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The changing times of the Davis Cup

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Jonathan Overend | 16:36 UK time, Thursday, 7 July 2011

During our recent 5 Live tennis coverage, you may have heard an entertaining tale from 80 years ago which perfectly illustrates how the status of the Davis Cup has changed over the decades.

In 1931, the Wimbledon men's singles final didn't happen.

Sidney Wood was awarded the title by walkover after his scheduled opponent, Frank Shields, pulled out through injury.

Except that's not exactly true.

Shields was actually instructed to pull out by the United States Tennis Association because they were keen to rest him ahead of an important Davis Cup match with Britain the following week.

Shields, who was one of the actress Brooke Shields's grandfathers, did actually pick up an injury during his Wimbledon semi-final.

But, according to the late Wood's recently-published memoirs, it wasn't severe enough to rule Shields out of the final, and he wanted to play.

He was basically rested for Davis Cup duty by being pulled out of the Wimbledon final!

How times change.

Serbia, new Wimbledon champions Novak Djokovic's birthplace, are the current holders of the Davis Cup

The Davis Cup is a proud and historic competition. Ties have unique atmospheres and generate some of the best noise and competition in tennis.

In Austin, Texas, where the United States meet Spain in a quarter-final, nothing else will matter. The Americans will bond together and "play for the flag". They will commit to the tie as royally as Frank Shield, his team-mates and his USTA governors.

But Rafa Nadal won't be there for Spain. Like Roger Federer and many other top players, Nadal picks and chooses his ties.

And this one has come too soon after his crushing loss to Novak Djokovic at SW19 and the foot injury he picked up on his way to the final.

For Andy Murray, the Davis Cup has marginally beaten fantasy football in his priority list over the last two years.

Finding the strength of mind to carry a British team through a relatively insignificant weekend - at home to Luxembourg in Glasgow - is almost as tough as dragging his aching body through it.

Murray's hip flexor was giving him grief in his last two matches at Wimbledon and, ideally, he would rest for a couple of weeks before heading out to the American hard courts ahead of the US Open.

Yet these are not normal circumstances, this being the politically confused sport of tennis.

The Davis Cup has to fit in around the ATP World Tour and the Grand Slams. It needs to jump into the rest weeks and poke its nose into any slight gap in the players' relentless schedules.

Asking the stars to come out for best-of-five set tennis the week after Wimbledon is hardly conducive to a happy tennis family, although it is important to note that the players actually voted for these weeks.

Unlike Nadal, and his uncharacteristic outburst during Wimbledon, Murray is not complaining about the schedule though.

"It's not the weeks, it's never been the weeks," he said, "A few things happened which I didn't enjoy that much [with the previous Davis Cup regime]. They've been sorted out, but it took a while."

His cryptic comments will raise eyebrows and will recall events in Liverpool two years ago when he fell out with his then captain John Lloyd about whether he was fit to play against Poland.

The pair then clashed again when Britain lost to Lithuania last year and Lloyd pointed the finger at a perceived part-time commitment from Murray.

Lloyd has since been replaced by Murray's former junior coach Leon Smith.

Ahead of his first tie since that fateful Liverpool match, Murray arrived in Glasgow on Sunday night, earlier than expected, and says he's been enjoying the team spirit and practice sessions.

"I like playing for my country, always have done," he said. "I'm sure I'll play a bit more in future ties."

Whether he'd still be playing if the rules for Olympic qualification were different is a matter for debate though. He needs to receive an official on-site team nomination twice in the Olympic cycle to be eligible for London 2012.

One day he'd love to win the Davis Cup for Britain but without any sign of world class back-up in the backwaters of Euro Africa Zone Two that dream is distant.

The sport isn't played like it was in Sidney Wood and Frank Shields's day. It is faster, harder, more punishing, more brutal on the body.

But more than that, it is more mentally gruelling. It's no longer a game played by friends on lawns for prizes of picnic hampers. With soaring prize money and reputations resting on every rivalry - not to mention the intensity surrounding every big match-up - the
top players are usually shot to pieces by the end of a major fortnight.

The Davis Cup is a magnificent thing to win, as Novak Djokovic proved for Serbia with their spectacular triumph earlier this year, and it also helps bring funding and international competition to virtually every nation on the plant (tennis is the second most popular sport in terms of nations competing globally).

But the whole thing needs a radical rethink, way beyond moving forward the final by two weeks (which the ITF has announced for 2012 and 2013).

Exactly one week after playing the world number one on Wimbledon's centre court, Murray plays someone without a world ranking, Laurent Bram, at an area attached to a shopping centre in the west of Glasgow (just past the food court, in case you are looking).

On the one hand it emphasises the beauty of the competition, but on the other it exposes extreme silliness.

Murray's life is completely devoted to winning a major singles championship and, despite his upbeat comments here, playing best-of-five set tennis on a non-Grand Slam surface, having moved from grass to indoor hard in the space of a week, doesn't feature as
perfect prep.

Meanwhile Nadal goes fishing off the Majorcan coast as Spain takes on the USA thousands of miles away.

The Davis Cup requires fresh thinking and, ultimately, radical overhaul.

And before you ask, I don't have the perfect solution. But between us - as tennis fans - I bet we could come up with ten good concepts which could ensure player participation, fit within the calendar, and re-energise the competition.

The tricky thing would then be convincing the powers that be...

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    It's embarassing to think how far Britain has fallen down the rankings in regard to the Davis Cup. Tennis fans should not be questioning the powers that be in regards to the Davis Cup, but the LTA that has failed time and time again to bring grass roots British players through the ranks. Andy Murray has only reached the levels that he has by going through a Spanish tennis academy. Maybe if Britain could provide more than one top 40 player we might start winning matches and thus Davis Cup ties wouldn't be held behind a food court in Glasgow.

  • Comment number 2.

    Given Colin Fleming's recent performances, at both Queens & Wimbledon, what do you/your readers feel about the decision to sacrifice him in the doubles to allow Andy to partner his big brother@ Braehead.

    Murray sponsors, including RBS, & mummy Murray might be happy but surely a carve up...

  • Comment number 3.

    The competition needs to be scrapped and condensed into a week long/10 day competition. All the top players would play, the public would be captivated, the sponsors would be happy, it could fit into the tennis calendar and the atmosphere would replicate a world cup.

    32 teams, teams made up of 8 squad players (which would give the competition much more of a 'team' element), knock-out competition of 5 rounds. Each tie could be made up of 4 singles and one doubles match. Based on teams playing one tie every other day, the competition would be 9 days (Saturday to Sunday).

    EASY!

  • Comment number 4.

    I've always thought it should be an all in one go, single host nation tournament held every 2 or 4 years with regionalised qualifiers. In other words, a tennis version of football, cricket and rugby's World Cups. It lacks impact and visibility in the crowded sporting calendar as it is, and if the top players stay away it doesn't have a future in its current form.

  • Comment number 5.

    Good blog. Is economics the answer to why people want to play more grand slams then davis cup games? I think that may explain at least part of the reason.

  • Comment number 6.

    You're right it needs an overhaul, but as does the entire tennis calendar.

    Not necessarily radical, but the grass court season needs to be a couple of weeks longer, a masters Grass tournament would be good, as would moving another of the Masters tournaments to January & the Australian Open a few weeks back. I'd give them a couple of weeks more than just a month off too.

  • Comment number 7.

    Decent post Jon. I actually think the Davis Cup is a missed opportunity for tennis, and in an increasingly competitive sporting world I'm not sure tennis can afford such profligacy.

    Rather than a never-ending gaggle of matches, always trying to fit around the bigger events like some old 'friend' you can't quite bear to get rid of, why not turn the Davis Cup into a proper World Cup?

    What I'm thinking is a showpiece event, taking place probably every 2, 3 or 4 years, occupying 3-4 weeks (not the marathon length the ICC deems appropriate for cricket) in September. Good fortnight break after US Open, but nicely before the ATP Finals. Probably start the year after the Olympics, so it won't clash with the football or rugby WCs. A proper event that gets everyone talking, one that means your average sports fan (you know, the ones who think the tennis season is 6 weeks long, starting in Paris and finishing at Wimbledon) will actually know who the world champions are.

    Group stages 32 teams in 8 groups of 4. Round of 16, QF, SF, Final (as in football). Each fixture as per Davis Cup, but 3-setters only until QF stage. A squad consists of 7 players, so up to the managers who he wants to deploy when. Man management and team tactics obviously become quite important.

    I guess we'd need continental qualification rounds some time in February (2 weeks after Australian Open, but well before Indian Wells), probably excluding the world's top 16 teams. But that could be done over a 2-week period, again all taking place at one neutral venue (e.g. European quals in Spain).

    Yes it's drastic, yes it means 1 or 2 tournaments have to go, and yes it borrows from football. And yes it means there is less team tennis than currently. But I think it gives focus, excitement, and a spectacle that we and the players will cherish.

    And while we're at it, the women can do exactly the same, showpiecing one of the best elements of tennis: the fact that the women's game is NOT just a very poor relation of the men's game.

  • Comment number 8.

    Why not have a world cup style format every 2,3 or 4 years? Where nations will play against each other, with the tournament lasting a few weeks. Would create a lot of interest in the short period of time, as everyone would be looking on at the same "tournament" and not different matches ongoing in different parts of the world. The ties don't need to be as long as they currently are. This way it is something to look forward to, rather than a drain peeking in and out again.

  • Comment number 9.

    I have now just read posts #3 and #4. Mr Overend, I think you might have Concept No. 1 of your 10 concepts...

  • Comment number 10.

    Posts 3 and 4 speak so much sense it HURTS that the ATP/WTA people can't see that... Put Davis Cup and Fed Cup TOGETHER too (not the same competition; but two events together in the same place at the same time), because it means they can place it in a part of the year outside of the 4 Grand Slams for men and women. It would certainly ensure more commitment from the top players.

  • Comment number 11.

    I agree with a radical overhaul of the calendar, but it depends on many things. Firstly:

    - The Davis Cup should be the Premier competition, as it was in the old days. The prestige, heritage and the uniquesness, in tennis terms, of the event, the bringing together of nationalities, is an occasion to be savoured, like the World Cup in football. And, like the World Cup, it should not be annual. Which is where calls for a tennis-style 'World Cup' heighten. Davis Cup should be every 2 or 4 years, with the intervening years, perhaps the intervening weeks which are currently scheduled, be left for qualifying for this main event, which is held in the country of the winners. Hopefully, we would get a different champion every time, but obviously this could be altered if things like surface, crowd influence etc. affect the outcome each time.

    Also, the season doesn't need to be a couple of weeks longer, it needs to be about 2 months, and then we wouldn't see this current 'mid-season break' where the top players feel the need to sit out, thus costing these smaller tournaments valuable income. Yes, there is no harm in the Aus Open being in February; the temperature, which has been a debilitating factor previously, will have cooled and the rain held off by this time, I don't know, I'm not an expert in Australian meteorology. Then a warm-up Masters Series event could be played in January. Both factors could allow for a better quality Aus Open, raising this major's public image.

    Also, there should never be two Masters Series events following one another directly, as will happen Madrid/Rome and Montreal/Cincinnati. That is ridiculous and places too much strain on top players. The formula should go: ATP 500, ATP 250, Masters Series for three consecutive weeks.

    There should be a grass court MS event, perhaps Queens/Halle I don't know how accommodating these arenas are. Preferably not England, as Wimbledon is held there. But certainly an extra 2/3 weeks.

    The season ending with the US Open, plus a couple of spare weeks, the MS event in Paris, and then the World Tour Finals in October would be very good. Then, every 2/4 years, November could be spent with a barnstorming Davis Cup finale.

    I know this won't happen any time soon (and there is far more explanation of the entire calendar to fit the other events in), but the current calendar is far too arbitrary, no real focus on the importance of events (such as Wimbledon: 3 weeks after the French?! Ridiculous) and not accommodating enough for the players who are at the top of the game.

    If people are interested, I could post more details of my ideas tomorrow. There are also those in favour of a 'fifth major', possibly indoors, which is certainly workable, but the prestige element may limit its enticement.

  • Comment number 12.

    fsrf

  • Comment number 13.

    You seem to be having a dig at Nadal here which to me is ridiculous. Just look at the amount of Tennis he has played in the last couple of months, getting to the final of every tournament but Queens. It is impossible to compare this to the amount Verdasco,Lopez,Ferrer have played. How can you expect Nadal to jet off after losing the Wimbledon final, to Austin, suddenly play in 40 degrees heat, on a totally different surface,against top class players, with a rumoured 'broken foot'

  • Comment number 14.

    I agree with comments 3,4,7,8 and 11. The format proposed here will make it so interesting and also, we can have the tournament played on different surfaces on alternate (Davis/World) cup years. You wouldn't have to try to be in ten places at once trying to watch Spain, Argentina, GB as they would all be one place.

  • Comment number 15.

    the answer is very easy ... as many people before me have posted: make it a World Cup format and play it every 4 years. The big question is not "how do we revitalise the Davis Cup?" ... the big question is why the hell has the obvious solution not been implemented already?"

  • Comment number 16.

    Is the Davis Cup really failing? Ask most Britons and yes it is, a peripheral and meaningless trophy. Ask most Serbians or Argentinians and see what answer they give... This week alone Djokovic and Del Potro are in action, and both have repeatedly made clear their enthusiasm for playing.

    Most Indians would tell you the IPL is bigger than the Superbowl... its all a matter of perspective. If GB produced three or four top players are had a chance of winning the Davis Cup, it'd suddenly be important again...

  • Comment number 17.

    OK....almost everyone is screaming for change....why?...because the countries that have top ranked players wont compete??....Because the top ranked players from those countries won't play in Davis Cup matches??.....really??.....I think not...It should be an honor to play for your country and flag....if as a player you don't want to why should that signal a change to the completion??....Ridiculous!!

    Davis Cup is a stage for countries to showcase their players and to compete on the international stage as a country....this brings much needed funds and exposure to some of the less talented countries if they progress and if that means at the expense of nations such as Spain, USA or Sweden then so be it. No reason to change anything!!

  • Comment number 18.

    Spain has won 3 Davis Cup solely on the backs of Nadal. Besides he won Gold in the Olympics. Federer and Murray are yet to win any Davis Cup for their country. Djokovic is just now getting started with his run. Given all that, I think Nadal does deserve a much-needed fishing break and give a chance to other players from his country to participate in the prestigious Davis Cup tournament.

  • Comment number 19.

    Great Blog.

    Some interesting points raised. I like the proposed format detailed in #3’s post sounds like the most attractive option. I think if it was short and sweet everyone would get into it.

    The only problem I foresee is that, as referenced in Jonathan’s article, the Davis Cup brings much needed international funding to every nation. I have no doubt that having a one off ‘world cup’ style event would be very lucrative in terms of endorsements and probably earn more than the cumulative total being raised now. However, it is the smaller nations that will miss out if this format is introduced. Therefore, to make it plausible, some form of financial recognition would need to be included for these smaller nations, which might be difficult to agree upon.

  • Comment number 20.

    3 singles. With no one competing twice
    2 doubles. It is a team competition.
    Every four years, non Olympic years.
    Set in a single country or region.
    Some kind of qualification matches to fit into a final 32 or 16 nations.
    Sponsored by Rolex, Nike and Facebook.With a large financial prize to winners and to those competing.
    Combined with a Federation Cup equivalent.

  • Comment number 21.

    Davis World Cup, bi-annual, is a good idea to be contested between a certain number of qualified countries [16, 24, or whatever] at changing venues. The matches should be played best of three sets. The scheme would still allow all currently active countries to participate in the qualifiers. Davis World Cup would turn the event into a festival of tennis excitement - similar to Ryder Cup.

  • Comment number 22.

    Why would any of the top 4 want to play the davis ccup, where is their back up. I understand them not being bothered, who is the number 2 Swiss, Serbian or Brit, only Spain have the strength in depth to back up Raffa.
    If the LTA instead of giving tickets to ex players and other sport stars to appear at Wimbledon they sold tickets to a few of the seats to the royal box and supported some of the talent in the junoior game who didn't speak with a "naice" accent they might develop a few players who could help Andy and win a Davis cup series

  • Comment number 23.

    While it's true that "Like Roger Federer and many other top players, Nadal picks and chooses his ties", Roger Federer’ Davis Cup record was far superior to Nadal, Murray and Djokovic at a similar age.

    At Nadal's age now -- age 25 + 2 months -- Federer had played 41 Davis Cup matches in 15 ties up to September 2006. To date, Federer has played 48 Davis Cup matches in 18 ties for Switzerland, including in locations outside Europe such as Australia, Morocco and Russia. For years Federer was the one man Swiss team, playing 2 singles and the doubles in 12 ties, which harmed his ATP career and body.

    To date, this is the Davis Cup record of:
    - Nadal at age 25 + 2 months: only 23 matches in only 12 ties (despite reaching top ten and winning grand slams at age 19). Nadal has played doubles as well as both singles in only 3 ties. Of those 23 matches, 16 were on clay and held mostly in Spain. Nadal has never traveled with his Spanish team to a DC tie outside Europe, not even to play the 2008 Davis Cup final in Argentina (he gave contradictory dubious excuses to skip the 2008 World Tour Finals in Shanghai and the Davis Cup Final a week later). No one should have expected Nadal to travel to the USA.
    - Murray at age 24: only 17 matches, only 9 ties.
    - Djokovic age 24: only 28 matches, 15 ties.

    A poster named Caroline observed: "Roger has taken a huge amount of criticism for his non-participation in DC but it is completely misplaced. His commitment (number of ties played) to DC has been greater than Rafa's and his workload in those ties has been nearly twice as much. It's part of the double-standard narrative - Rafa is the humble, patriotic warrior whereas Roger is the selfish, self-aggrandising elitist. Neither is true."

    Arguably Federer is closer to John McEnroe’s record -- at age 25 + 2 months, McEnroe played 49 DC matches in 19 ties (after this age, McEnroe played only 11 more ties and 20 matches). Federer is a different generation (and five years older) than Nadal, Murray and Djokovic who are in the same generation. It just so happened that Federer remained at his peak longer than the norm for his generation while Nadal matured earlier than the norm for his generation

    Since after 2010 Wimbledon: the older Federer has played 86 ATP matches (73-13) compared to the younger Djokovic's 87 matches from 82 ATP matches (73-9) plus 5 DC matches and to the younger Nadal's 88 ATP matches (75-13). When you consider that Federer has played (1) almost 1,000 matches in his career (compared to Nadal's approximately 600 matches); (2) Federer has played a lot more hardcourt matches that put more stress on a player's body compared to Nadal (who has played relatively more softcourt matches); and (3) Federer is 5 years older than Nadal. it is Federer who should resting his body, instead of playing in a relic like the Davis Cup.

  • Comment number 24.

    I think you are all missing one salient point as to why Andy Murray is "dragging his aching body through it". I may be accused of being a cynic, but I believe that he is only turning out as this counts as one of the two events he needs to compete in to qualify for next year's Olympics.

  • Comment number 25.

    Tennis is an individuals sport. Only the bad ones take doubles seriously these days. And its not the cold war anymore so nations don't matter so much.

  • Comment number 26.

    I agree with the suggestion of a World Cup type competition, probably evey 2 years is about right.
    The smaller countries can compete in the previous year to qualify for a 32/16 team tournament.
    Hold it like a grand slam over 2 weeks.
    Smaller countries can compete for Plate, Bowl, Shield competitions similar to Rugby competitions, if you want more involvement from smaller nations.
    Countries can bid to hold the tournament and it travels around the world each tournament.
    I went to my 1st Davis Cup tie at Liverpool 2 years ago and the atmoshere is superb.
    Imagine what it would be like if all the nations were there, many differenmt supporters from around the world.
    It would put world tennis back on the map again, instead of a partisan
    audience it would be more like a world cup with fans from all competing countries attending.
    Bring it on.

  • Comment number 27.

    Should point out that no-one in the tennis world much cares if the fourth ranked player in the world perhaps feels compelled to participate in a backwater tie in the third tier of the Davis Cup competition.

    That the World Group ties have a continuous battle for relevance and a sensible place in the tennis calendar is an ongoing debate between the various governing bodies, a sub-issue within the bigger debate around the length of the calendar. But it is not really helpful to present Andy Murray's situation this week as an example of what the debate is all about.

  • Comment number 28.

    Poster No.1 said;

    'Maybe if Britain could provide more than one top 40 player we might start winning matches and thus Davis Cup ties wouldn't be held behind a food court in Glasgow.'

    I'm sorry but I find this comment almost rude. Is it the fact that the game is being held in the braehead arena you find embarrassing or that it is being held in glasgow?

    I have actually been to the arena before, and ok, its not the biggest or best arena (though it is quite good for ice hockey matches), and i'm surprised the match isn't taking place at the SECC or kelvingrove, it is quite enclosed and will create a great atmosphere. Plus having a food court nearby will probably be of great convenience to fans.

    And what is wrong with Glasgow hosting the match!? Afterall it is Scotland who has produced this country's best male tennis player in over 70 years, and best female tennis player in nearly twenty. If anything all future UK davis cup matches (and by extension fed cup matches) should be held north of the border until a decent english tennis player comes into the fold.

    To test it why don't we have another running of the england v scotland aberdeen cup again. See who comes out on top.

  • Comment number 29.

    Andy Murray played Davis Cup before the Olympics and he will play afterwards. No discussion.

    Braehead is a purpose built arena, you describe it as if it is a parking lot beside Tesco. Taking your argument to its conclusion, are you suggesting that no tennis should be played outside of London?

    I think the real problem is the relentless nature of the ATP tour, in reality the ITF has to find non-existant gaps in the calender to fit in a competition of global proportions. I'm not sure we need four North American hard court masters for example.

  • Comment number 30.

    A World Cup format is a really bad idea. It removes the only worthwhile part of the competition - the home/away format.

    Who wants to see Slovakia and Spain play in a half empty stadium of Americans?

  • Comment number 31.

    Interesting article and agree that Davis Cup is probably in need of a rethink.

    I have a piece that takes a slightly different angle to this one, on why Davis Cup could actually be growing in importance:

    http://prettyprettygoodblog.blogspot.com/2011/07/resurgence-of-davis-cup.html

  • Comment number 32.

    Blimey, some of these posts (7,11,23) are long enough to suggest a few people really care!!

    Davis Cup is really nothing more than who has the 2 best players at any one time.
    This could be worked out from the rankings, so no need for a tournament.

    If it's so important to 'Britain', why aren't home games played on centre court now it has a roof ?

  • Comment number 33.

    One other concept to consider as borrowed from Rugby 7s events.

    Within the proposed WC format each winner of a knockout round progresses within the main competition with losers from progressive rounds being entered into concurrent Plate & Bowl competitions.

    The advantage of this format is that matches become increasingly competitive in all events as the tournament progresses and the weaker nations always have something to compete for.

    GB Vs Turkey in the plate final would become a more interesting watch and surely must be beneficial for player development.

  • Comment number 34.

    The top players get a lot of unfair criticism for skipping Davis Cup ties, in my opinion.
    One thing I think that would entice them to play would be changing matches from best of five to best of three. Even a straight sets win in a best of five can be a gruelling, physically brutal affair, and I just don't blame the top players for wanting none of it.

    I also agree with a couple of other posters that it should be changed from the current, confusing at times, format to a two week long event. I think this would place an emphasis on the importance of the Cup and from a corporate sponsor and TV point of view, would be far more beneficial. As others have suggested it could take place every two years, with the year in-between used for qualifying.

  • Comment number 35.

    It should be scrapped.

    Let's face it, Tennis is an individual (or pairs) sport, not a team sport. The only individual sport that successfully incorporates a proper team event which is deemed as important as individual honours is Golf with the Ryder Cup and that is based on a single rivalry rather than a sense of national pride as such. Pool perhaps comes close with the Mosconi cup which is very similar.

    Every other sport that has tried it based on nations has failed: Snooker, Tennis, Darts, Motor Racing, Golf's own world cup, even Athletics events like the World Cup, they all fall well below the main events in those sports because the ethos of the sport is individual performance, not a common team goal.

  • Comment number 36.

    I can't believe how many people are seperately suggesting the same thing! Well done No.3 (Bullygumdrops) for getting there first!

    I think it's a cracking idea, let's just do that. A Tennis World Cup. Agreed.

  • Comment number 37.

    The format needs to change - I attended the DC on a Saturday and Sunday - GB got beaten in the doubles in about 2 hours, it then took me 4 hours to get out the car park - the match was over (0-3) on the singles, so we got 2 dead rubbers.
    I would suggest we need all matches to be best of 3 sets and the team increased to 3 singles players and two doubles teams - the doubles teams cross over to give a total of 7 rubbers - 2 doubles on the Friday, 3 singles on the Saturday and the other two doubles on the Sunday.

  • Comment number 38.

    The top draw tennis players don't want to participate because there is no decent amount of prize fund at the end of the tournament. You place £100,000,000 there and EVERYONE will show up and play like you've never seen them before. Its a boring and non existent cup. If it counted towards a major in terms of gland slam status, then you'd see alot more top drawers playing..

    Just like many sportsmen and women out there its about the money not the winning. They'll say not in interviews but whats better then giving 50% and being sorted for life by the time your 30/35??

  • Comment number 39.

    The Davis Cup needs a complete overhaul. Make it an every 3 or 4 year event, in a new host nation each time that is modeled after the football's World Cup (sans bribery and corrupt, fat, Swiss men). The ATP should also take steps to ensure their schedule will allow for such an event. There is nothing I hate more than seeing summer football leagues continuing to player with lesser players during major events. This can be a great event. It just needs to be blown-up and started over again.

  • Comment number 40.

    BullyGumDrops has my vote here. A week/fortnight competition every year with all the teams involved, a seed system so that the top 8 countries are split up and 'should' meet in the 1/4 finals for a fantastic finale with Spain and Serbia the most likely to be there at the end. The playing surface and location alternated each year to ensure fairness (and to prevent a Spanish take-over on clay). I hope the powers that be have read this blog.

  • Comment number 41.

    Excellent ideas posted above, a round robin single event competition just like the World Cup in a calendar space of its own.

    At the end of the day, though, isn't it all about the money? - everything is all about the money these days.

    And while we are at it, what about all the money Britain poured (invested) into Murray's training, do we the tax payer get any of that back?

  • Comment number 42.

    Teams in the World Group do care and I am confident people in the GB including Andy Murray would care a bit more if Britain was in a level where they would be playing teams with more than one world ranked player. A win against Luxembourg and then one against the winner of Belarus and Hungary would secure promotion to the 2nd tier where they would be playing countries such as Switzerland (I hear they aren't too bad at tennis).

  • Comment number 43.

    most posters here are proclaiming a Davis Cup in crisis, which is just not true. This week, all the world's top players, most of the top 20 (bar the injured Nadal and Soderling) are taking part, and most of the top 20 do on a regular basis at the highest level. The Davis Cup means a great deal to them. Try telling Novak Djokovic (world number one) and the Serbian nation that it's not important.

    Jonathan makes some valid points about its weaknesses and where it needs improving, but the truth is most players do still see it as important. It's just Murray (who is playing in a poor team), Federer (who plays far fewer tournaments these days anyway) and Nadal (who lord knows can't be begrudged a week off every now and then). Even these players aren't exactly anti-Davis Cup.

    Tennis World Cup sounds like a romantic idea, it sounds like a great idea. But it will be so problematic. When would it take place? Who would host? (Who could even host a tournament of this scale other than the slam venues?) What surface would it be on? If there are going to be qualifiers, does that even aleviate the schedule problems the Davis Cup has anyway?

    In my opinion, the solution is (not that Tour organisers will ever introduce it) to reduce the number of tournaments in a year. The players complain about it all the time. Take 2 or 3 weeks out of the tour, maybe take 1 match day out of the Davis Cup or something, and Federer etc might think about playing more. But remember the other top guys are still playing it

  • Comment number 44.

    "And while we are at it, what about all the money Britain poured (invested) into Murray's training, do we the tax payer get any of that back?"

    Are you serious? Murray trained in Spain as a junior, says it all probably. I'd be more worried at the millions poured into the rest of British tennis. Also the LTA is mostly not governmentally funded.

  • Comment number 45.

    World Cup idea sounds great - the current set-up is too confusing and it's hard to draw people in to it. However, I think there are still people who see tennis as a prestige sport and do not want the "masses" involved. Today I took my 8yr old daughter to see her 1st live tennis match at Braehead to watch Andy etc. She was really excited, enjoying the atmosphere there (was almost like a football match), but 2 grumpy old **** in front of her shouted at her and made her cry - why? She wasn't apparently allowed to cheer! It was a brilliant atmosphere in the stadium today but apparently some people still expect a gentle game played on back lawns!

  • Comment number 46.

    Djokovic is proud to sit with his Serbian team mates in Sweden this week. Another lesson that others can learn from the new Serbia.

  • Comment number 47.

    Why doesn't Australia ever have this problem? Lleyton Hewitt prioritises Davis Cup up with the slams, perhaps to his detriment. If he had turned up at the grass court tournament in Newport this week, he probably would have won it and gained needed ranking points and wouldn't need to travel to the other side of the world. Instead he's flying to China to play a tier 1 match and so far he's only played the doubles. When he was number 1, I think he only missed one tie and that was because he was recovering from chicken pox.

    Bernard Tomic was asked about Davis Cup and he seemed to have the same attitude as Hewitt - if he is asked to play he will play. It's a honour to play for his country.

    Lleyton Hewitt has been in the same situation as Murray - in that he has had to drag his country by himself through the ties. (although the lower ranked australian players are a bit better than ours) However he doesn't seem to see that as a problem. It's a honour for him to play Davis Cup and that seems to be one of his remaining goals in his career (however long he's got left) - to get Australia back in the World Group. Is it because they have the rich history in this competition that every player wants to emulate?

    Finally, I don't understand how Ross Hutchins was not chosen? Am I missing something? Maybe its because his name doesn't end in Murray?

  • Comment number 48.

    While the Davis Cup format could definitely use a rethink, you can't fault the players for indifference. Almost every top player showed up up for this round except Nadal, who is nursing a foot injury prior to the hard court season in America. The Argentines look pretty impressive.

  • Comment number 49.

    What is wrong with bringing tennis to venues like the Braehead Arena in Glasgow? we can't all afford to go to London although I would dearlly love to go to Wimbledon. I was delighted to get tickets to watch Andy Murray,the atmosphere was great and it seems Andy really enjoyed the welcome he received from his " ain folk" . Top class sport of all kind should be spread around the whole country. Give us more tennis in Glasgow we loved it. Also I wish everyone would give Andy Murray a break he played his heart out on Sunday,chased every ball. Even if he never wins a slam lets for once in Britain just be proud of having a top class athlete and tennis player,he has given us something to cheer about at Wimbledon over the last few years. The English press were the same about Henman the guy gave the best he could but got all this ridiculous criticism about being middleclass and not aggressive enough to win.

    Thanks Andy Murray for coming to Glasgow and giving Scottish tennis fans such a great weekend!!

  • Comment number 50.

    I think the general consensus here is that the Davis Cup needs an overhaul/refresh. What I would do:

    Combine it into a mens and womens event. Not that men would play women, but that the results are combined.

    Format would be 2 mens matches, 2 womens matches and 2 doubles matches (one for men and one for women) but nobody can play more than once. It is a team event and having somebody who can play in three of the five rubbers (at the minute) is pretty ridiculous.

    Every four years, non Olympic years. (Avoid football world cup also). Over a two week period.

    Set in a single country or region and that country chooses the surface.

    Some kind of qualification matches to fit into a final 32 or 16 nations. First 16 nations qualify automatically and there is a play-off for the remaining places.

    At the minute, most tennis fans arent all that bothered about Davis Cup, let alone other sports fans. It is in desperate need of something different.

  • Comment number 51.

    Country based competitions are most interesting when they are the pinnacle of the sport - athletics at the Olympics, Football World Cup. But I can't imagine Davis cup ever managing to be that, as some countries have one great player, but no-one else. It is bizarre that an individual sport gets turned into a team competition. Maybe it made more sense when fewer countries played tennis. Plus the Grand Slam events work so well and are so exciting. So I am not convinced there is really any great reason to continue, despite its historic heyday. Time to move on and forget it, I reckon.

  • Comment number 52.

    I totally agree with a few of the above. Condensing the competition into a shorter tournament-style layout would more than help its organization, the players' general welfare and the excitement of the Davis Cup. I am 20 years old and have been playing tennis for 12 years. I captain my university team and can safely say I am a huge fan of tennis. Yet, in my decade and a bit of watching and competing, not once has the Davis Cup got me excited! I religiously watch the majors and ATP / WTA tour events, taking a special interest in the World Tour Finals. I would sooner watch a Challenger event than watch the entirety, or even a rubber of a Davis Cup tie.

    From a playing point of view, I couldn't possibly argue against players like Nadal and Murray who often refuse to take part in the competition, especially considering their schedules. Combined, I spend over 20 hours every week on court, either training or competing. Add this to the similar number of hours I apply to coaching, it is more than hard work on the body, let alone the mind.

    Take into account the fact that Andy & Co. are on court for more than double the time I am training and playing during tournaments, and not forgetting any fitness and conditioning they take part in in between tournaments, it seems undignified to just expect a world class player to give up their free time to play for their team.

    I hate to break it to John Lloyd, but he needs to sort his head out. He's like a secondary who considers it compulsory for anybody half decent at sport to be playing for a team. IT's RIDICULOUS!

    Look at the format of various 'County Week' tournaments that run every year around the UK. They last one week, and teams who finish top of their table get promoted, teams who finish bottom get relegated. And each individual can end up playing up to 8 matches in those 6/7 days! It's not rocket science!

    Obviously my opinion will be cast aside and not even viewed, but I hope this somewhat sheds a light on just how tough a tennis schedule is without even being World class or having idiots like John Lloyd around!

  • Comment number 53.


    In the good old days, "Country first than the rest" used to be a powerful sentiment. To revive such cherished habits of thinking and feeling the annual Davis Cup event could follow the Olympics, World Cup Football, Euro Football or Cricket World Cup models of hosting the event once in four years. Players will long to be part of such rare and very special world events. Lovers of tennis too will show far greater enthusiasm in the Davis Cup than has been the case in recent years. Davis Cup is a big name in the world of tennis. The event and its guardians need to re-invent their strategies. The sooner the better.


    Dr. Cajetan Coelho

  • Comment number 54.

    WOULD YOU LIKE AN EXTRA £145.50 A YEAR TO SPEND ON CLOTHES OR HOLIDAYS OR SOMETHING ELSE?

    Well its easy, the law only states you need a tv license to watch programs as they are first broadcast, you do not need a tv license should you watch a program a day later on iplayer, hook your tv up to your pc's and laptops now and cash in the useless and costly license.

    http://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/check-if-you-need-one

    With wimbledon and other open broadcasts (mainly on red button as well!) being generally during the day when you are at work I should imagine you always catch up on iplayer and what else would you need to watch as it is broadcast on the BBC?

 

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