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07 Feb 2018

The Davis Cup: Why it remains essential

(Photo credit: Roman Boed)

The Davis Cup is a very polarizing competition in the tennis world. Some fans embrace the chance to see players battle it out for their country whilst others think it is a waste of time and just another of the many tournaments on the tennis calendar. I am a passionate supporter of Davis Cup Tennis and believe it must continue to be a relevant part of the tennis season. However, changes have to be made to make it more accessible to players.

Bringing tennis to the fans

I've got a personal experience of the Davis Cup. Growing up as a tennis fan in Scotland, there is little chance to watch world class tennis in person as Scotland doesn't host any ATP or WTA tournaments. However, over the years Glasgow has been chosen to host Davis Cup ties including two semi-finals in 2015 and 2016 against Australia and Argentina. This was incredible as it gave Scottish tennis fans the chance to watch world class tennis with the likes of the Murray brothers and Juan Martin del Potro in action. This promotes the sport and acts as an inspiration to the next generation of players.  It gets more people into the game. 

Besides this,  the Davis Cup can help a player and give them the confidence to progress in their career. Most notably, Novak Djokovic credits winning the competition with Serbia in 2010 as being the catalyst for his record-breaking 2011 season where he won three of the four Grand Slams and cemented his name in tennis history. It's also seen relatively unknown players shine under the spotlight, a prime example being James Ward who played well above his ranking in defeating Sam Querrey and John Isner. 

More recently over the weekend Cameron Norrie was able to come back from two sets and a breakdown to defeat Roberto Bautista Agut in five sets. These players have the chance to train side by side with other great players from their country and this experience can be invaluable to young inexperienced players. The team atmosphere means a more raucous atmosphere in the stadiums which fires up the players and makes a nice change from the atmosphere in some venues on the tour.

A prestigious history

However, perhaps the most important reason that the Davis Cup must be kept is that it has a been a massive influence in the history of the game.Founded in 1900, it has been played by the legends of the sport such as Rod Laver, Roy Emerson and John McEnroe in front of packed out stadiums. Legendary Australian captain Harry Hopman won the competition 16 times. Throughout the 20th century, it had a huge presence and influence on the game that must not be forgotten. To do so would be a discourtesy to the greats of the game.

Admittedly, the current situation is not ideal surrounding the Davis Cup. Players are put off by the best of five set matches and the potential of having to play three matches in three days in what is already a packed schedule. Also, because the Davis Cup is an International Tennis Federation event (ITF) event, there are no ranking points available for Davis Cup matches. However, these problems are easily solvable. Matches could be played over best of three sets instead of best of five. Also, an agreement between the ATP and the ITF could be reached where Davis Cup matches could be given ranking points.

Another argument that could be made is whether the Davis Cup could take priority over ATP 250 events. With players already complaining about the length of the season, surely there is no need to add more tournaments to the calendar. The Davis Cup has a long history of great competition, excellent matches and moments of glory for unheralded players. That should be remembered.

What do you think the future holds for the Davis Cup? Let us know in the comments below!