December 8, 2021

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Davis Cup lives, and is on this weekend

Davis

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Even if it sometimes seems the historic Davis Cup competition was basically flattened by the arrival of Kosmos and the neutral-site final – which wasn’t held in 2020 – the competition at the zonal levels continues.

And four ties are taking place this Friday and Saturday.

They’re already under way.

You can keep up with all the scores here.

Two are in Group I, and the other two in Group II. Three of the four are being played on indoor hard court while Pakistan hosts Japan outdoors, on grass.

Here are the ties.

Top Japanese players AWOL

It’s a tough time of the season to expect the higher-ranked players to give up two weeks to play Davis Cup. A full spectrum of ATP events both indoors and outdoors are on the schedule.

And so the Japanese squad is led by Watanuke and Uchida, ranked No. 271 and No. 318 respectively. But former junior world No. 1 Shintaro Mochizuki is getting an opportunity to make his debut.

https://twitter.com/mitsurutakada/status/1366759398375370752

Grigor Dimitrov is not there for Bulgaria. Hubert Hurkacz (who has nevertheless withdrawn from this week’s tournament in Doha, but who played in Rotterdam this week) will not play for Poland.

Ukraine’s two top singles, players, Marchanko and Stakhovsky, are on hand.

There were fans, and some atmosphere, at the Marina Club in Kyiv Friday.

Most ties to take place this fall

There were two options for these playoff ties: now, or September.

Most countries opted for the latter. There is a full slate of ties to be played this fall.

Teams reduced for 2022 Davis Cup Finals

There will be 18 teams at the 2021 edition of the Davis Cup finals. But there will only be 16 teams for the 2022 edition.

So that’s going to require extra knockout ties.

The eight highest-ranked winners of these World Group I ties, once completed, will advance to the 2022 qualifiers. But the four lowest-ranked nations will have to play an additional tie in November.

Which has to thrill all concerned. Not.

The two winners will qualify for those 2022 qualifiers. The two losers will have to play in the “World Group playoffs” again in 2022, along with the 12 nations that lose in the ties this year.

(Got that straight? Winning, this year, doesn’t really mean winning).

Billie Jean King Cup finals postponed

Meanwhile, for the second straight year, the inaugural Fed Cup finals – renamed the “Billie Jean King Cup” – will not be held in April in Budapest, Hungary.

The plan in 2020 was for a week-long event at a neutral site for the women, to mirror the new format for the Davis Cup.

It was to be held in Budapest. But of course the pandemic intervened.

That’s still the case.

The same teams qualifying for the 2020 event were to play April 13-18. But the event has been postponed. The ITF is in the middle of “finalizing new dates”.

Meanwhile, the playoff ties, scheduled for April 16-17, are still supposed to be going ahead.

In the interim, the WTA has added a tournament in Charleston, to be held in the same venue as the Volvo Car Open the previous week.

That tournament will be the same week as these playoff ties.

So many of the women will have an interesting choice to make. A number of players who might well be involved in those ties have already entered that event.

Among them are Poland’s Magda Linette, Great Britain’s Heather Watson, Irina-Camelia Begu and Mihaela Buzarnescu of Romania, Zhu Lin and Yafan Wang of China and Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands.

(Editor’s note: Please don’t forget to click on an ad or two as you read this post. Open Court ad revenue is growing steadily – and it makes all the difference in terms of taking on the travel costs of going to tournaments. Whenever we can get to them these days. Thanks for reading!)