Fans’ guide to the Davis Cup


Originally published on: 26/02/10 14:56

When theres nothing happening on the ATP Tour for a whole seven days that usually means its Davis Cup week.

Mid-September is traditionally the semi-final stage of the competition and this weeks World Group ties will see Spain take on the US and Argentina play Russia.

As well as those two, there are eight play-offs with a heck of a lot riding on them guaranteed World Group tennis in 2009.

The lowdown

Were at the semi-final stage of the World Group knock-out competition. Spain take on the US in Madrid and Argentina host visitors Russia in Buenos Aires. As well as those two fixtures, there are eight World Group play-offs that means the eight winners of those one-off matches will qualify for the 16-nation World Group in 2009. The losers will be playing their Davis Cup tennis in 2009 in zonal divisions. The eight play-offs are (home team first):

Chile v Australia
Great Britain v Austria
Switzerland v Belgium
Croatia v Brazil
Israel v Peru
Netherlands v Korea
Romania v India
Slovak Republic v Serbia

OK, sitting comfortably? A whopping 127 nations entered the Davis Cup in 2007, but only 16 fight it out in the World Group. They compete in a knock-out format with ties played over four weekends in February (R1), April (QF), September (SF) and November (final). The rest are split into three regions: Americas, Asia/Oceania and Europe/Africa. To get into the World Group nations must fight their way through regional ties eight teams will qualify for the World Group play-offs from the Zonal Group I sections (two nations from Asia/Oceania Group I, two from Americas Group I, and four from Europe/Africa Group I). Those eight nations play-off against that years World Group first round losers with the winners guaranteeing World Group tennis the following year. Clear as mud!

Most Davis Cup ties last three days from Friday to Sunday. This weeks ties take place from Friday 19-Saturday 21 September at venues around the world.

The Spaniards have chosen to host their semi against the US at the inspirational 21,000-seater Madrid bullring, Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas. “It is going to be an unforgettable experience, says Spains No.1 Rafael Nadal. Check it out for yourselves. Argentina have an equally intimidating arena lined up for their Russian visitors the 14,000-capacity Estadio Parque Roca in Buenos Aires. Both ties will be played on clay the home nation gets to choose the playing surface for the weekend.

In the World Group, World Group play-offs, and Groups I and II each tie is contested in a best-of-five matches format. On the first day (Friday) there are two singles matches, on Saturday a doubles is played and on Sunday the reverse singles take place. All matches are best of five sets. In Groups III and IV, ties are played over two days (Friday and Saturday) and are the best of three matches two singles on Friday and a doubles the day after. These matches are best of three sets.

Route to the semis?
Spain have been in impressive form this year, recording two away victories a 5-0 thrashing of Peru and a 4-1 demolition of Germany. The US have two 4-1 victories under their belt against Austria and France. Argentina thrashed Great Britain 4-1 in round one and followed that up with a 4-1 success against Sweden. The Russians have been less impressive, scraping through with two 3-2 victories against Serbia and the Czech Republic respectivley.

The Americans lead the way in terms of greatest number of Davis Cup titles with a whopping 32 since the competition began in 1900. They are also the defending champions after beating Russia in the 2007 final. Russia and Spain have both won the trophy twice, while Argentina are yet to taste Davis Cup glory.

Oh yes in spades. Unlike the womens equivalent, the Fed Cup,
the stars come out to play when the Davis Cup rolls around, although theyre not slow to moan about its place in the calendar, the fact that there are no ranking points on offer (this is about to change) and the problems associated with numerous changes of surface during one season. Bless. Anyway, world No.1 Nadal will be leading Spains bid to reach the final, while Roger Federer will be hoping to help preserve Switzerlands World group status when they take on Belgium. World No.3 Novak Djokovic is turning out for Serbia this weekend, while the fourth best player on the planet, Andy Murray, is in action for GB at Wimbledon. And so it goes on the only big names missing this weekend are American James Blake (exhaustion) and Marat Safin, who has skipped the Russia-Argentina semi to concentrate on his ranking.

Its difficult to see past a Spanish victory in Madrid. Nadal will be back on his beloved clay, cheered on by 21,000 crazy Spaniards and Blake has pulled out of the tie leaving Andy Roddick and Sam Querrey to face the music on a surface theyre not exactly at their best on. To make matters worse, doubles expert Bob Bryan is injured and is likely to be replaced by Mardy Fish. We say 4-1 to Spain, could even be a whitewash. Things are bound to be tighter in Buenos Aires, but we reckon Argentina will extend their amazing unbeaten stretch at home
they havent lost on Argentine soil since 1998 and David Nalbandian has never lost a Davis Cup singles or doubles in front of his own fans. Juan Martin Del Potro is likely to play in the No.2 slot for Argentina and he’s won four singles titles this summer! Itll be close, but we say the Argentines will squeak it lets say 3-2.

Betting (to win Cup outright)
Spain 13-10
Argentina 9-5
Russia 18-5
USA 20-1
(odds from

If following tennis on the internet is your thing then head to the official Davis Cup website where youll find live scoring and Davis Cup radio.

Yes. For details of who, where and when visit the Davis Cup website. Click on the Ties section and find the tie you would like to watch in the list. If TV details are available, you will see a link on the right hand side of the page. You can also click on the Tie Preview, which will bring up the tie details, and you will see a link to details of TV coverage for that tie.

Little known fact
The youngest player ever to have played Davis Cup tennis is Mohammed-Akhtar Hossain who turned out for Bangladesh at the tender age of 13 years and 326 days. The oldest swinger in DC tennis is Yaka-Garonfin Koptigan who represented Togo aged 59 years 147 days against Mauritius.


Tim Farthing, Tennishead Editorial Director & Owner, has been a huge tennis fan his whole life. He's a tennis journalist and entrepreneur as well as playing tennis to a national standard. He also helps manage his local club and volunteers for his local tennis organisation. He's a specialist in content about the administration of professional tennis and tennis coaching for all levels.