Originally known as The International Tennis Competition, the annual competition began as a tennis battle exclusively between the United States and Great Britain. In 1905 the field was expanded to include France, Austria, Belgium, and Australasia (a combination of Australia and New Zealand). More countries were added over the years; today there are 150 countries participating.
Besides the ever-growing list of countries vying for the Cup, the biggest change in Davis Cup’s format was the abolishment of the Challenge Round in 1972. Previous to that a year-ending championship team sat out the subsequent year’s competition until a challenger emerged from the knockout rounds, and then played only the one, final round against that team.
The current structure (introduced in 1981):
- A top level, named World Cup, consisting of 16 countries’ teams, plays directly for the Cup via a knockout format determined by draw. The four rounds of play take place over 4 weekends during the course of a year, beginning just after the Australian Open in January. The finals are played in November.
- The remaining nations are split into lower tiers.
- All tiers, including World Group, have promotion and relegation rules that give teams annual chances to move up, or down.
- Team matches (called “ties”) are held on a home/away basis, with the location determined by a formula that considers the teams’ individual won/loss records.
- The hosting/home team gets to choose the court surface.
As has been the case since the Cup’s inception, each team match consists of an opening day’s singles on Friday, a second day’s doubles match on Saturday, and a third day’s singles matches on Sunday, with the first day’s players going against whomever they did not play on Friday.
All matches are best of 5 sets, and clearly a team needs to win 3 matches to win the weekend’s contest. If either of Sunday’s singles matches are made redundant because a team has already won 3 matches, those match(es) are reduced to best of 3 sets.
‘There was lots of shouting during points and (the Italian fans) started throwing coins”
– UK team member Buster Mottram, on his 1978 Davis Cup match vs Adriana Panatta in Rome
The new proposed format:
- The establishment of a season-ending World Cup of Tennis Finals (WCTF) that crowns the Davis Cup champions.
- The WCTF is played at a neutral site, chosen well ahead of time, and lasts 7 days.
- 16 countries go to the WCTF based on their performance to
- date, similar to the current World Group. These 16 countries, plus 2 that are selected by the ITF, are placed into 6 round robin groups of three teams each.
- The 6 winners of the round robin groups, plus the two teams with the best losing records, are fed into a quarterfinal knockout tournament.
- The winner of the knockout rounds is the year’s Davis Cup championship team.
- All team competitions consist of 2 singles matches and 1 doubles match, all matches are best of 3 sets.
- Promotion/relegation rules will again be in place, giving national teams not part of one year’s WCTF to gain entry in following years.
Gerard Pique’s Pessimistic Davis Cup Outlook Blasted By French Tennis Star
The football player has been urged to ‘put more energy’ in finding a solution for the event to take place in 2020.
Kosmos founder Gerard Pique has come under fire over his plans for the Davis Cup Finals later this year after recently casting doubt on the event taking place due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Pique, whose company helped finance the transformation of the 120-year-old team competition, recently admitted that he was doubtful that the event could go ahead if crowds weren’t allowed to attend. Last year was the first time the new format of the competition took place with 18 teams featuring in a week-long round-robin tournament which was won by host nation Spain.
“I’m a bit pessimistic, to have the Davis Cup with no fans is difficult,” Pique told Movistar.
“There is a lot of uncertainty. We are listening to what the sport’s ministry and the government are telling us about whether we’ll have the ability to have fans.”
All professional tennis tournaments have been suspended since March due to the Pandemic. Officials are hoping to be able to get the sport going again in August ahead of the US Open that is scheduled to take place. Although some have doubts about the chances of the Tour’s starting by then, including world No.43 John Millman.
Amid the ongoing uncertainty, French tennis star Nicolas Mahut has criticized Pique’s bleak outlook for this year’s Davis Cup finale. The 38-year-old has represented his country in 13 ties, including the 2018 final as well as the semifinals in two other years.
“We don’t have a lot of information. But as a player, you can just trust the official statements. And when I hear Pique, I’m extremely disappointed,” Mahut told L’Equipe.
Mahut has called on Pique to explore more options such as potentially relocating the event to another country if it would make it safer for the event to go ahead. Implying that he was his duty to do so after setting ‘to destroy the formula’ of the event. Critics of the revamp have accused Pique of ruining the traditional competition.
“I would like him to put as much energy into saving the Davis Cup that he has set up. That is to say, to find solutions for it to take place in Madrid or elsewhere, as he has set to destroy the formula that had been in place for over a hundred years,” he said,
“The message he sent through his statements, is: ” If Madrid is complicated and we cannot do it, well it cancels and I save some money. ” And it bothers me a lot compared to what has happened for more than a year. We don’t play with this competition. Maybe that suits it.”
Kosmos has signed a $3 billion 25-year deal with the ITF to acquire the rights for the Davis Cup Finals.
Davis Cup Finals In Doubt, Admits Gerard Pique
The Kosmos founder explains why he isn’t too optimistic about the team event going ahead later this year.
The chances of this year’s Davis Cup Finals taking place are still up in the air with one of the key figures involved in the competition openly saying that he is ‘pessimistic’ about its chances.
Football star Gerard Pique is one the driving forces behind the new format following a huge financial investment from his company Kosmos. Signing a 25-year deal with the International Tennis Federation worth in the region of $3 billion. Despite the significant investment, Pique admits that he has low hopes of the event taking place later this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. All professional tennis tournaments have been halted since March.
“There is a lot of uncertainty, we try to be aware of what the government says regarding sports and to whether we can put spectators inside the Caja Magica,” Pique said during an interview with Movistar.
“I would say I am a bit pessimistic, because a Davis Cup without fans is difficult.
“I think that nobody at the moment has the certainty that we can put fans in or if it will have to be behind closed doors. As the days go by, I suppose we will have a little more clarity.”
Spain is currently in the process of relaxing some of their lockdown restrictions with tennis players being able to train at local facilities from next week. The country is following a four-stage plan with the hope that their premier La Liga football league will resume next month at some stage.
However, the issue for the Davis Cup is the limited number of fans that would be able to go to the tournament if it takes place. In more advanced stages of the plans, no more than 50 people can attend an indoor venue. Although the number could be increased by November, it will be a stark difference to 2019. Held at the Caja Magica, the total capacity of the premier court is 12,500 people.
Last year’s final saw Spain lift the title for the first time since 2011 after they defeated Canada in the final. The two teams are seeded third and sixth in this year’s draw.
The Davis Cup is scheduled to take place between November 23-29 in Madrid. The ATP, WTA and ITF will not restart their Tour’s until at least July 13th, however, there is speculation that the suspension will be extended in the coming weeks.
Spain to face Russia and Ecuador in Davis Cup Finals next November
The draw of the 2020 Davis Cup Finals in Madrid took place at the ITF offices in London on 12th March. The Davis Cup Finals will begin in Madrid on 23rd November 2020.
Defending champions Spain has been drawn in the Group A against Russia and Ecuador. Last year Rafael Nadal guided the Spanish team to the triumph in the final against Canada at the Caja Magica.
This year’s ATP Cup champions Serbia will face Germany and Austria in a Group A, which features three top 10 players Novak Djokovic, Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev. Djokovic beat Thiem in this year’s final of the Australian Open.
In the Group E the USA will take on Italy in a re-match of last year’s late round-robin match. These two teams were drawn against Colombia.Last year’s finalists Canada will meet Sweden and Kazakhstan.
Three former Davis Cup champions France, Great Britain and Czech Republic have been drawn in Group C.
Croatia will clash against Australia and Hungary in Group D.
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