The Davis Cup has been a staple of the tennis calendar for over a hundred years. It has the history, the prestige and the tradition. At the top tier of Davis Cup teams compete in a knockout format beginning early in the season culminating in November. What was unique and indeed very special about the Davis Cup were the home and away ties. Packed stadia, filled with screaming fans, draped in their team’s colours. It made for an incredible atmosphere. Many top players would schedule their tournaments around the Davis Cup weekends such was the importance of playing well for your country.
2019 is a year of massive change for the event. The Davis Cup has made the decision to radical change the format of the event. Gone are the home and away ties, gone is all that tradition associated with the longest running annual team sports event. This year Madrid will host the 2019 event and it will take place in La Caja Mágica. 18 teams will battle through the group stages for a place in the quarter-finals and the knockout stages. Sometimes change can be a good thing despite all those naysayers who say otherwise.
This year the Davis Cup falls at the end of a busy tennis season. Despite this, the inaugural event will feature some of the biggest names in the sport. Guys like Novak Djokovic leading Serbia, Rafael Nadal in a home Davis Cup and even the resurgent Andy Murray the figurehead for GB. There are 18 teams that are dreaming of Davis Cup glory but how many are actual contenders to lifting the title? Future guessings are already taking place by those wishing to take a longer view, and sites like Foxbet are already offering fans the possibility of placing wagers on which country will win the Cup. Many will fancy Spain being at home in Madrid to go well but who could discount any team with Djokovic in it? Canada also have an exciting team with Shapovalov, Felix Auger Aliassime, Pospisil, and Raonic could they be outsiders?
The Davis Cup is almost on a par with the grand slam titles on the ATP tennis tour. Rafael Nadal who has won the Davis Cup 4 times so far is his career is so proud and passionate to represent his country. When asked about the Davis Cup at the Nitto ATP World Tour Finals, it was clear to see how much a home event meant to him. Despite having lifted the huge trophy four times of course he wants more. The indoor hard court of La Caja Mágica may not be Nadal’s favored surface but he always gives his best and with the Madrid crowd roaring them on then Spain could win.
Will the new format work?
We are now into the off season for many tennis players with the exception of those that were in the ATP World Tour Finals in London. A time when players go a little crazy, upload their adventures to the gram; a time when players can goof around and enjoy themselves before they return to the rigours of preseason training. This is not the ideal time to host an 18 team event. Players are tired and leggy and for many years have complained about the duration of the tennis season.
Fatigue may factor into some matches. How can it not? If we consider some of the results we have seen over the years at the World Tour Finals. Many have been quite one-sided and as a result fans have felt short-changed. Will that happen in Davis Cup? Perhaps for those teams that go deep and will need to play 5 matches in total to lift the trophy fatigue may play a factor.
Rivaling the Laver Cup and ATP Cup
Within a matter of weeks, the ATP Cup will begin in Australia. The Laver Cup has claimed its place in a congested calendar too. That is quite a lot of team events to fit into an already packed calendar. The Davis fighting hard for its spot too. Perhaps a little creative thinking might help the players and fans. Could we see a combined event in the future in a better time of the season? Time will tell. One thing for sure is that the Davis Cup is not going to go away. Too much money and time has been invested in revamping the event. The one venue, one week format may take a little tweaking but long-term it is here to stay.