German Davis Cup team in conflict behind the scenes

Saturday, April 05, 2014 /by
AP
AP

An embattled Germany has taken a surprising 2-0 lead over host France entering today's doubles match in the Davis Cup quarterfinal, but team conflict behind the scenes goes on.

Philipp Kohlschreiber, Tommy Haas, Florian Mayer and Daniel Brands are all missing the tie with injuries or illness — and some of the players are feuding with the German tennis federation. That has left the Germans with a four-man team—Tobias Kamke, Peter Gojowczyk, Jan-Lennard Struff and Andre Begemann—lacking a Top 90-ranked player.

The newcomers delivered on opening day as Kamke beat Julien Benneteau and the 119th-ranked Gojowczyk fought off two match points to shock Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and stake Germany to a 2-0 lead.

The selection of Haas and Kohlschreiber for future ties is in doubt following the controversy during the nation's first-round win against Spain. After sealing the tie 3-0, Haas and Kohlschreiber sat out the reverse singles, while Brands played the second reverse singles match. But the move was criticized by spectators and German media, with complaints that ticker holders did not get a chance to see the top players in action on the third day.

As a result, the German tennis federation held an exhibition event for ticket holders last week, asking the top players to appear. Haas, who missed Miami with a shoulder injury, declined, prompting Davis Cup captain Carsten Arriens to declare Haas would no longer be selected for Davis Cup ties.

Mayer appeared at the federation event despite not playing because of a shoulder injury, saying, "For me, it is a matter of honor."

Kohlschreiber was understood to have told Arriens on Monday that he would miss the event, with Arriens saying, "I cannot understand the decision and find it disappointing."

But Kohlschreiber then announced he would appear, and told media that he had not refused to attend. Tension escalated when the two were present together during the event.

"There was a communication problem because I only tried to say I could not play the exhibition," said Kohlschreiber.

Arriens contradicted the German No. 2, adding that his management had sent a message on Tuesday that Kolschreiber had an elbow injury and would not participate. Kolschreiber, in turn, said he was being blamed because others "want to save their heads, I think."

The captain also said that going forward, he would select younger German players for ties. Kohlschreiber was not selected for this week's tie against Germany, though the captain said it was because he was not fit enough.

German federation chief Karl Georg Altenburg backed Arriens, calling the conflict "kids stuff," but agreeing with the decision to use younger players more often. However, Altenburg has also announced that he will be leaving his post later this year.

France has had its own challenges, with Richard Gasquet withdrawing with a back injury and Gael Monfils suggesting he should not be picked for singles because he has not been able to practice since Miami.
 

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