In recent weeks there has been a view that Davis Cup by BNP Paribas can’t be compared to Ryder Cup, pretty much suggesting Davis Cup was a lesser event. What is it about so many people with a connection to tennis...
In recent weeks there has been a view that Davis Cup by BNP Paribas can’t be compared to Ryder Cup, pretty much suggesting Davis Cup was a lesser event. What is it about so many people with a connection to tennis that they feel the sport has to be compared to other sports? Why is it so often observers of tennis appear to have a chip on their shoulder? You have the clothing manufacturers trying to make players look like basketballers (as awful as those outfits are) or so-called observers comparing tennis to the competition of another sport, for example golf. Tennis stands on its own and the sooner people realise that and support it that way the better for tennis. There is nothing wrong with tennis or the global team events it promotes. It’s great for golf that it has the Ryder Cup. Congratulations on its massive success, good luck to it. Tennis is NOT golf. Tennis is not the sport one of the great authors in the English language, Mark Twain, described as a “good walk spoiled”. The topic of the Ryder Cup is in discussion right now because it has just happened, but how many people outside golf were talking about it the last 18 months? Davis Cup by BNP Paribas is spoken about every year, because it is an annual event, which can only be good for the sport. It is the world’s biggest annual team competition. Davis Cup is a truly global competition unlike the Ryder Cup which is concentrated across just two continents. In fact let’s take that further. Tennis as a whole is a more together sport than golf which is disjointed with its numerous tours where you get one player from the European tour has to get his card to be able to play in North America and the different prize money listings and goodness what else. There is nothing like that in tennis. A player can play anywhere if their ranking is high enough without any special requirements. There is one ranking, and it’s an annual ranking not a biennial ranking that people lose track over and it is one tour. It is all so easy to criticise tennis and the format that the team events have but no one wants to look at the bigger picture. It’s been written that if you ask the players they will say they want Davis Cup etc played this way and not that. Ask six players the same question and you will get five different answers. I love the players and their personalities and their abilities and their talent but for them it's about numero uno. The players say they love to play for their nations well that’s what Davis Cup and Fed Cup by BNP Paribas are all about. Isn’t it? Davis Cup by BNP Paribas is a stunning competition. Nothing compares to it for excitement and atmosphere and of course national pride. To have been at Parque Roca when the Argentines hosted the Czechs was truly memorable. I’m not for one minute saying there is a lack of atmosphere at the Ryder Cup, not at all, but can the European team genuinely talk about national pride? They are not playing for their nations; they are playing for a continent. Rory McIlroy was draped with an European Union flag, not the Union Jack, the flag of his nation. What about the numerous other countries missing out? Why should they not be able to field a player in the Ryder Cup? Oh you say there is the President’s Cup. Okay then the argument here is why should the USA have two bites of the cherry? They are involved in both events and even then the rest of the world as is the opposition is not truly represented. Golf needs two events to try, just try, to spread the gospel. The President’s Cup was like a stop-gap. Tennis with the Davis Cup has one truly global event and an event that can be spoken about every year, not just once every two years. As I said before, it is very easy to criticise Davis Cup or Fed Cup and say things should be handled like the Ryder Cup but not one person who has criticised the event has come up with a legitimate format that makes economic sense and which covers as much of the world as Davis and Fed Cups do. Why should the smaller nations be forgotten? Consider the dozens and dozens of national federations around the world that depend on the funding Davis Cup generates to keep them afloat or to be able to use the funds to develop the sport at a grassroots level or even pay players. So much of that would be lost. Then there is the annual global sponsorship of the competition as well. Brands are there because of the annual global exposure they get otherwise they would be looking elsewhere to get their money’s worth and if they leave, one thing would suffer, and that is tennis.