Wikipedia - Davis Cup

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. It is described by the organisers as the "World Cup of Tennis", and the winners are referred to as the World Champion team. The competition began in 1900 as a challenge between Great Britain and the United States. By 2016, 135 nations entered teams into the competition.

The most successful countries over the history of the tournament are the United States (winning 32 titles and finishing as runners-up 29 times) and Australia (winning 28 titles, including four with New Zealand as Australasia, and finishing as runners-up 19 times). The current champions are Russia, who beat Croatia to win their third title in 2021.

The women's equivalent of the Davis Cup is the Billie Jean King Cup, formerly known as the Fed Cup. Australia, Russia, the Czech Republic, and the United States are the only countries to have won both Davis Cup and Fed Cup titles in the same year.

The Davis Cup allowed only amateurs and national registered professional players (from 1968) to compete until 1973, five years after the start of the Open Era.

Russia and Belarus were suspended after the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.

History

The idea for a tournament pitting the best British and Americans in competition against one another was probably first conceived by James Dwight, the first president of the U.S. National Lawn Tennis Association when it formed in 1881. Desperate to assess the development of American players against the renowned British champions, he worked tirelessly to engage British officials in a properly sanctioned match, but failed to do so. He nevertheless tried to entice top international (particularly British) talent to the U.S. and sanctioned semi-official tours of the top American players to Great Britain. Diplomatic relations between Great Britain and the United States on the tennis front had strengthened such that, by the mid-1890s, reciprocal tours were staged annually between players of the two nations, and an ensuing friendship between American William Larned and Irishman Harold Mahony spurred efforts to formalize an official team competition between the two nations.

International competitions had been staged for some time before the first Davis Cup match in 1900. From 1892, England and Ireland had been competing in an annual national-team-based competition, similar to what would become the standard Davis Cup format, mixing single and doubles matches, and in 1895 England played against France in a national team competition. During Larned's tour of the British Isles in 1896, where he competed in several tournaments including the Wimbledon Championships, he was also a spectator for the annual England vs. Ireland match.

He returned to exclaim that Britain had agreed to send a group of three to the U.S. the following summer, which would represent the first British lawn tennis "team" to compete in the U.S. Coincidentally, some weeks before Larned left for his British tour, the idea for an international competition was discussed also between leading figures in American lawn tennis—one of whom was tennis journalist E.P. Fischer—at a tournament in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario.

Dwight F. Davis was in attendance at this tournament, and was thought to have got wind of the idea as it was discussed in the tournament's popular magazine, and Davis's name was mentioned as someone who might 'do something for the game ... put up some big prize, or cup'. Larned and Fischer met on several occasions that summer and discussed the idea of an international match to be held in Chicago the following summer, pitting six of the best British players against six of the best Americans, in a mixture of singles and doubles matches. This was discussed openly in two articles in the Chicago Tribune, but did not come to fruition.

Nevertheless, the following summer, Great Britain—though not under the official auspices of the Lawn Tennis Association—sent three of its best players to compete in several US tournaments. Their relative poor performances convinced Dwight and other leading officials and figures in American lawn tennis that the time was right for a properly sanctioned international competition. This was to be staged in Newcastle in July 1898, but the event never took place as the Americans could not field a sufficiently strong team. A reciprocal tour to the U.S. in 1899 amounted to just a single British player travelling overseas, as many of the players were involved in overseas armed conflicts.

It was at this juncture, in the summer of 1899, that four members of the Harvard University tennis team—Dwight Davis included—travelled across the States to challenge the best west-coast talent, and upon his return, it apparently occurred to Davis that if teams representing regions could arouse such great feelings, then why wouldn't a tennis event that pitted national teams in competition be just as successful. He approached James Dwight with the idea, which was tentatively agreed, and he ordered an appropriate sterling silver punchbowl trophy from Shreve, Crump & Low, purchasing it from his own funds for about US$1,000. They in turn commissioned a classically styled design from William B. Durgin's of Concord, New Hampshire, crafted by the Englishman Rowland Rhodes.

Beyond donating a trophy for the competition, Davis's involvement in the incipient development of the tournament that came to bear his name was negligible, yet a persistent myth has emerged that Davis devised both the idea for an international tennis competition and its format of mixing singles and doubles matches. Research has shown this to be a myth, similar in its exaggeration of a single individual's efforts within a highly complex long-term development to the myths of William Webb Ellis and Abner Doubleday, who have both been wrongly credited with inventing rugby and baseball, respectively. Davis nevertheless went on to become a prominent politician in the United States in the 1920s, serving as US Secretary of War from 1925 to 1929 and as Governor-General of the Philippines from 1929 to 1932.

The first match, between the United States and Britain (competing as the "British Isles"), was held at the Longwood Cricket Club in Boston, Massachusetts in 1900. The American team, of which Dwight Davis was captain, 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 following four matches. 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 Davis Cup competition was initially 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.

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.

From 1950 to 1967, Australia dominated the competition, winning the Cup 15 times in 18 years.

Beginning in 1972, the format was changed to a knockout tournament, so that the defending champion was required to compete in all rounds, and the Davis Cup was awarded to the tournament champion.

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 made the final; however, the final was scratched and South Africa awarded the cup after India refused to travel to South Africa in protest of South Africa's apartheid policies. The following year saw the first actual final between two "outsider" nations, when Sweden beat Czechoslovakia 3–2, and since then, many other countries have gone on to capture the trophy.

All contract professionals were not allowed to play in the Davis Cup until 1973. The tennis stars who turned professional prior to the Open Era (pre-1968) were not allowed to compete in the Davis Cup despite the fact that the Grand Slam tournaments and most tennis tournaments became Open Era events in 1968. From 1968 national registered professionals were allowed to compete under the control of their national tennis associations. In 1973 Australian players like Rod Laver and Ken Rosewall were allowed to play in the Davis Cup for the first time since 1962 (for Laver) and since 1956 (for Rosewall).

In 1981, a tiered system of competition was created, in which the 16 best national teams compete in the World Group and all other national teams compete in one of four groups in one of three regional zones. In 1989, the tiebreak was introduced into Davis Cup competition, and from 2016 it is used in all five sets.

In 2018, the ITF voted to change the format of the competition from 2019 onwards, changing it to an 18-team event to happen at the end of the season, with 71% of ITF member federations voting in favour of the change. The new format, backed by footballer Gerard Piqué and Japanese businessman Hiroshi Mikitani, was likened to a world cup of tennis and was designed to be more attractive to sponsors and broadcasters. Opposing federations included those from Australia, Germany, and Great Britain. Support for the reform was also mixed among current and former players, with some such as Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal being in favour of the new format, but others such as Rod Laver, Lucas Pouille and Roger Federer being opposed.

Davis Cup games have been affected by political protests several times, especially in Sweden:

  • 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 Rhodesian white minority government of Ian Smith.
  • 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 while 7,000 people protested against it outside.
  • After the 2008–2009 Israel–Gaza conflict, 6,000 people protested against Israel outside the Malmö city Davis Cup match between Sweden and Israel in March 2009. The Malmö Municipality politicians were concerned about extremists, and decided due to security reasons to only let a small audience in.

Russia and Belarus were suspended after the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.