Davis Cup

The premier international team event for men’s tennis is the Davis Cup. It is organized by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and is competed by teams from different countries in a knock-out format yearly. It was also known as the International Lawn Tennis Challenge but was popularly known as the Davis Cup. The Women’s editions of the Davis Cup is the Fed (Federation) Cup.

The Davis Cup championship started in 1900 from a challenge between Great Britain and the United States. Four members of Harvard University challenged the British to a tennis match. After their respective tennis teams agreed, Dwight F. Davis, a member of the Harvard players, created a tournament format and even ordered a sterling silver trophy with his own money, which costs about $1000.

The initial match between the United States and Britain was held in Boston, Massachusetts at the Longwood Cricket Club.  The Americans won three matches which surprised the British.

The following year, both the Americans and British did not compete, but in 1902 the Americans won and the next four matches after that was won by the British. The tournament got bigger by 1905 allowing competitors from Belgium, Austria, Australasia (New Zealand and Australia combined) and France.

During the 1950 competition until the year 1967, Australia led the entire tournament, winning 15 times for the entire 18 years. By 1974, South Africa and India joined the Davis Cup and Sweden and Czechoslovakia the following year where Sweden won over Czechoslovakia.

Some of the most successful countries throughout the entire Davis Cup are United States and Australia.

Current Format

By 2013, 130 countries had joined the competition. The top 16 national teams (The World Group) compete yearly for the Davis Cup. The competition is held over four weekends during the year.

The World Group plays a four-round elimination tournament. Teams that lost the first-round matches will be sent to the World Group Playoffs round. Teams not in the World Group are designated into Zone Groups, divided into three regions – America, Asia/Oceania and Europe/Africa. In each region, there are three to four divisions, Group I being the highest and IV being the lowest. Group III and IV are week-long events played in one location. Groups are separated into round-robin pools with play-offs then deciding promotion and relegation. It is similar format of each Group but depends on the number of teams joining.

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