The Davis Cup closed the tennis season for one more year and did so in style with a historic event that marked the start of a new format. From the February Qualifiers to the Davis Cup by Rakuten Madrid Finals, the 2019 Davis Cup was packed with unforgettable moments. We’ve selected some of the best.
An emotional sixth title
Spain won its sixth Davis Cup title and became the first champions of the new Finals format. Rafa Nadal, the team’s number one, was key to Spanish success, playing and winning each of his individual matches in addition to his doubles clashes, departing the Caja Mágica undefeated. Roberto Bautista, who learned of the death of his father in the middle of the competition week, was the other pillar of the team and gained enormous respect and affection from teammates, rivals and fans alike for his commitment.
A new generation that has already made history
Canada, who had already relied on its youngest players in the Qualifiers against Slovakia, demonstrated in Madrid that it is a serious candidate for the title. For the first time in history, the team made the final of the competition and did so thanks to the contributions throughout 2019 of Denis Shapovalov (20), Felix Auger-Aliassime (19), and relative veteran Vasek Pospisil (29) under the watchful eye of the youngest of all the team captains, Frank Dancevic (35).
A heart-breaking tie-break
Russia and Serbia, two of the great favourites this year, and battling for a place in the semi-finals, took their fight to the abyss of the tie-break in the decisive third set of the last of their matches: the doubles. On one side of the court was the imposing Russian pair of Karen Khachanov and Andrey Rublev. On the other, Novak Djokovic with Viktor Troicki. On the benches, veteran Tamil Tarpischev faced the wisdom of doubles specialist Nenad Zimonjic. It was tense. Serbia took the lead but missed out on two match points. In the end, Russia needed only one match point to press home the advantage.
The importance of the doubles
That the doubles were going to be a key part of this new format was evident early on, but quite how important they would be was demonstrated on several occasions in the Finals. Great Britain, with two great specialists in the form of Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski, gave a whole lesson in doubles strategy and were within a whisker of reaching the final, losing in the final moments of their semi-final against Spain to Rafael Nadal and Feliciano López 7-6, 7-6.
The epic and the mathematics
Argentina’s Davis Cup Finals produced both epic and drama. Máximo González and Leonardo Mayer battled against the German pair of Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mier in one of the longest matches of the Finals (3 hours and 18 minutes) having lost their two singles matches to the Germans. Krawietz and Mier finally triumphed 6-7(4), 7-6(2), 7-6 (18) but Argentina, under the watchful eye of Gastón Gaudio, took their reward a day later by securing, along with Russia, one of the two spots as best runners-up to make it through to the final stages.
Two committed teams
The two teams with the most Davis Cup titles – United States (32) and Australia (28) – arrived at the Davis Cup by Rakuten Madrid Finals with the commitment and professionalism they always bring to the competition. The United States, with captain Mardy Fish, failed to exit the group stage as Canada topped Group F, while Australia, with Lleyton Hewitt on the bench, finished first in Group D but also lost out at the hands of Canada – this time in the quarter-finals.
The new format brought teams from 18 nations to the same city providing a wonderful focus unprecedented in the competition. Two teams decided to train together in the preceding week as preparation for their group stage. The protagonists were the doubles pairs from Argentina (Group C) and Great Britain (Group E).
Goodbye to two illustrious characters
In between the on-court action of the Davis Cup Finals, two players with vast experience in professional tennis – and former Davis Cup champions – were honoured having announced their retirement this year. Spain’s David Ferrer and Serbian Janko Tipsarevic were applauded by all and showered with love and affection from fans and rivals alike.
The emotion of the Qualifiers… and the draw
Twelve teams received their tickets to Madrid via the Qualifiers – held on February 1–2 in 2019. For each of them, their passage to the Finals deserved an emotional celebration. Chile, emerging victorious from a complicated visit to Austria, and Colombia, who for the first time in history made it to the final stages, celebrated with special passion.
The teams then experienced a whole new sense of excitement and anticipation with the draw that determined the six competition groups in Madrid.
Eighteen sets of supporters together for the first time
The Finals brought together tennis fans from 18 nations at the same venue. From across the globe from Great Britain to Australia, from Russia to Argentina – not forgetting the enthusiasm of the local Spanish fans – all were an important part of the Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals and are a key element that continues to drive the spirit of the competition.