Great Britain’s Davis Cup players continue their 2016 competition campaign this weekend, taking on Argentina in the first of the World Group Semi-finals. So what is this long-running sporting championship and can the Brits make it to the final to defend their title?
The Davis Cup – What is It?
Billed as “the World Cup of Tennis”, this historic tournament has been taking place since 1900. Originally a competition between the United States of America and Great Britain, it has expanded over the years, and 135 nations entered the event in 2016.
The national teams are divided into a number of groups. The sixteen top-ranked nations compete in the World Group, while the rest compete in one of three regional zone groups: the Americas; Europe/Africa; and Asia/Oceania. The teams in each regional zone group are then divided into three or four sub-groups, the highest ranking of which is Group One.
The winners of the initial World Group matches progress to the quarter-finals, while the losers head into the Play-Offs. The regional zone group teams play matches to decide which of them will be promoted and which relegated from the different sub-groups. The top eight teams from the regional zone groups win places in the following year’s World Group Play-Offs, while the eight winners of the Play-Offs are rewarded with places in the following year’s World Group.
Each match is known as a “rubber”, and the teams play five rubbers (four singles and one doubles) in every tie. The first team to win three rubbers wins the tie.
What are the Teams Competing For?
In addition to prize money, the players are competing for the chance to become the holders of one of the most recognisable tennis trophies in the world. The Davis Cup, an ornate silver bowl, was commissioned by Dwight Davis, one of the four Harvard University students who set up the original tournament. Today, the trophy stands on three circular bases, each of which features silver plaques engraved with the names of winning teams.
The 2016 Davis Cup Semi-Finals – Great Britain vs Argentina
Earlier this month, the British captain, Leon Smith, announced that Andy and Jamie Murray, Dan Evans, Kyle Edmund and Dominic Inglot would be in the squad for this weekend’s semi-finals against Argentina at Glasgow’s Emirates Arena. So can the Brits win the title for the second year in a row?
Andy, Jamie and Kyle, again captained by Leon Smith, all played in the 2015 Davis Cup final, and claimed the trophy for Great Britain for the first time in 79 years. Therefore they certainly have the talent and experience to succeed in the championship this year.
Some may be questioning Andy Murray’s fitness at the moment, however. Although he won the Wimbledon men’s singles title this year and successfully defended his Olympic single’s title in Rio, he was defeated by Kei Nishikori of Japan in the quarter finals of the US Open.
Argentina won’t be easy to beat either – their squad includes Juan Martin Del Potro, the world number 64, who also made it into the quarter finals of the 2016 US Open, together with the world number 41, Federico Delbonis, who was responsible for Andy Murray’s early exit from Indian Wells in March.
However, the British players are in with a great chance of making it through to the tournament final, where they would face Croatia or France.
Do you think Great Britain can beat Argentina? Who do you think will win the Davis Cup this year? Leave a comment to let us know.