A year ago today – 18 November 2019 – was no ordinary day in Davis Cup history. It was the opening day of the Davis Cup by Rakuten Madrid Finals and the moment the competition, boasting the most ambitious reforms in its history, took its place on the sporting calendar. For the first time, the best 18 teams in the world congregated in one place and prepared to battle it out for the title of world champions. It was an emotion-fuelled week, the memories of which we will be reliving this week.
The Caja Magica was filled with music and dancing in celebration of nearly 120 years of Davis Cup history, the quality of tennis it has produced and the values for which the competition stands and continues to showcase.
Further musical accompaniment was provided by internationally renowned DJ Alan Walker as part of a spectacular opening ceremony ahead of an eagerly anticipated opening encounter between Russia and Croatia on Centre Court.
As excitement grew among supporters, a parade of more than 90 players, including distinguished competitors who are steeped in Davis Cup history such as Spain’s Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic of Serbia and Great Britain’s Andy Murray, illuminated the arena.
More and more stellar names of tennis – the likes of France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gael Monfils, Australians Nick Kyrgios and Alex de Minaur, Italian duo Fabio Fognini and Matteo Berrettini, Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman and German pair Jan-Lennard Struff and Philipp Kohlschreiber – spilled onto court.
With those sporting personalities came heightened eagerness of the competition’s new Finals format. Madrid had been transformed into the capital of tennis, with some of the planet’s best players set to represent their countries during a week-long extravaganza as 18 nations competed for the title of world champions.
As the opening ceremony gave way to on-court action, two teams more than any others on day one created a buzz. Russia and Canada, their ranks loaded with talent and potential future leaders of the sport in the form of Andrey Rublev, Karen Khachanov, Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime, seized their opportunity to shine, as Croatia and Italy respectively were defeated.
The quest for a quarter-final place had begun, as had an event which attracted media representatives from 25 countries, with more than 600 journalists ready cover one of the most exciting weeks in Davis Cup history.