Reflections on Davis Cup: Something’s Got To Give
Swift off the heels of an amazing Australian Open, the premier team event in men’s tennis got underway. Per usual, the first round of Davis Cup featured much drama. Veteran Steve Darcis earned wins over Philipp Kohlschreiber and Alexander Zverev – closing out each in tiebreakers – to lead Belgium to a victory over Germany. Novak Djokovic fought through a tense start, but in time, Serbia overcame Russia. A resurgent Vasek Pospisil earned two wins versus Great Britain – though in the end, Canada lost that tie, it all wrapping up rather painfully when prodigy Denis Shapovalov lined a ball at the chair umpire to trigger a match and tie-ending default. Australia handily beat the Czech Republic. And the stars and stripes took care of business, Jack Sock, John Isner and Stevie Johnson dropping just one set to Switzerland. Those were just a few of the first round results. More can be found at DavisCup.com.
But also as per usual in Davis Cup, absence powerfully told the story. Among those not present for round one: Andy Murray, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Stan Wawrinka, Milos Raonic, Kei Nishikori. Given the proximity of Davis Cup to the Australian Open, it’s hard to blame any of these players for skipping out on round one – and all have played their share in the past.
So this piece joins in the chorus for Davis Cup reform. ITF president David Haggerty has spoken before about how the event must reinvent – ideally, right along side its sister, the Fed Cup. The idea would be to create some sort of closing competition akin to the “Final Four” in basketball, held at a neutral site. Haggerty last fall indicated that a decision on all this could be made as early as the spring of 2017, with the new plan to be implemented in 2018. To be sure, the home-and-away aspect that makes Davis Cup exciting could vanish – at least in the later rounds – but in the big picture, tennis’ team events will thrive even more if they can consistently feature the world’s best players.