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|Current season or competition:
2013 Davis Cup
|No. of teams||16 (World Group)
130 (2013 total)
|Countries||ITF member nations|
|Most recent champion(s)||Czech Republic (3rd title)|
|Most titles||United States (32 titles)|
|Founder||Dwight F. Davis|
The Davis Cup is the premier international team event in men's tennis. It is run by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and is contested annually between teams from competing countries in a knock-out format. The competition began in 1900 as a challenge between Great Britain and the United States. By 2013, 130 nations entered teams into the competition. The most successful countries over the history of the tournament are the United States (winning 32 tournaments and finishing as runners-up 29 times) and Australia (winning 28 times, including four occasions with New Zealand as Australasia, and finishing as runners-up 19 times). The present champion is the Czech Republic, which beat Serbia to retain the title.
The women's equivalent of the Davis Cup is the Fed Cup. Australia, the Czech Republic, and the United States are the only countries to have held both Davis Cup and Fed Cup titles in the same year.
The tournament was conceived in 1899 by four members of the Harvard University tennis team who wished to challenge the British to a tennis competition. Once their respective lawn tennis associations agreed, one of the four Harvard players, Dwight F. Davis, designed a tournament format and ordered an appropriate sterling silver trophy from Shreve, Crump & Low, purchasing it from his own funds for about $1000. They in turn commissioned a classically-styled design from William B. Durgin's of Concord, New Hampshire, crafted by the Englishman Rowland Rhodes. Davis went on to become a prominent politician in the United States in the 1920s, serving as US Secretary of War from 1925–29 and as Governor-General of the Philippines from 1929–32.
The first match, between the United States and Britain (which originally competed using the name "British Isles"), was held at the Longwood Cricket Club in Boston, Massachusetts in 1900. The American team, of which Dwight Davis was a part, surprised the British by winning the first three matches. The following year the two countries did not compete, but the US won the match in 1902 and Britain won the next four matches after that. By 1905 the tournament expanded to include Belgium, Austria, France, and Australasia, a combined team from Australia and New Zealand that competed together until 1914.
The tournament was initially titled the International Lawn Tennis Challenge although it soon became known as the Davis Cup, after Dwight Davis' trophy.
The United States has won the event the most times (32), closely followed by Australia (28 [including 4 as Australasia]), Great Britain (9 [including 5 as the British Isles]), France (9) and Sweden (7).
Up until 1973, the Davis Cup had only ever been won by the United States, Great Britain/British Isles, France and Australia/Australasia. Their domination was eventually broken in 1974, when South Africa and India qualified for the final; however, the final was scratched and South Africa was awarded the Davis Cup after India refused to travel to South Africa for the final in protest of the South African government's apartheid policies. (As of 2013, South Africa has never actually played in a Davis Cup finals match.) The following year saw the first final between two "outsider" nations that was actually played; Sweden beat Czechoslovakia 3–2, and since then several other countries have gone on to capture the trophy.
In 1989, the tiebreak was also introduced into Davis Cup competition. The tiebreak is now used in all sets except for fifth set, which remains an advantage set.
On the 100th anniversary of the tournament's founding, 129 nations competed for the Davis Cup.
Davis Cup games in Sweden have been affected by political protests several times, often from left-wing people, including sometimes the government:
- The match between Sweden and Rhodesia 1968 was supposed to be played in Båstad but was moved to Bandol, France, due to protests against the Ian Smith "white racist" regime.
- The Swedish government tried to stop the match between Chile and Sweden in 1975 in Båstad, due to violations of human rights in Chile. The match was played, even as 7,000 people were outside protesting against it.
- After the 2008–2009 Israel–Gaza conflict, when 1,330 Palestinians were killed by the Israeli army, 6,000 people were protesting outside the Malmö city Davis Cup match between Sweden and Israel in March 2009. The Malmö city politicians expected this protest storm, and were afraid of extremists, and decided due to alleged security reasons to only let a small audience in.
The 16 best national teams are assigned to the World Group and compete annually for the Davis Cup. Nations which are not in the World Group compete in one of three regional zones (Americas, Asia/Oceania, and Europe/Africa). The competition is spread over four weekends during the year. Each elimination round between competing nations is held in one of the countries. The ITF determines the host countries for all possible matchups before each year's tournament.
The World Group is the top group and includes the world's best 16 national teams. Teams in the World Group play a four-round elimination tournament. Teams are seeded based on a ranking system released by the ITF, taking into account previous years' results. The defending champion and runner-up are always the top two seeds in the tournament. The losers of the first-round matches are sent to the World Group playoff round, where they play along with winners from Group I of the regional zones. The playoff round winners play in the World Group for the next year's tournament, while the losers play in Group I of their respective regional zone.
Each of the three regional zones is divided into four groups. Groups I and II play elimination rounds, with the losing teams facing relegation to the next-lower group. The teams in Groups III and those in Group IV play a round-robin tournament with promotion and relegation.
|2||Group One Americas Zone
|Group One Europe/Africa Zone
|Group One Asia/Oceania Zone
|3||Group Two Americas Zone
|Group Two Europe/Africa Zone
|Group Two Asia/Oceania Zone
|4||Group Three Americas Zone
|Group Three Europe Zone
|Group Three Africa Zone
|Group Three Asia/Oceania Zone
|5||Group Four Asia/Oceania Zone
Note: The total number of nations in Group One is 24. However, the distribution between the three zones may vary each year, according to the number of nations promoted or relegated between Group One and the World Group. The number of nations in the World Group and Group One together is 22 from Euro/African Zone, 9 from Americas Zone and 9 from Asia/Oceania Zone.
Previous tournament structure
When competition began in 1900, the Davis Cup competition was played as a challenge cup. All teams competed against one another for the right to face the previous year's champion in the final round, and the previous year's champion (the "defending champion") advanced directly to the current year's final round. Beginning in 1923, the world's teams were split into two zones: the "America Zone" and the "Europe Zone". The winners of the two zones met in the Inter-Zonal Zone ("INZ") to decide which national team would challenge the defending champion for the cup. In 1955, a third zone, the "Eastern Zone", was added. Because there were three zones, the winner of one of the three zones received a bye in the first round of the INZ challenger rounds. In 1966, the "Europe Zone" was split into two zones, "Europe Zone A" and "Europe Zone B", so the winners of the four zones competed in the INZ challenger rounds.
Beginning in 1972, the format was changed from a challenge cup, so that the defending champion was required to compete in all rounds, and the Davis Cup was awarded to the tournament champion.
In 1981, the tiered system of competition was created, which remains in use today, and in which the 16 best national teams compete in the World Group and in which all other national teams compete in one of the four groups in one of the three regional zones.
Ties and rubbers
As in other cup competitions tie is used in the Davis Cup to mean an elimination (or knockout) round, rather than meaning a draw or when competitors' scores are equal. In the Davis Cup, the word rubber means an individual match. Thus, "tie" means a round, and "rubber" means a match.
In the annual World Group competition, 16 nations compete in 8 first-round ties ("rounds"); the 8 winners compete in 4 quarter-final-round ties; the 4 winners compete in 2 semifinal-round ties; and the 2 winners compete in the final round tie.
Each tie consists of 5 rubbers ("matches"), which are played in 3 days (usually on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday). The winner of the tie is the nation which wins 3 or more of the 5 rubbers in the tie. On the first day, the first 2 rubbers are singles, which are generally played by each nation's 2 best available singles players. On the second day, the doubles rubber is played. On the third day, the final 2 rubbers are typically reverse singles, in which the first-day contestants usually play again, but they swap opponents from the first day's singles rubbers. However, in certain circumstances, the team captain may replace one or two of the players who played the singles on Friday by other players who were nominated for the tie. For example, if the tie has already been decided in favour of one of the teams, it is common for younger or lower-ranked team members to play the remaining dead-rubbers in order for them to gain Davis Cup experience.
Ties are played at a venue chosen by one of the competing countries. The right of choice is given on an alternating basis. Therefore countries play in the country where the last tie between the teams was not held. In case the two countries haven't met since 1970, lots are drawn to determine the host country.
Prior to each tie, the captain of each nation nominates a squad of four players and decides who will compete in the tie. On the day before play starts, the order of play for the first day is drawn at random. In the past, teams could substitute final day singles players only in case of injury or illness, verified by a doctor, but current rules permit the captain to designate any player to play the last two singles rubbers, provided that no first day matchup is repeated. There is no restriction on which of the playing team members may play the doubles rubber: the two singles players, two other players (usually doubles specialists) or a combination.
Each rubber is normally played in a best-of-5 set. The first four sets use a tiebreak if necessary, but the fifth set usually has no tiebreaker, so play continues until one side wins by two games (e.g. 10–8). However, if a team has clinched the tie ("round") before all 5 rubbers ("matches") have been completed, the remaining rubbers may be shortened to the best-of-3-sets, with a tie breaker if necessary to decide all three sets.
In Group III and Group IV competition, each tie ("round") consists only of 3 rubbers ("matches"), which include 2 singles and one doubles rubber, which is played in a single day. The rubbers are in the best-of-3-set format, with a tie breaker if necessary to decide all three sets.
Records and statistics
Titles by country (since 1972)
- Consecutive titles
- Consecutive finals appearances
- Most number of games in a tie
- Youngest player
- Oldest player
- Most years played
- Most rubbers played
- Most ties played
- Most rubbers won
1Players must now be aged 14 and over
Current ITF rankings
For a complete list, see ITF Rankings
|1||Czech Republic||34393.75||1 ()|
|6||United States||9271.88||6 ()|
|18||Great Britain||2492.50||30 (12)|
ATP points distribution
|Rubber category||Match win||Match loss||Team bonus||Performance bonus||Total achievable|
|Singles||Play-offs||5 / 101||15|
|Final||75||753||1254||150 / 2253 / 2754|
|Cumulative total||500||500 – 5353||6254||6254|
|Final||95||355||95 / 1305|
ATP Points distributed from 2009 onwards
Only World Group and World Group Play-Off matches and only live matches earn points. Dead rubbers earn no points. If a player does not compete in one or more rounds he will receive points from the previous round when playing at the next tie.
1 A player who wins a singles rubber in the first day of the tie is awarded 5 points, whereas a singles rubber win in tie's last day grants 10 points for a total of 15 available points.
2 For the first round only, any player who competes in a live rubber, without a win, receives 10 ranking points for participation.
3 Team bonus awarded to a singles player who wins 7 live matches in a calendar year and his team wins the competition.
4 Performance bonus awarded to a singles player who wins 8 live matches in a calendar year. In this case, no Team bonus is awarded.
5 Team bonus awarded to an unchanged doubles team who wins 4 matches in a calendar year and his team wins the competition.
- John Grasso (September 2011). "Davis Cup". Historical Dictionary of Tennis. Scarecrow Press. p. 79. Retrieved 8 December 2011.
- "Davis Cup Grows by a Third". daviscup.com. Retrieved 5 December 2010.
- 6,000 join Malmö Davis Cup protest. The Local 7 March 2009.
- Crowd ban 'risks bolstering extremists' . The Local 7 March 2009.
- "Davis Cup Rules & Regulations - 2012 (English)". Archived from the original on 20 November 2012. Retrieved 20 November 2012.
- "IX. Emirates ATP Rankings" (pdf). 2013-07-01. Retrieved 2013-07-17.
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