After a century of Davis Cup finals in which one country travelled to another to play over three days, five rubbers, with all of the matches best-of-five sets, last week everything changed. Instead, the three preceding rounds over the course of a year were banished, and 18 teams assembled in Madrid for a one-week Battle Royale. Spain won, beating Great Britain in the semi-finals and Canada in the final, and the atmosphere in both ties was excellent. Other matches, not involving Spain, saw a lot of empty seats.
The idea was to make it easier for top players to play, elevate the numbers of countries interested in finals week, and take advantage of eye-watering investment from Gerard Pique’s Kosmos Group.
But did it work? Having witnessed the format throughout the week, both courtside and on television/radio from afar, The Tennis Podcast team of Catherine Whitaker, David Law and Matt Roberts give their verdicts on this week’s show.
Roberts grills ITF chief David Haggerty on the decision to allow wildcards to play, whether hosting the event in one country for multiple years is fair, and what will be done to correct some of the event’s issues in year one.
We hear from Pique himself on his long term vision for a September date over two weeks, with both men and women playing.
And Roberts speaks to New York Times writer Christopher Clarey, who has been covering Davis Cup since the 80s, to ask for his views.
The Tennis Podcast is a crowdfunded show produced weekly throughout the year, daily at the Grand Slam tournaments and daily at all of the year-end final events. Production is in association with The Telegraph. More than 120 editions of the podcast have been published in 2019.