Russia, the US get to war in tennis duel

Written by By Staff Writer

CNN’s Ben Brumfield reports from Moscow on the rivalry between Vladimir Putin and the US team.

CNN’s Ben Brumfield reports from Moscow on the rivalry between Vladimir Putin and the US team.

(CNN) – A tug-of-war between the two world powers is set to start in Moscow as the United States takes on Russia in the semi-finals of the Billie Jean King Cup.

The team clash, which comes just days after President Donald Trump tweeted about the country, involves multiple professional sports stars including tennis world number one Andy Murray and number five John Isner, as well as the country’s hockey and swimming teams.

Both sports have been major sources of tension between Moscow and Washington since the 1960s — with a special focus on swimming, with former USA Swimming official Richard Fiel telling Time magazine in 2013 that the country’s leadership believed Soviet swimmers were “more patriotic than any Americans.”

That’s not the only clash: Putin and Trump have discussed their politics — and mutual enmity with the US — in dinner parties in recent weeks, although the US leader has claimed to have never met the Russian president.

Tensions have continued to simmer as a result, with recent developments adding fuel to the fire.

Earlier this week, Russian soldiers planted a flag on Ukrainian soil during the Azov Sea military exercises, prompting Ukrainian authorities to impose sanctions on a number of Russian state companies, as well as banning all Russian tourists from visiting the country.

On Friday, the US stated that it was suspending participation in the G7 Summit in Charlevoix, Canada over sanctions.

In the tennis battle, the United States will hope that new world number one Alexander Zverev will come up against the former US President Bill Clinton in the men’s doubles match, an event that marks the 50th anniversary of his famous and historic Wimbledon victory, against Boris Becker.

It will be followed by a women’s singles semi-final between former world number one Maria Sharapova and American Ashley Barthel.

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