Medvedev on the fence

World No.2 Daniil Medvedev helped secure a 2-0 win for Russian Tennis Federation over Sweden on Thursday to send his side into the Davis Cup semi-finals then immediately found himself fielding questions about the WTA’s decision to immediately suspend all tournaments in China and Hong Kong, as concerns continue to mount over the safety and well-being of Peng Shuai.
Following the WTA’s announcement on Wednesday, the ATP released a statement on Thursday that expressed concern for Peng but did not mention her sexual assault accusations, nor did it include any intention of pulling any operations from China.
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“What WTA did was definitely a strong decision. At the same time there are so many, let's say, companies in the world, let's talk, outside of WTA and ATP. Many of them are outside of China and are still working,” Medvedev told reporters in Madrid.
“I feel like there can be different opinions on what to do. I'm sure talking about [ATP chairman] Andrea [Gaudenzi], ATP, every player, we all want to see her, to be safe, in China, outside of China, doesn't matter.
“I don't want to blame anybody for not doing the same thing. Maybe Andrea has a different opinion on what to do in this situation and how to react. What WTA did is a reaction, so ATP did a different reaction. I don't want to say which one is good or bad.
“But definitely what WTA did is strong. Yeah, there was a lot of money involved there. It's really strong from [Steve] Simon to make this decision.”
Several players spoke out on social media in support of WTA CEO Steve Simon’s strong stance and criticised the ATP’s weaker position in comparison.
World No.26 Reilly Opelka shared the ATP’s statement and sarcastically wrote “POWERFUL” as the caption. He then responded to a Twitter follower further mocking Gaudenzi’s statement by saying: “I was particularly moved by the part where he said ‘we will monitor any developments as this issue evolves’.”

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Noah Rubin described the statement as “weak”, US Davis Cup team captain Mardy Fish wrote, “That’s a statement?” while former world No.1 Andy Roddick tweeted: “How to say a lot of words and say nothing.”
Last month, French veteran Nicolas Mahut said he will not compete in China until the situation with Peng has been resolved.
Asked if he would feel comfortable competing in China while Peng’s sexual assault accusations remained ignored and she was unable to speak or act freely, Medvedev said: “Next tournaments in China are in autumn [2022], so hopefully we can see more of a situation evolving, what happens in the country itself, China, what happens with Shuai.
“Right now what we have is a person missing, and that's not nice. Hopefully, the issue can be solved because we can never know what's going to happen.
“That's why I don't want to comment this early because, yeah, if the tournament would be next week, probably nobody would feel comfortable. Again, the tournament is next autumn. A lot of countries have different issues, yet we play in most of the tennis tournaments.
“Let's see how the situation evolves and what the result is going to be. I don't like this word, but hopefully it's going to be a positive one.”

Ymer brothers go down fighting

Their quest to claim a first Davis Cup semi-final for Sweden since 2007 ended in defeat to Russian Tennis Federation but the Ymer brothers, Elias and Mikael, can walk away from Madrid with their heads held high after several heroic performances.
Trailing world No.5 Andrey Rublev by a set and 3-5, Elias, the older Ymer who is ranked 171 in the world, broke the Russian as he was serving for the victory, took the second set and went down in the deciding tie-break in the third.
Elias matched Rublev’s firepower and played well above his ranking before surrendering 6-2 5-7 7-6(3). The 25-year-old won both his singles matches in the group stage against Canada’s Steven Diez and Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin. Prior to this week, the Swede hadn’t won a Davis Cup match since 2018.
“I was thinking about it right after the match,” Elias said after his opening victory over Diez. “I told them in the locker room, ‘Guys, I just got a win,” he added with a laugh.

Davis Cup Finals highlights: Rublev overcomes Sweden's Ymer

Inspired by his captain Robin Soderling, Elias followed an aggressive game plan against Rublev and fired 27 winners – 18 of which came off the forehand wing.
The younger Ymer lost to Medvedev 6-4, 6-4, which was enough to seal the tie victory for the Russians but Mikael still has plenty to be proud of.
“It's tough to look past (the loss) at the moment. I think when we calm down after dinner maybe tonight, I think we'll look back and say coming from where we are, it's a pretty good job to reach quarters. It's a bit of a new stage for us also.”
Earlier in the week, Elias reflected on the journey of the Ymer family and said it was a “miracle” that he and his brother were now representing Sweden as the No.1 and No.2 players in Davis Cup.
“It's a miracle. You don't see it in almost any other country. It's not in many sports, two brothers. Our parents emigrated from Ethiopia. We're both like No.1 and No.2, representing Sweden in the biggest tennis event in the world. You don't see it so often,” said Elias.
“I always try to stay present and appreciate it. I know we both can do more. Always look where you are and appreciate it.”
Mikael said it was their father’s dream to see them lead Sweden at the highest level.
“Of course, there are moments here and there that I sit and I think that it's beautiful, it's a beautiful story,” added the 23-year-old.

‘Extra pressure’ for Djokovic in semis

Serbia squeezed past Kazakhstan 2-1 in the quarter-finals and now take on Croatia in a high-stakes semi-final on Friday.
Debutant team captain Viktor Troicki hailed the efforts of Serbia’s “saviour” Novak Djokovic, who came through for his side in both singles and doubles on Wednesday.
“I'm really grateful to have him also as a fan and also as a player on the team. He did so much in for our tennis, not just in Davis Cup but our whole nation. He's giving everything for the team. Playing all the time, winning all the time, it's a huge pressure,” said Troicki.
Serbia lead Croatia 2-0 head-to-head and the neighbouring nations will be squaring off for the third time since 2010.
The Serbs have the world No.1 in singles on their side but Croatia have the No.1 doubles team in the world and the tie will likely go the distance, especially with Borna Gojo proving to be a rock-solid No.2 player for the Croats.
“There is a big rivalry obviously being the neighbouring countries, and there is always an extra pressure, an extra motivation, extra expectations I think for both nations to really win against each other,” said Djokovic.
“But I think regardless of what happens on the court, what is really nice in the sense of really positive message out there is the respect and the friendship with these guys that we have on and off the court. I'm sure that both teams are going to give their very best to win it. It's not just semi-finals, but it's playing against Croatia or Croatia against Serbia, which has extra meaning for us.”

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Quote of the day

“I showed emotions that I shouldn't do. It always takes time to recover these emotions. So basically, yeah, my level was here, his here. After the second set, we were equal. Plus he was believing in his-self, he was going for the shots. I was playing with fear. I said to myself, if I want to win, I need to change my attitude, I need to start to believe as well. If I want, I can win this match. It depends on me, it's not depending on him.”
– Andrey Rublev walks us through the emotional roller coaster he went through during his three-set win over Swedish world No.171 Elias Ymer.

Stats of the day

Shamil Tarpischev, who is the longest-serving Davis Cup captain of all time, was leading Russia for the 100th tie on Thursday. He first captained the Russian team in 1974 and began his current spell as captain in 1997, missing just one tie since then.
Rublev recorded his 18th Davis Cup match-win on Thursday, which sees him take sole possession of fourth place on the list of most victories posted by a Russian in the history of the competition, moving past Nikolay Davydenko.
Medvedev improved his Davis Cup singles record to 6-2 following his victory over Mikael Ymer.
Medvedev struck an uncharacteristic nine double faults in his 6-4, 6-4 win over Ymer.
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