Davis Cup sees dawn of new era

Davis cup

Madrid   The Davis Cup Finals is set to get under way here on Monday under a completely revamped format in which 18 teams will battle for the title over just seven days and at a single venue – the Spanish capital’s Caja Magica stadium.

Ten of the world’s 15 best players will be on hand in Madrid for men’s tennis’s premier international team event, which for many decades had used a tiered system in which the different World Group stages – round of 16, quarterfinal, semifinal and final – were played throughout the year, reports Efe news.

Because many considered the previous format no longer compatible with the modern game, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) approved a new model in August 2018. The driving force behind the initiative was football star Gerard Pique and the Kosmos investment group he co-founded. Under the new format, the previous multi-tiered system was replaced by a new one requiring far less of a time commitment from players.

Twelve of the teams that qualify for the finals do so by winning a two-day tie in February. They join the four semi-finalists from the previous year, while two other teams participate as wild cards. Madrid’s Caja Magica was chosen as the venue for the first two Davis Cup Finals.

Among the 15 highest-ranked singles players, Swiss great Roger Federer, Austria’s Dominic Thiem, Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas (whose teams did not qualify), Germany’s Alexander Zverev (who opposes the new format and is also scheduled to play an exhibition match in Latin America against Federer) and Japan’s Kei Nishikori (injury) will not play.

Croatian Marin Cilic, a former top-five player, will also miss the event due to a knee injury.

The 18 participants have been divided into six round-robin groups of three teams. A squad plays both of the other teams in its group in ties that consist of two singles matches and one doubles contest. All the matches will be best-of-three tie-break sets. The top teams in each group and the two best runners-up will advance to Friday’s quarterfinals, while the semifinals will take place on Saturday and the final on November 24.