Davis Cup: What worked, what didn’t & what needs to change
Together with Rafael Nadal falling flat on his back on the pursuit, his triumphant team-mates running court to heap on top of him and also also a home stadium rocking with excitement, it was a familiar scene since Spain raised the Davis Cup.
Yet, while the celebrations were like many we have seen in previous decades, the host country’s first success since 2011 came at the conclusion of a week at Madrid.
Unlike before, Spain’s victory over Canada was not the only Davis Cup tie to occur in November as the championship culminated. Rather it had been the conclusion of Tennis’ of the finals self-styled as the’ World Cup.
Before it had even started a notion conceived and backed by also his Kosmos investment collection and Barcelona defender Gerard Pique, the knockout championship, faced a barrage of criticism.
And, as with any new event, especially one of such size and prestige, there have been teething problems at the Spanish capital.
But there were also many memorable moments in what was a tournament on the court.
Here, Sport investigations what worked at the finals, what did.
For years, the consensus had been.
Top gamers not turned out to play in a world group that observed house and away ties spread.
Pique, a tennis fan said to have been a promising participant, had been the catalyst for change.
But his intervention, along with also the shifting of a convention which had existed in the past format as 1981, was not welcomed by tennis die-hards, such as the player on Earth.
Swiss excellent Roger Federer resisted the shift also urged the competition shouldn’t develop into the”Pique Cup”.
Though the 20-time Grand Slam champion wasn’t current in Madrid after Switzerland failed to qualify three of another’Big Four’ did play.
Novak Djokovic, rafael Nadal and Andy Murray were the star names present since 11 of the world’s top 20 singles players also appeared at the function. Russian world number four Daniil Medvedev and German world number seven Alexander Zverev were the sole members of the planet’s best 10 who pulled qualifying.
Pique along with ITF main David Haggerty saw as a reassuring sign the existence of so many players.
“When we began a few years back with the project of the new format, what we desired basically was the best players take part in the contest. I think that was a simple truth,” Pique said.
“You saw here the top players playing and representing their states.”
Whether that will continue to be the situation largely depends if a merger with January’s 24-nation ATP Celtics – created from the men’s tour and bringing all the top-ranked players except Federer – could ever be consented to prevent a situation in which two men’s team events take place in close proximity of each other.
Try telling those competing in Madrid – as well as their compatriots who had spent some time and money traveling – as some suggested that the new format had devalued the competition.
World number one Nadal ripped around the Caja Magica as he won eight of his singles and double rubbers to inspire the Spanish.
Novak Djokovic alongside the Serbia staff were left close to tears after a dramatic quarter-final loss to Russia. In an emotional news conference article match, Djokovic’s doubles partner Viktor Troicki – that played a woeful third-set tie-break – said he believed”the worst ever” after been given the chance to”be the protagonist, only for God to take it away”.
Former world number one Andy Murray was contorted with emotion as he saw his brother Jamie and Neal Skupski try to put their nation into the final by beating Nadal and Feliciano Lopez at a decisive doubles rubber.
And try telling against Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut, that was left in tears after winning his singles rubber against Canada three times following the death of his dad, that representing his country was not of pride and honor.
Fears proved wide of the mark, even though it remains to be seen just what a finals weekend without the host nation would look like.
Patriotism wasn’t in short supply from the stands .
Clearly that spanned during the Spanish ties in which the Caja Magica stands were a sea of red-and-yellow flags as the partisan home crowd, encouraged to make sound by a jaunty brass band and a guy barking out directions through a soccer terrace-style megaphone, equaling their team towards a first Davis Cup triumph since 2011.
That understandably gave those games a flavour of this’older’ Davis Cup – and the benefit to Spain.
While other teams were well backed – notably Great Britain, Canada and Kazakhstan, thanks to the aid of the national federation – matches were played in arenas.
Even Saturday’s initial jelqing between Russia and Canada saw enormous swathes of empty red seats.
The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) provided 875 free tickets for British enthusiasts to the semi-final against Spain – in a price of about #60,000 – and British captain Leon Smith believes there should be an agreement between organisers and the governing bodies of 18 finalists to cling aid in the future.
“The most important thing about Davis Cup is always trying to keep the atmosphere,” he explained.
“Why does not that become the standard that there is X quantity of investment given to every federation to receive a core set of enthusiasts?”
Sunday and spain’s two group matches were the only ties to formally sell the 12,500 potential Manolo Santana courtroom, according to the tournament’s internet ticket portal.
“I do think the organisers overlooked an opportunity there by not providing the unsold tickets into schoolchildren and putting them in to see the matches,” British participant Jamie Murray stated in his Sport column.
“That would have been a good idea and would have subjected young kids – the future of this game as possible players and fans – to tennis”
A significant issue which arose was ridiculously late finishes in certain games with ties, while tradition dictates that the country generally stays awake until the morning.
The group tie between the United States and Italy was the most startling, eye-rubbing instance, finally ending at 04:04 local moment to become the 2nd most recent finish in top notch tennis background supporting Lleyton Hewitt’s triumph over Marcos Baghdatis in the 2008 Australian Open which ended at 4:33am.
“We anticipate that a few matches will be finished late, but obviously 4am was too late,” Pique stated.
“That afternoon all of the matches, they had been very long.
“But we will have to be creative later on. I think this is not a big issue. It is something we have to consider how we can do it.”
Britain’s Jamie Murray has implied the finals ought to be split across two venues in Madrid a year ago, enabling one court to host one tie every day instead of two sessions.
When asked if the Spanish capital’s WiZink Center may be used a year ago, or at which a fourth court could be built in the Caja M??gica, Pique reported both choices”are right are now around the desk”.
Between 800 and 1,000 British fans roared their team on with a few remaining for the whole week in the hope of seeing the 2015 winners wind victorious, in each of the four games.
Although a section still bemoaned the loss of their arrangement, Nearly all supporters appeared to savour the sense of occasion that mixing with enthusiasts from all over the world attracted.
“It is a wonderful atmosphere, we have talked to people from loads of different countries,” said Pam Flatman, that flew from Norfolk with husband Wayne along with their buddy Mac Boreham. “It brings people together and from this standpoint it’s a good thing.”
One gripe among fans of nationalities was that they felt the tournament was more geared towards the needs of armchair fans than people really in Madrid.
“There are not any screens dotted around, so there’s absolutely not any advice from the other matches,” explained Mac. “In Wimbledon you understand what is happening but you understand nothing.”
Pam included:”Scoreboards and TVs out from the concourses are necessary – and more outdoors heaters because the Madrid winter can be quite chilly. It’s been freezing standing here”
The championship also ended for all fans at the venue with a tinge of disappointment. Spain lifted the prize with many supporters having left the arena, unwilling to sit through the time-consuming and elaborate setting from the presentation stage.
Those wanting keeping reported a string of problems.
Technological glitches surfaced about the Davis Cup finals information channels – like mobile app website and stadium televisions – that ranged to significant topics of enthusiast engagement from errors that were comical.
While British number one Dan Evans’ profile featuring a faceless image instead of a photograph like everybody else was not the end of the planet, nor had been Germany’s team page explaining Zverev – absent along with a brutal vocal critic – since the’star of the their team’, the basic ability to update scores and competing players correctly was a collapse.
While Argentine Guido Pella seemingly represented Britain in their quarter-final from Germany the dozens of games were slow and wrong to update.
Selling tv rights proved to be a problem in certain major markets, with the championship not shown on a major American broadcaster and being available to television audience in a period when Eurosport stepped in to secure the rights.
Another peculiarity was the choice to set up fresh Twitter and Instagram accounts below the’Davis Cup finals’ banner rather than utilize.
Although the behind-the-scenes content was exceptional – entertaining, interactive and engaging – and – retweeted from the primary Davis Cup accounts in an attempt to construct the brand, the brand new accounts only needed a joint 60,000 followers which leads a feeling that hit wasn’t as wide as it could have been.
“Our vision is to ensure this is seen in as many places by as many people and tracked around the globe. That’s something which, again, is something we can improve,” Pique added.