March 11, 2010

The Davis Cup in trouble?

By: Sonny Bunch

A recent post over at the Fan House asked if the Davis Cup — tennis’s annual tournament that stretches on for nine months out of the year and pits teams of players grouped by nations against each other — is in trouble:

The reasons [the top players in the world] gave [for not playing] were injury, poor schedule-fit, fast-approaching old age, a need to focus on individual needs. Here’s the truth:

This was a boycott. The International Tennis Federation, which oversees the Davis Cup, is in a feud with the top players, and it’s not going to end well for the ITF.

The Davis Cup doesn’t fit anymore. The players have a hard enough time balancing the stress on their bodies with the unrelenting modern-day demands of the tour. To add four weeks of Davis Cup on varying surfaces in all parts of the world at the worst possible times throughout the year?

I don’t disagree that some changes need to be made to the Davis Cup — cut down on the number of rounds, perhaps; condense the tournament into a more tightly wrapped season — but it’s a shame that the Davis Cup has fallen in honor so much in recent years. It’s one of the most entertaining events in sport, the only time tennis fans really let loose and turn the sport into a raucous event. The format is its greatest strength: Every match takes place on the home turf of one of the nations involved. The solution the columnist offers — a world cup played at a host country — would eliminate the chief appeal of Davis Cup play. It’d be a shame to see the tournament continue to suffer due to player disinterest, but it’d be an even bigger shame of the International Tennis Federation to do serious damage to the format by styling a future tournament on soccer’s World Cup.