The UEFA Cup was devalued in football back in 2009 and now Tennis has reached the same stage with the Davis Cup. In an age of greed, more money and razzmatazz the Davis Cup has lost out. We shouldn’t be surprised really that is how it is in this day and age.
The competition’s format is getting an overhaul and being replaced by an 18-nation World Cup-style event, to be held in Madrid in November 2019. The new look will include rubbers being best of three sets, made up of two singles and one doubles. The ITF has agreed a deal with Kosmos, which is spearheaded by Gerard Pique. The very fact Pique is involved has raised eyebrows and as a natural reaction, we are all very wary why a football player wants to get involved with tennis. Is it for the love of the game? We all very much doubt it.
As Croatia, led by Marin Cilic and Borna Coric triumphed on French turf a few weeks ago to win the last of a kind, it brings with it an end to an era for Davis Cup tennis. It is sad really. As a kid, I remember growing up with the Davis Cup being a huge competition. I remember that famous tie as Britain returned to the World Group for the first time in seven years under the guidance of Henman and Rusedski in Birmingham. They narrowly lost to the USA with Todd Martin and Jim Courier getting it done back in 1999. There was a fantastic buzz in Birmingham for that tie though and it bought the competition back to life for the Brits. In 2015, Andy Murray went unbeaten in both singles and doubles to win the Davis Cup for us, the first time we had won it since 1936! These unique atmospheres will be a thing of the past now, with no home court advantage as such.
I am not the most patriotic these days but can still fully understand why so many players and fans alike are opposed to the change. Yannick Noah is understandably livid, a player who understands the competition as it is in all its glory. His is the current captain of the French side and a former player in the DC. After his team lost to Croatia in this years final, Noah was quoted as saying (and I agree) that:
“We have people who have decided it doesn’t matter, I don’t know if they don’t know, or they don’t care. But as I told the (ITF) president I’m not from his world.
When people tell us it’s still going to be the Davis Cup, they are lying.
We talk about money but how much is it worth for the ball boy, who is from here, to shake the hand of Lucas Pouille and have a picture with him?”.
I make him right and it sums up the general feelings for me. I know none of us like change but you cannot blame a large chunk of the tennis world for being dubious of this ‘new look’. It is a competition that has always been steeped in tradition and history and that looks like it will change forever. Or for 25 years at the very least, when the contract expires.
Andy Del Potro