Time has come for the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas 2014 quarterfinals. With a chauvinistic public, captains on the courts and identical shirt for players of the same team, the great curiosity of this competition remains the doubles event. WeAreTennis magazine has decided to go back to ten stories of doubles team that have marked the most prestigious competition. For better or worse.
1/ Ilie Nastase & Ion Tiriac (Romania)
With 27 victories in in 34 matches, the Romanians Ilie Nastase and Ion Tiriac have spared no effort in the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas, reaching the final in 1969, 1971 and 1972. No victory, but a specialty: destabilizing their opponents by clowning around or using intimidation, playing with the public and the officials. In the final of 1972, in Bucharest, the Americans Smith and Van Dillen deserved praise for winning their match without giving in to provocations. "I have lost all the esteem I had for you. I still respect you as a player, but I don't respect you as a man anymore" said Smith after the match. Van Dillen wondered: "Here, I've always thought that the audience wasn't encouraging us enough. Now I wonder if I still want them to."
2/ Nicola Pietrangeli & Orlando Sirola (Italy)
The Italian team has a statistical ogre in its archives. His name? Nicola Pietrangeli clay specialist in the 1950s and 1960s, regarded by many as the greatest Italian player of all time, and who holds a number of records in Davis Cup by BNP Paribas: the greatest number of matches played - or 164 between 1954 and 1968 - as well as the record for victories in singles (78), the record for victories in doubles (42) and the record of the most decisive doubles (34) with Orlando Sirola. However, he has never won the event, failing twice in final against Australia. Very Bad Trip.
3/ Henri Cochet & Jacques Brugnon (France)
The "Four Musketeers". This was the nickname given to the France team six times successful in Davis Cup by BNP Paribas between 1927 and 1932, and composed of Jean Borotra, Jacques Brugnon, Henri Cochet and Rene Lacoste. A nickname that refers to the novel The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas, because of the aesthetics of the French tennis game, evoking swordplay and conquering spirit, both in singles and doubles. If the captain Pierre Guillou tested all combinations - Borotra-Brugnon, Borotra-Cochet - and the most elegant and efficient of all: Brugnon-Cochet. "France had a lot of talents and therefore many possible combinations making it the best doubles team in the world, remembers one day the American Bill Tilden, the first victim of the Frenchies hegemony. « The Davis Cup is a great tournament, but playing against the French is mental torture. When I was facing them, I suffered like the damned for weeks.»
4/ Frank Sedgman & Ken McGregor (Australia)
"One day, I got really tired of seeing the Americans getting all the trophies, drink the best champagne and kiss the prettiest girls." On the other side of the ocean, in the distant Australia, Harry Hopman, paternalistic coach and former journalist, can boast of having destroyed the hegemony of post-war America on world tennis. And founded another empire to his measure: between 1950 and 1967, the Australian Davis Cup by BNP Paribas team won the queen competition of the sport fifteen times. Several generations of players like Ken Rosewall, Rod Laver and Tony Roche, all passed in the hands of Harry Hopman. But nothing would have been possible without Frank Sedgman and Ken McGregor, the first two students of the colon, who won the first three titles of this long winning streak with three decisive doubles in each final (1950, 1951 and 1952). Hopman remembers: « If you must remember only one thing, think of the doubles like marriage: nothing will destroy your union more than a lack of communication. »
5/ John McEnroe & Peter Fleming (USA)
Best doubles team in the world in the early eighties, John McEnroe and Peter Fleming won three editions of the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas (1979, 1981 and 1982), winning fourteen of the fifteen doubles played together in this competition. In the couple, John McEnroe, great singles player, is the only one to have been world number 1 in both disciplines. He incarnates both bad temper and technique virtuoso when Peter was the tactics mind and modesty. "The best doubles teams in the world is John McEnroe and John McEnroe," he once said. A famous punch line that "Big Mac" answered, not without humility: « what I like about Peter is his lucidity. » Today, despite their 50 titles together - including four U.S. Open and three Wimbledon - the two sidekicks have little regard for the practice of modern doubles. Especially McEnroe, who said in 2013 in The Times of London: « When I watch a doubles match, I think: 'But what is this shit?' The level is pathetic; these are only the guys who are too slow and not fast enough to play in singles. We'd better end this category and reinvest the money elsewhere... Wherever you want, but not in women's tennis. »
6/ Stefan Edberg & Anders Järryd (Sweden)
After the United States, the eighties were marked by Sweden: between 1983 and 1989, the national team played seven consecutive Davis Cup finals by BNP Paribas but only won three. In 1984, after Mats Wilander and Henrik Sundström in singles, Järryd Anders and Stefan Edberg became the first - and unique - executioners of the McEnroe/Fleming team that had so far never lost a Davis Cup by BNP Paribas final. How to explain this defeat? According to Captain Arthur Ashe, "McEnroe and Fleming were in deplorable shape. Badly shaven and dishevelled, they looked exhausted and tired." Result: This defeat was the last match of the Americans in this tournament. Not enough to spoil the Swedes' party who, as a celebration, decided to knock on the doors of (almost) all the inhabitants of Stockholm. Henrik Sundström still remembers: "There were lots and lots of champagne."
7/ Guy Forget & Henri Leconte (France)
Eleven victories, zero defeats. The Guy Forget and Henri Leconte team has the rare privilege of being undefeated in the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas. Their masterpiece? To have knocked down, during the final in 1991 against the United States, the experienced team Ken Flach-Seguso Robert, after a wonderful match, combining rational madness and technical brilliance. Henri Leconte: "I had one wish, and it was to smash their head in." The reason? Six years earlier, in the final of the U.S. Open doubles, the same confrontation has resulted in an American victory after many arbitral errors. After the match, Leconte seemed distraught, in his bubble, flabbergasted and probably already preparing his revenge. After the match, Ken Flach argued that, in the future, no one will remember the way, but only the names listed in the charts. The proof that he was wrong...
8/ Gustavo Kuerten & Jaime Oncins (Brazil)
We cannot say that Brazil has really marked the history of the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas. But one thing is for sure, the Brazilian public, and more generally South American public is one of the hottest in the world. Spectators who, during an ordinary doubles in 1996, tried to destabilize the Austrian players Thomas Muster and Udo Plamberger. How? By throwing stones on the court, insulting them and even placing small mirrors in the sun to dazzle them. According to Herman Fuchs, an Austrian journalist, "this is the worst atmosphere I have ever seen. I don't know what would have happened if the game had continued." Indeed, Thomas Muster and Udo Plamberger decided to leave the court for fear of "getting killed." So far, never had a team left the court in full match for security reasons.
9/ Leander Paes & Mahesh Bhupathi (India)
From 1997, two Indian friends were on an amazing series of 23 consecutive victories in doubles and in Davis Cup by BNP Paribas. A mathematical record, always good to take, despite the chaotic end of their collaboration. The reason? In 2012, Leander Paes accept, without flinching, the decision of his federation to find him another partner a few days before the London Olympics. Given the lack of concern of his accomplice and friend, Mahesh Bhupathi saw it like a betrayal. Hurt, he insulted the federation in the press and was quickly suspended two years for "indiscipline". For the rest, "it was like a 'broken heart' that will have to be forgotten soon, said Mahesh. One day, one of my girlfriends told me: 'You like Leander, you are always with him... Did you ever wonder if you were gay?' It is true that I really liked him. To the point of asking myself this question..."
10/ Bob & Mike Bryan (USA)
With 16 victories in the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas, for only two defeats, the twins Bob and Mike Bryan are probably the best American doubles team in the history of the competition, outclassing even the Colin Fleming-John McEnroe team (14 successes). Except that the best result of the two brothers remains a lost final in 2007. And this year won’t be the exception, since the American team had already been eliminated. Nevertheless, "it’s a luxury to have in our ranks a doubles team such as the Bryan brothers, said Jim Courier in 2012 on Eurosport. In my days, we didn’t have any team that could compare to them. It's almost cheating to have such a team available!"