The Davis Cup 2.0
This month we get to tear open a shiny new box that is the updated format of the Davis Cup, “The World Cup of tennis!” Taking place in Madrid over one week, from November 18-24, shoes will melt and hearts will break on the hard, unforgiving surface of the wonderfully named La Caja Magica (The Magic Box).
To tennis non-tragics, by which I mean most people who only watch the odd grand slam, the Davis Cup has always been a head scratcher. It brings to mind such glittering rivalries as Costa Rica versus New Zealand, Slovenia versus Belarus and Kazakhstan versus Bosnia and Herzegovina – heavyweights of international sport, glistening gem mines of irresistible talent.
It used to pop up on our calendar every few months, as we played some random Eastern European country, who we may never have heard of but strangely knew all their best tennis players, and it would be the Lleyton Hewitt show for a while. Then it would disappear again until we were suddenly in some sort of final.
Now there is a structure the everyday hero can follow. Eighteen countries, one week, winner takes all. Basically, what every other sport has been smart enough to do for years. Traditionalists, like John Newcombe, might have been blowing up about it, but should we really be paying any attention to our former tennis greats? I think Margaret Court put paid to any of that.
Tennis has a bit of a cricket complex now – there is so much of it, it’s hard to care about anything – and given kids are groomed from a young age to be superstars, there are very few rags to riches stories anymore, so the romance is dead. I can see some candlelight dinners flaring up for the casual fan in Madrid though. Some magica. There will be upsets (hopefully). It will be great (hopefully).
Australia are in Group D, with Belgium and Colombia. While I honestly couldn’t tell you a good player from either of those countries, curiously there is a Robert Farah playing for Columbia. I can’t say definitively that it’s the former West Tigers’ rake, but I can’t confirm it’s not either.
We will of course have our hopes resting on the capable shoulders of Alex ‘The Demon’ de Minaur and those of the man main-stream sports commentators love to hate, Nick Kyrgios. He is a divisive figure, but how can one love Hewitt and dismiss Kyrgios? Are you forgetting something? Yes, you are, but that’s the wonder of sport. Memories are short. About two weeks, according to Chris Judd, which is a good thing for him, considering his attempts to render opposition players unconscious via pressure point.
But come the Davis Cup, we will not be cheering Nick Kyrgios or The Demon, we will be cheering Australia, and we are a very patriotic bunch. Especially if we’re winning.