We wanted to grow up and be part of the team and try to help the country win the first title,” Shapovalov said, “so everything is just so surreal right now.”

Shapovalov had dropped both his singles matches this week and needed treatment on his back during a three-set loss in the semifinals to Lorenzo Sonego of Italy that lasted 3 hours, 15 minutes. But the left-hander moved quickly around the court, setting up angles to put away winners while racing to a 4-0 lead in the first set.

Auger-Aliassime then finished off his superb second half of the season by completing a perfect week in Spain. He twice had kept the Canadians alive after Shapovalov dropped the opening singles match, and he replaced his weary teammate to join Vasek Pospisil for the decisive doubles point.

This time, Auger-Aliassime made sure the doubles match wouldn’t even be necessary. After his teammates poured onto the court to celebrate with him, they got up and danced around in a circle.

Canada had reached the final only once, falling to host Spain in Madrid in 2019, when Rafael Nadal beat Shapovalov for the clinching point after Auger-Aliassime had lost in the opening match.

But with Auger-Aliassime having since surged up the rankings to his current spot at No. 6, the Canadians are a much more formidable team now. They won the ATP Cup in January and finally added the Davis Cup crown to the junior Davis Cup title Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov led them to in 2015.

Australia was trying for its 29th title and first since current captain Lleyton Hewitt was part of the title-winning team in 2003.

But it was finally time for the Canadians, who were given a wild card into the field when Russia was suspended because of its invasion of Ukraine.

“Look, I think we were very close today,” de Minaur said. “Just wait until the next time we get the same matchup. Hopefully we can get the win and prove that we can do it.”

But Canada will be tough to beat as long as Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov play.

Shapovalov is just 23 and Auger-Aliassime 22, but both already have been Grand Slam semifinalists and Auger-Aliassime ended 2022 as one of the hottest players on the ATP Tour. He won all of his four titles this year, including three straight weeks in October.

He also beat Carlos Alcaraz in the previous Davis Cup stage in September, just after the Spaniard had won the U.S. Open to rise to No. 1 in the rankings. That victory helped send the Canadians into the quarterfinals, which they started this week by edging Germany.

“They’re not kids anymore, that’s for sure. Not after today – well not after the last couple of years,” said Pospisil, the team veteran at 32. “They’ve been crushing it.”

Australia beats Croatia 2-1 to reach Davis Cup final

Day Four - Davis Cup Finals 2022
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MALAGA, Spain – Australia had to fight back twice to reach its first Davis Cup final in 19 years after beating Croatia 2-1.

Lleyton Hewitt’s team recovered from losing the first singles. Then the Australian doubles pair battled back from a set down in the decider.

Australia won its 28th and last title in 2003. It has finally got back to the final.

“I am so proud. Australia has a really rich history in this competition,” said Hewitt, who played a record 43 Davis Cup ties for Australia from 1999-2018.

“We have been fortunate to win it all on a number of occasions a long time ago. And I know what it meant to me as a player to play a final, and I am glad these guys can play it.”

Borna Coric put Croatia ahead by beating Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-4, 6-3, but Alex de Minaur leveled after defeating Marin Cilic 6-2, 6-2 to send it to the doubles.

Jordan Thompson and Max Purcell then secured the semifinal win against Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic by 6-7 (3), 7-5, 6-4.

“This is what this team is about, that never-say-die attitude,” De Minaur said.

Canada will face Italy on Saturday in the other semifinal.

In the opener, Kokkinakis struck 11 aces, but Coric was able to break him once in each set.

“On my serve, I felt like it was an ace or he put it back on my toes,” Kokkinakis said.

Cilic, who was on the Croatia team that won the title in 2018, committed 10 double faults. That erratic serve helped De Minaur break Cilic four times and level his head-to-head record with the former U.S Open winner at two wins each.

Thompson and Purcell bettered the more experienced pair of Mektic and Pavic, both ranked in the top 10 in doubles. Thompson and Purcell combined for 13 aces, broke the Croats twice, and never dropped a service game to come back after losing the first-set tiebreaker.

Two-time winner Croatia was the runner-up last year.

“It proved too difficult on the court today,” Cilic said. “(But) for us it has been a great year again after the finals last year to reach the semis.”

The final is on Sunday on the indoor court in Malaga.