Finland’s tennis players are on top form on a wide front – in autumn, the world’s top countries will be seriously challenged in the Davis Cup

Finlands tennis players are on top form on a wide

In September, Finnish tennis players will play for the first time among the world’s 16 best countries in the Davis Cup final tournament. The blocks were drawn yesterday. Finland will meet Croatia, the Netherlands and the United States in a city in Croatia to be announced later.

The situation in Finland looks good in the sense that all the main players of the national team have shown great performances recently. They form the body of the national team Emil Ruusuvuori, Harri Heliövaara, Otto Virtanen and Patrik Niklas-Salminen.

Having established himself at the ATP level, Ruusuvuuori’s early season was a bit tight, but in the US Masters the game went excellently. In Indian Wells, Ruusuvuori advanced to the third round, where he narrowly lost to the superstar Alexander Zverev.

There was a real buzz in Miami. The Helsinki native reached the quarterfinals for the first time at the Masters level. The Finns were the last to reach the equivalent Jarkko Nieminen ten years ago. According to Nieminen, who is now the Davis Cup captain, Ruusuvuori has been in a really tough fight.

– I have felt for a long time that taking the next step is up to the little ones. It has been noticeable in games and practices. I follow Emil’s career closely and I know that he works for the right things. It’s great that he’s now shown it game after game. There has been a touch more versatility, Nieminen told Urheilu.

With these prospects, Ruusuvuori will rise to its record ranking of 37th on the list that will be published on Monday.

Harri Heliövaara forms by Lloyd Glasspool with one of the absolute top pairs in the world in doubles. Victory against all pairs is completely possible and in all tournaments the duo is among the champion candidates.

– We saw a great development from them already last year, It feels like they are more mature and ready to win big tournaments, Nieminen stated.

Virtanen has gained stability

Finland’s second-ranked singles player Otto Virtanen has continued his strong rise in the world rankings. Virtanen followed up his victory in the tough challenger tournament in Bergamo last fall, and won another similar one in Lugano in March. The hard-serving Virtanen has also been able to experiment in the qualifiers for the ATP Championships and the Australian Open. The ranking already shows place 139.

– He has gained consistency and his weakest day’s game has improved. Has played a degree more maturely. Although there have been challenging moments in the matches, he has been able to find ways to win.

Patrik Niklas-Salminen’s transition to a fours player has been a successful solution. Together with the Dutch Bart Stevens with the duo has made a strong impression on the challenger tour. Already during the beginning of the year, they have been to the finals four times, of which they have won one. Niklas-Salminen’s doubles ranking is currently around 100 and was already ranked 98.

– He has made a huge development in a short time, when he started to specialize in doubles, Nieminen said.

Niklas-Salminen has also made it to the ATP championships as a pair of Ruusuvuuori. In Doha, there was a really hard victory over Croatia’s top couple Nikola Mektic/Mate Pavic. That’s perhaps a small display for Croatia with an eye on the Davis Cup. Their star pair fell even without Finland’s number one fours player.

Niklas-Salminen’s development makes it possible for him to play doubles with Heliövaara in the Davis Cup, allowing Ruusuvuori to focus on singles. When Finland secured a place in the final tournament by beating Argentina, the duo Heliövaara/Ruusuvuori still played in the doubles, but even then another option was already under consideration.

– Then the decision went to the previous evening. During the week, Heliövaara and Niklas-Salminen trained together. It was a conscious risk that Emil played doubles and singles consecutively, Now it worked, but in the long run it is not a sustainable solution. The development of the team would require that we get different players in singles and doubles.

The opponents are tough, but beatable

Nieminen considers Finland’s chances of advancing to the final stage to the top eight in Malaga in November to be realistic.

– I already said in Espoo after the victory against Argentina that we will start with good confidence to win all the matches. Now many players have taken further steps forward.

– I got a really good feeling from the block. A consistently strong block. All have tough foursomes. There are no others left but fierce opponents.

Croatia’s clear top two is Borna Coric and Marin Cilicwho are ranked 20 and 22 in the world rankings. In doubles, they have the aforementioned pair Mektic/Pavic, who are, among other things, Wimbledon champions and Olympic winners.

Croatia has won the Davis Cup twice, in 2005 and 2018.

– Croatia has strong traditions. It will certainly be a tough opponent on their home field, Nieminen stated.

Holland’s number one player is ranked 32nd in the world Botic van de Zandschulpwhich Ruusuvuori just won in Miami.

– It was a great twist. The Davis Cup is of course many months away and they might have time to meet again, but it doesn’t hurt that Emil now took a small mental advantage, Nieminen stated.

The United States is historically a big tennis power. It has had leaner times in recent years, but now has a large group of good, young players. They are in the top 20 Taylor Fritz, Frances Tiafoe and Tommy Paul. There are a total of nine Americans in the top 50.

– If you look at the draw baskets, Croatia was a good draw for the first basket and Holland for the second basket, but the USA is really tough for the third basket. It’s the team that has gotten the most depth in the last six months. The Australian Open was really strong for many, Nieminen said.

Preliminary blocks of the Davis Cup final tournament (September 12-17)

Group A, Bologna


Group B, Manchester

Great Britain

Group C, Valencia

South Korea

Group D, Croatia


The two best countries in the groups advance to the final round of the eight best countries, which will be played in Malaga on November 21-26.