The Davis Cup, a competition initially conceived by members of the Harvard University team wishing to challenge British players, was founded in 1899. Initially called the “International Lawn Tennis Challenge”, it expanded in 1905 to include Austria, France, Belgium, and a combined team from Australia and New Zealand. It’s since been renamed “The Davis Cup” after the beautiful silver bowl that was ordered by Dwight F. Davis to commemorate the first match. The premier men’s tennis event of the season, The Davis Cup is run by the International Tennis Federation, the tennis governing body that also manages the women’s Fed Cup. The format of the tournament has changed little since the early 80’s, when the tiered system of competition was introduced, in which the 16 best national teams play in the “World Group” and all other countries compete as a part of one of the four groups within three regional zones.
Last year, the US and British teams faced each other in San Diego in February, reminiscent of the first Davis Cup matches of the early 20th century. Led by top player Andy Murray, the squad from Great Britain beat the US in the first round – the first time they’ve prevailed since 1935. But the Americans will soon have the opportunity to get revenge, as the two teams will be paired up again in the March 6-8, 2015 games. But this time they’ll be butting heads on British soil – joined by an attending British audience not particularly keen on relinquishing the winning title. Because of Scotland’s recent move towards independence, fans questioned whether or not Murray would remain with the British team for the 2015 season, though he assured them he would stay regardless of the vote (which resulted in Scotland choosing to remain a part of the UK). Britain was ultimately removed from the quest for the 2014 Cup when they fell to Italy in April.
In this year’s semifinal round on September 12th-14th, France went head to head with the Czech Republic (who won their last meeting in 2009), and Switzerland was matched against Italy. France and Switzerland emerged from their respective pairings victorious, and will be meeting for the final matches from November 21-23rd in France. Viewers can catch the highlights of prior matches and live stream current play by clicking here, or on the Tennis Channel (local channel info).
On September 18th in Dubai, the ITF announced the draw for the 2015 Davis Cup World Group. South American rivals Argentina and Brazil will meet immediately for the first time since 1980. Japan and Canada, playing one another in the first round for the second year in a row, will be meeting in Canada. In a high-profile matchup that could feature Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic vs. U.S. Open winner Marin Cilic, Serbia will host the rival Croatian team. Italy will travel to Kazakhstan, and the Czech Republic will play Australia at home.
Until 1973, the Davis Cup had only ever been won by the United States, Great Britain, France, or Australia. Today it’s a global affair that attracts the attention of millions of tennis fans worldwide.