Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals

Davis Cup History (III): Two revolutions in four decades

Thursday, August 29th, 2019

The Davis Cup has undergone two great transformations in the last 40 years, triggered by the increasing number of countries willing to compete in the competition and by time evolution.

The first one arrived in 1981 with the creation of the World Group. The second one arrived in August 16th, 2018, with the approval of the new format and the Davis Cup by Rakuten Madrid Finals.


·  In 1981 the World Group was born: the 16 best teams of the world were put in this category while the rest were distributed in regional groups (Zone Groups) that competed amongst themselves trying to gain promotion - and avoid relegation.


·  1981 was also the beginning of sponsorship in the Davis Cup. NEC was their first sponsor, which allowed them to distribute cash prizes to the participating countries for the first time.


·  The Swedish tennis players, led by Mats Wilander and featuring a very young Stefan Edberg, sparkled with their own light. They competed in seven consecutive finals, winning three titles (1984, 1985 and 1987). Back in the day, the country then known as the Federal Republic of Germany took over with another legend, Boris Becker.


·  The 'tie break' was introduced in the Davis Cup in 1989 – but it was not used in the fifth set of matches until 2016.


·  The new millennium brought with it the great explosion of Spanish tennis in the Davis Cup. After winning the first title of its history in 2000, Spain managed to compete in another six finals. Rafa Nadal became the youngest player to win an individual match for the champion team in 2004 in Seville at 18 years and 6 months - and with his help four more titles were won.


·  The rest of the 'Big Four' singles players didn’t want to fall behind. And the first titles came for Serbia (2010), Switzerland (2014) and Great Britain (2015) with the indispensable contribution of Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andy Murray, respectively.


The 16th of August 2018 at its Annual General Meeting in Orlando (Florida, USA), the International Tennis Federation (ITF) approved the new format with 71.43 per cent of the votes. The Davis Cup begins a new era.