The Davis Cup finals in 15 stories

Nov 19, 2014, 3:44:19 PM

The Davis Cup finals in 15 stories
Each Davis Cup by BNP Paribas has its own story, made of cheap shots, public humiliations, heated exchanges or weak bodies. On the occasion of the France-Switzerland final this weekend, WAT selected the best stories.

Each Davis Cup by BNP Paribas has its own story. Pell-mell, cheap shots in Bucharest, public humiliations in Barcelona, heated exchanges in Cincinnati or weak bodies suddenly resurrected in Lyon. On the occasion of the France-Switzerland final this weekend, WAT selected the best stories of the modern era…


1972 – USA/Romania 3-2 (Bucharest)


"A monument of anti-sportsmanship." "The Davis Cup has reminded us of the darkest hours of the European Football Championship." Little press review of a weekend during which the two tricksters Nastase Tiriac almost magnified fouls, constantly exciting the crowd before taking five minutes off between two points, waiting for people to calm down. Unbelievable, but true. The Americans left victorious but shocked and Tiriac was suspended two months.


1977 - Australia/Italy 3-1 (Sydney)


3-1 for Australia, which says it all, but Tony Roche and Corrado Barazzutti had to play a final match for peanuts and for the public. Thanks to nightfall, the joke ended at 12 games all in the first set! Obviously the next day, nobody found it useful to continue, so it ended up to be the only "draw" ever seen in a final.


1978 – USA/UK 4-1 (Rancho Mirage)


18°C were expected on the court that weekend. It wasn't much, but you would have needed to go to Northern Scotland to be even colder than on that day of December 1978 in Rancho Mirage, California. The final was played outdoor, odd choice, where on the Friday, Brian Gottfried and Christopher Mottran finished their second singles by an almost freezing 4°C...


1980 – Czechoslovakia/Italy 4-1 (Prague)


2000 tifosis at the beginning of the first game, 1999 at the end. The missing supporter was none other than the brother of a Communist deputy, accused of insulting a security officer and expelled by force (8 stitches). At the time, the Italians refused to resume the match, which had to be interrupted for 40 minutes. They then ignored the closing ceremony and their embassy asked for an official explanation. We saw wars start for much less than that.


1981 – USA/Argentina 3-1 (Cincinnati)


11-9 in the fifth set for McEnroe and Fleming, who thought that they could defeat Vilas and Clerc in three small sets. Consequences: Apocalypse of insults and tensions; a brawl narrowly avoided; the President of the International Federation Philippe Chatrier leaving his executive box; John McEnroe insulting his own captain and finishing the day with a statement became legendary: "I really wanted to win, for me it was a question of superiority of the United States on Argentina."


1984 – Sweden/USA 4-1 (Goteborg)


Not into it, somewhat annoyed at having to play on clay a few days before Christmas Day, Jimmy Connors almost had the US team disqualified during his match against Mats Wilander on the Friday. By treating the umpire of "asshole" and "fucking fagot", Jimbo had nevertheless worked hard...


1989 – RFA/Sweden 3-2 (Stuttgart)


Easy question: when could East Germans see for the first time a tennis game live on TV? Just after the fall of the Berlin Wall, of course, and it was for another victory of the Boris Becker crew. It was also the first edition to use decisive games to end sets, more than 15 years after the other tournaments of the tour.


1992 – USA/Switzerland 3-1 (Fort Worth)


The Swiss may be neutral; they still have the right to get mad at each other like everyone else. In 1992, the Swiss team changed its captain between the semi-final and the final following a big internal crisis, Dimitri Sturdza taking the job off the cuff to replace Roland Stadler who had just resigned. It happened only once.


1994 – Sweden/Russia 4-1 (Moscow)


First day, 5-4 in the fifth set for Alexander Volkov against Stefan Edberg. Match point. Edberg saved it and came back to 5 all. This was the moment chosen by Boris Yeltsin, to make one of his best sketches, and tumble down in the stands not very discreetly. After one minute of interruption, the time for the Russian President to salute his neighbour Juan Antonio Samaranch, Edberg only had to touch one ball to finish a liquefied Volkov. "I don't think that it's very reasonable to enter the court at 5-5 in the fifth set. It was stupid to cause an interruption at that time!" said Yevgeny Kafelnikov after the match.


1999 – Australia/France (Nice)


Efficient doesn't mean indisputable. On the Saturday, the tables of the doubles only turned when Australian captain John Newcombe started to yell at the Woodies, Woodbridge and Woodforde, led 6-2 and 5-3 by Santoro and Delaitre "You are two big pieces of shit!" Salutary electroshock for the Australians, who pulled themselves together and won in four sets:" It was so horrible to hear John talk to us this way that we managed to stop making the mistakes that he criticized us for."


2001 – France/Australia 3-2 (Melbourne)


By removing the sod specifically installed for the match on the cement of the Rod Laver Arena, the cleaners made a lovely discovery. A tiger snake, venomous, had spent the week hanging out under the shoes of the finalists. Better to find it once the party was over, right?


2003 – Australia/Spain 3-1 (Melbourne)


A blunder even before the first balls: while the Spaniards thought that they would enter the court on the sound of the Marcha Real, someone played them an old hymn from their Second Republic. The Secretary of State for Sport, Ambassador and President of the Federation left the arena very upset, forcing the Australian captain John Fitzgerald to take the microphone and apologize.


2004 – Spain/USA 3-2 (Seville)


With 26 600 people in the Olympic Stadium in Seville, never an official tennis match had so many spectators. A record that should fall this weekend, during the final France/Switzerland.


2008 – Spain/Argentina 3-1 (Mar Del Plata)


Bawdy humour and euphoria before the match, when Juan Martin Del Potro announced on television that he wanted to remove Rafael Nadal's "pants from his arse". But then nothing went as planned: injured, the Spanish star didn't even come, as for the Argentine team, it would be torn apart behind the scenes, Nalbandian and Calleri indeed had a fight in the dressing room after their defeat in doubles.


2013 – Czech Republic/Serbia (Belgrade)


Hero of the 2010 final, Viktor Troicki became undesirable at the Beogradska Arena as a result of his one-year suspension for refusing to submit to a drug test. He was having dinner every night with the team, but nothing more. "I am treated like the worst of criminals. The ITF has even ordered to put my picture at the entrance to the stadium gates so people recognize me if I ever wanted to come!"


By Julien Pichené and Victor Le Grand