KEEP DAVIS CUP AS IT IS
Feb 23, 2011, 8:17:37 PM | by
I really can’t figure out the thought process behind certain comments about the Davis Cup format that keep getting resurrected. I go back to my earlier blog which essentially says it’s the tennis world according...
I really can’t figure out the thought process behind certain comments about the Davis Cup format that keep getting resurrected. I go back to my earlier blog which essentially says it’s the tennis world according to some American writers and tennis administrators. There have been plenty of calls for the format of Davis Cup to be changed. Instead of the home and away format four times a year, there is a vocal minority saying it should be a two week event held in one place. It’s a philosophy that comes essentially from the USA. Why does Davis Cup need to change its format? There have been changes to some degree since its inception in 1900 when American Dwight Davis donated the Cup for competition between the USA and Great Britain. One such example was the elimination of the Challenge Round and another was the advent of the World Group in 1981 which gives it more definition. The Davis Cup cannot and should not be compared to any other event in tennis however Jim Courier suggested that. He said: “I think it's pretty clear that the Davis Cup was created in 1900. The other majors haven't been around for much longer than that. But I think it's fair to say that the US Open and Wimbledon and the Australian Open and Roland Garros all are more powerful and more prominent than Davis Cup, and I think there's a pretty obvious way to make that not the case, which is to match up with a two-week blockbuster event in one location that you guys would be able to cover, TV could cover, the fans could understand it.” How can you compare the events? It’s like comparing apples to oranges. The four majors are all individual events whereas the Davis Cup is a team event played between nations. People are only looking at the small picture and what is going to suit their own agenda with almost all the rhetoric coming from the USA. The big picture needs to be looked at. This year 128 nations will be playing in the Davis Cup stretching from the prestigious World Group through to the various zonal ties. The national federations make most of their money through Davis Cup and its funds like that which help to develop the grass roots level of the sport in an effort to build it up. The ITF, which oversees the Davis Cup competition, is the only global tennis organisation that funds the grass roots of tennis and the development of the sport. That’s part of their role. The home and away concept allows the event to be seen live in so many more countries - 64 nations will host Davis Cup ties in the first round, nine of them are in the World Group. Under the concept of a two week event at least 15 nations in the World Group will miss out on the potential of hosting a Davis Cup tie because only one city will see the event played live. Allow me to provide an example. There is an event called the World Team Cup. It’s played in Germany and it is a lovely event with great people running the tournament. The WTC brings eight nations together in a round robin team format over one week yet it lacks big name players; Nadal, Federer, Djokovic, Murray have not played … and it’s an event indirectly owned by the players through the ATP World Tour. In Dusseldorf it’s a great success at the club in which it is played; unfortunately everywhere else it is overlooked. That’s what will happen if there is a change with Davis Cup. Coverage will dwindle as nations lose. Let’s say for the case of the argument, it was played in the USA and the American team loses before the semis, the crowds are not going to be there at the end. Even now at the four majors we see media leaving when all the players from their nation are out of the event. The USA has only been in the final of the Davis Cup three times in the last 15 years and won it once in that time, but that doesn’t mean there is something wrong with the competition. The celebrations in Belgrade last year when Serbia won were beyond belief. The previous year in Spain was amazing and in 2008 when Argentina lost the home final to Spain the whole country seemed to be in mourning. Davis Cup is a national event for nations and it is the home and away format which does that. There is a great feeling of pride and passion to be given the rare opportunity to play before your own countrymen. To change anything would be taking away the essence of the competition and taking away its uniqueness. If that were to happen it would become just another competition.