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AITA tells ITF to postpone Davis Cup tie in Pakistan or shift venue ‘suo moto’

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India's Davis Cup match against Pakistan is scheduled to take place in Islamabad.

New Delhi: India’s national tennis federation on Wednesday asked the world governing body ITF to either postpone the Davis Cup tie against Pakistan in Islamabad or take it to a neutral venue ‘suo moto’ given the current diplomatic tension between the two countries.

The All India Tennis Association (AITA), taking a more aggressive stance than earlier, said it would not request for a neutral venue for the Asia Oceania Zone 1 tie on September 14-15 as is being asked by the International Tennis Federation (ITF).

The AITA wants the ITF to take that call based on the current situation and expressed surprise that the governing body is asking India to make a request as “this responsibility rests with the ITF.”

“In the current situation, there are two options which the ITF Board of Directors may want to consider: (I) Postpone the specific Davis Cup Tie to November/December by which time hopefully the situation would have stabilised.

“(II) Since the current situation does not seem to be conducive, in our opinion subject to our reading the report of your security consultants, ITF Board of Directors suo moto by itself may decide to shift this particular Davis Cup tie to a neutral venue at ITF’s cost,” it said in a mail addressed to ITF Executive Director Justine Albert.

Albert, in an earlier mail, stated that the ITF is satisfied with the current security arrangements in Islamabad. The assertion came after Pakistan downgraded diplomatic ties with India after provisions of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, which gave the state special status, were done away with. Jammu and Kashmir has been made a Union Territory now.

“We are surprised and very concerned that the AITA has not secured visas as yet, despite receiving the visa invitation letter on 23 July. As per the Davis Cup Regulations, it is the responsibility of the visiting nation to complete the requirements for visa applications,” Albert said.

This was in response to an AITA mail seeking a fresh security check in the Pakistan capital. The Indian body said it was disappointed by the ITF’s reply.

“You need not worry about our arrangements to visit Pakistan. We have enough time to apply for visas. If you have any information which is different from what has been the past practice, kindly let us know,” read the latest mail that went from AITA secretary general Hironmoy Chatterjee to the ITF.

The AITA said that the ITF needs to take note of the fact that Pakistan has downgraded diplomatic relations with India and asked the Indian Ambassador to leave.

“We do not have an Ambassador any longer in Islamabad. Trains between India and Pakistan have been stopped. Bus service between India and Pakistan has also been stopped with immediate effect. There is lot of undercurrent of tension in Pakistan,” the mail stated.

Chatterjee said a telephonic discussion can be held between AITA and ITF security consultants on Friday and if India is satisfied with the security arrangements and discussion between our respective teams, everything will be in order.

“In case AITA is not satisfied, we would request the Board of Directors of ITF to give us a hearing on our views in matters relating to security for this particular Davis Cup tie,” he said.

Chatterjee cited a 2001 Davis Cup tie between India and the USA in North Carolina, which was postponed because of the 9/11 terror strike in New York.

“Although there was no further security threat in USA or at North Carolina where the Davis Cup tie was to be held, it was decided by the ITF considering the overall mood in USA that it will not be appropriate to go ahead with the tie,” he recalled.

“In this particular situation of India vs Pakistan Davis Cup tie the recent developments have resulted in an atmosphere which is not conducive for a happy friendly tie between the two teams which have immense respect for each other,” he said.

Chatterjee said ITF’s response at that time shows that threat perception is not the only consideration to postpone a tie or move it to a neutral venue.

“Whether or not there is a security threat in Islamabad, the moods of the two nations are deeply affected and there is an undercurrent of tension which is perhaps not being taken into account by the Security Agency of ITF in their assessment,” he said.

“ITF should follow the example it had set up in the tie between India and USA and postpone this particular Davis Cup tie for two months,” he added.

“ITF will be seen as an Institution which is trying to build bridges of friendship and maintaining equity while dealing with nations whether it be USA or nations in South Asia,” he concluded.

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Djokovic to meet Medvedev in Cincinnati Masters semis

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Novak Djokovic. Photo: @ATP

Washington: World’s number one Novak Djokovic reached the semifinals of the ongoing Cincinnati Masters after defeating Frenchman Lucas Pouille in their last-eight match.

Djokovic defeated Pouille 7-6(2), 6-1 in a contest that lasted 86 minutes on Friday.

The Serbian has now made at least the last four in five consecutive tournaments he has played, and the top seed is into the semi-finals at this ATP Masters 1000 event for the seventh time.

The 32-year-old is two victories away from lifting his 34th Masters 1000 trophy, which would move him to within one crown of Rafael Nadal’s record 35.

In the semifinal, Djokovic will next face Russia’s Daniil Medvedev, who will try to make his second Masters 1000 final in as many weeks.

The World’s No. 1 leads their head to head record 3-1, but Medvedev won their most recent meeting at this year’s Monte-Carlo Masters.

In the other semifinal, France’s Richard Gasquet will play against Belgian 16th seed David Goffin.

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Kyrgios fined $113,000 for meltdown at Cincinnati Masters

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Nick Kyrgios.

Cincinnati: Controversial Australian star Nick Kyrgios was fined 113,000 after his explosive Cincinnati Masters meltdown which saw him smash two racquets, launch an abusive tirade at the chair umpire before appearing to spit at the official.

The ATP said the massive sanction included individual fines for ball abuse, leaving the court without permission, an audible obscenity and unsportsmanlike conduct during his second round loss to Russia’s Karen Khachanov.

Kyrgios, 24, was warned that he could also face another suspension from the sport once a full investigation has taken place.

After the world number 27 lost 6-7 (3/7), 7-6 (7/4), 6-2 to Khachanov on Wednesday night, he called umpire Fergus Murphy a “fuckin’ tool”, refused to shake his hand while spitting in the direction of the chair.

He had earlier been handed a time violation, docked a point and was warned again after leaving the court without permission at the end of the second set after which he was seen to destroy two racquets in the corridor.

Kyrgios screamed at Murphy that he was the “worst umpire, hands down”.

The various Kyrgios infractions included four fines of 20,000 each for unsportsmanlike conduct plus another 20,000 for verbal abuse.

“In addition to the on-site fines, the ATP is looking further into what happened during and immediately after the match to see if additional action is warranted,” said an ATP statement.

“That could result in an additional fine and/or suspension.”

The following provides a breakdown of the penalties incurred by Kyrgios:

Ball Abuse (Warning)
Unsportsmanlike Conduct (Point Penalty) – US$ 20,000 fine
Leaving the Court – US$ 3,000 fine
Audible Obscenity – US$ 5,000 fine
Unsportsmanlike Conduct – US$ 5,000 fine
Unsportsmanlike Conduct – US$ 20,000 fine
Verbal Abuse – US$ 20,000 fine
Unsportsmanlike Conduct – US$ 20,000 fine
Unsportsmanlike Conduct – US$ 20,000 fine

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Federer knocked out, Djokovic avoids upset loss in Cincinnati Masters

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Roger federer.

Washington: Seven-time champion Roger Federer bowed out of the ongoing Cincinnati Masters after facing a shocking defeat to Russian qualifier Andrey Rublev in his Round of 16 match.

The 21-year-old Rublev defeated Federer 6-3, 6-4 in just 62 minutes on Thursday for his second top 5 victory in as many months.

The 62-minute defeat was Federer’s fastest in more than 16 years, since his 54-minute defeat against Franco Squillari in the first round of 2003 Sydney, reported the ATP Tour website.

“He was super clean. Defence, offence, serving well. Didn’t give me anything. He was everywhere. It was tough for me, but an excellent match by him. I was impressed… I think I just have to play better overall to hang with him,” said Federer while praising Rublev.

Rublev is through to his first ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final and will meet Coupe Rogers finalist and countryman Daniil Medvedev for a place in the semi-finals.

Meanwhile, top seed and defending champion Novak Djokovic eased through to the last eight after defeating Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain 6-3, 6-4 in his Thursday”s clash.

The 32-year-old will next meet France’s Lucas Pouille in a rematch of their Australian Open semi-final in January, which was a straight-sets win for Djokovic.

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