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Is the new Davis Cup a success?

by Tennisnerd

Spain won the first edition of the new Davis Cup after some amazing performances, especially by Rafa Nadal. But is the new Davis Cup a success?

The new Davis Cup was played over a week in Caja Magica in Madrid from the 18th until 24th November. Home nation Spain won the final against Canada 2-0. The ties were played in best of three matches with two singles and one doubles match. The doubles could either decide the tie or be a “dead rubber”.

In 2018, Kosmos Group (a sports investment company founded by footballer Gerard Piquet) agreed with the International Tennis Federation to invest three billion dollars over 25 years in the Davis Cup. The investment came with the idea to make the tournament more “media and international audience-friendly” by shortening it and completely revamping the old format with home and away ties all throughout the year.

Are you for or against the new Davis Cup?

As most tennis fans know, the changes have not been received lightly by most tennis fans. Many players and federations have been critical while others have been reservedly positive. For the ITF, the Davis Cup was not a money-making machine, to put it mildly, so the investment must have seemed like a godsend. That a football player such as Pique, takes an active interest in one of the most legendary tournaments in tennis, has also gotten a mixed reception. Does he know what he is doing? Does he really care about tennis? And so on.

Despite all the strong criticism, the tournament seemed to have gone down somewhat positively. But there are many things to consider for upcoming editions if they want to turn the Davis Cup into a real “World Team Championships of Tennis” which is the ambition according to Pique and Kosmos Group.

Pros and Cons of the new Davis Cup

The new format clearly presents some benefits and challenges. Keen to hear your opinions in the comments below.

Pros

+ Doing it over a shorter time span will make it easier to create interest for the media, but also for people who don’t have a stake in a certain nation winning.
+ The tournament needed money. Now it has money.
+ I personally like that a match is finished in one day. Three rubbers with a finishing doubles match are much more interesting. Tennis needs to become more media-friendly for its own good.

Cons

– One week is a bit too short. If it is a world cup of tennis, it should be at least two weeks. (Does it have to be every year? Maybe every other year would give it more impact?)
– Having it in the same location two years in a row is not a smart choice (it will be in Spain also next year). Too much of a home advantage for Spain in this case.
– There were a lot of issues with the app, the scheduling and some matches were played in front of half-empty stands. These are hopefully teething problems, but need to be taken into consideration for next year.

Closing Thoughts

The Davis Cup is one of the strongest brands and traditions in tennis and giving it such a drastic makeover was a gutsy move. But I think times change and the tournament has not been thriving in the old format. It has just been moving too slow and there are only really two nations invested in a tie. The tournament needed reform. This was perhaps a little bit too much in a short period of time, but at least there is a possibility to take in the feedback and tweak it for next year. I don’t think it is impossible to make the new format into a “World Cup” of team tennis, but it definitely needs some time and work. Luckily the money and the belief are there. Now we just need all the key players on board and the crowds to get used to the new format.

Hopefully, we will already see a large step in the right direction already in 2020.

PS. I really think the ATP Cup and the Davis Cup needs to merge. The tennis calendar is already packed as it is and the current situation with two large team tournaments is very confusing and not good for media or the tennis audience. DS.

What do you think?

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5 comments

Eduardo Gavira Crespillo December 3, 2019 - 12:37 pm

First above, for Spanish Davis Cup team isn’t an advantage to play in Madrid due to the altitude, much less in hard court.

This new competition model, for me is a big mistake for tennis.

If they do this way Nadal would never be a tennis star. At the age of 18 he played Davis Cup agaist Czech Republic. The stars of the Spanish team gave up playing, since it was a first round away from home, where it was very likely to lose. Thus, without counting on Moyá and Ferrero, we face Ji?í Novák and Radek Št?pánek on an ultra fast court.
The key was that when nobody wanted to play, our captain pushed an unknown and very young tennis player, who returned to give the last game for Spain in the last breath.
With this system of concentration of matches in a week, to attract the stars, there will never be an opportunity for young and unknown players.

At the 2002 World Group final, Youzhny (20 years) played the deciding match against Paul-Henri Mathieu and came back from two sets down to win the Davis Cup in France (clay).

People tha loves tennis love long matches, that’s what made tennis like it is nowadays. Now there tv channells focused on tennis 24/7, so we don’t need to share the tv schedule with other sports. People that don’t like tennis are alwais worried about the duration, but tennis players don’t.

Tell those that love triathlon, to do a shorter race, cause there are people that don’t like to watch it.

Shorter matches makes tennis more focused on tall and strong players. There’s no chance for those that are able to run during five sets, probably not so tall. It makes tennis less popular, couse you don’t give a chance for those more skinny and patient. I started loving tennis, cause in my College matches were played at five sets. I was really bad at technique but was able to run a win every match after loosing the first two sets.

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Gary December 4, 2019 - 3:22 am

Not too sure how I feel about this tournament. I think I lean towards a no. One week each year always in the same place doesn’t feel right. Perhaps every 2 years with a fortnight length as you suggest would be better and have it shared throughout Europe as the world cup of tennis. The 2 finalists then perhaps play a slightly extended format with participation mandatory for all players on the team if fit. So we could not have 2 players both play singles and then play the doubles together. Nadal certainly seemed to take it very seriously, but I wonder how he would have done if he had gone through semis and final of the ATP finals with long matches for each. It is also obviously a bit strange as you say with the ATP cup tournament as well. Maybe they could alternate years and have the ATP cup be more of an exhibition kind of tournament where players can prep for AO but not have to worry so much about all the things that need to go into winning.

Many questions still about this one.
Thanks

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JAMES December 4, 2019 - 9:07 am

I think the cons heavily outweigh the pros:
– the quality of tennis is overall low and doing it over two weeks will only make it worse. Perhaps 3-4 teams have the potential to win the event but you as a viewer will have to muddle through many uninteresting rubbers before getting to the final weekend. there will be bouts of beautiful tennis but the overall level of intensity is very low, especially when compared to the laver cup.
– With tennis not being a team sport I think it will be very difficult to root for a team as the playing styles are probably very different withing each team, meaning fans will lean more towards players than teams, which is really against the spirit of the format.
– Playing the whole event it in one country is a poor decision as the home team’s matches will be sold out and the rest of the teams will enjoy much lower attendance.
– The event kicks off at the end of the tennis calendar every year, meaning players’ commitment is also low

I absolutely agree the format needed an overhaul but this has caused it to go in the opposite direction of what they needed. In my opinion, they should maintain the same year-long format as before but focus on upcoming players only (for instance under-20). Perhaps get some seasoned players involved as “team coaches” and offer a platform for the youngsters to shine through. In tennis we’re too concerned about who the next big stars are going to be and this would be an excellent preview to what the ATP tour will look like in 5-10 years time.

I agree that this is a difficult decision but trying to compete with the laver cup on a plain field, rather than differentiating, will see to the failure of one of the longer standing brands in tennis, which is a shame.

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Ted Murphy December 4, 2019 - 11:20 am

The new Davis Cup format feels more like an exhibition rather than a beloved tennis tradition. The crowds that made the old format so successful are not there unless you’re the home team. In short, the new format is a disaster. Tennis is not futball/soccer. The World Cup format does NOT work for tennis. The round-robin format is confusing and is not traditional. Also, the new format still does not attract the best national talent – something it was intended to do. The large number of matches back-to-back is overkill. I lost interest very early in the competition. It is NOT Davis Cup; it is just another exhibition that the Hopman Cup and the Laver Cup do better.

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Hans Hagberg December 4, 2019 - 10:09 pm

Both good and bad.
I think they can use a mix of the old format and the new to mitigate drawbacks.
Let the nations qualify by playing during the season. Then at the end of the season, start the new format with fewer teams.
The fans then have a chance to know if their favorite team will be there to watch and the stands will be full.
The home team will not have such a massive supporter advantage.

It was a lot of tennis to watch that week… Almost too much.
And the Russians who had to play all those matches with 2 players.

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