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History of Davis Cup
With more than 100 years of tradition behind it, Davis
Cup by BNP Paribas is the premier team competition in
tennis, as well as being the largest annual international
team competition in sport. The symbol of this prestigious
event is the beautiful silver Davis Cup trophy, donated by
Harvard student Dwight Filley Davis in 1900.
While only two nations, the United States and the British
Isles, participated in the first three competitions, interest
grew and by 1913, an additional six nations had joined
them. Participation continued to grow steadily, with
entries reaching 50 nations in 1969 and topping 100
nations for the first time in 1993. Today, more than
120 nations regularly compete in Davis Cup.
Davis Cup is a recognised institution in world tennis,
as influential today as it was instrumental in the sport’s
growth. The simplicity of its unchanged format has
provided the framework for one of the most successful
and famous competitions in sporting history. Ties consist
of five rubbers over three days: two singles on the first
day, the doubles rubber on the second and the two reverse
singles on the third and final day. All live rubbers are
played over the best of five sets with no tiebreak in the Davis Cup trophy
final set.
to win promotion and avoid relegation. The successful
From the beginning, the Davis Cup has always attracted nations in Group I of these regional zones join the eight
the leading players and in 2009, the world’s leading players World Group first-round losers in the World Group Play-
again answered their nation’s call, just as Fred Perry, offs, with the winners going on to compete in the
Rene Lacoste, Bill Tilden, Donald Budge, Rod Laver, Bjorn subsequent year’s World Group while the losers return to
Borg, John McEnroe, Boris Becker and Pete Sampras did zone competition.
in their heyday.
Prize money was introduced in the Davis Cup in 1981
The World Group is the pinnacle of the competition. when the NEC Corporation became the title sponsor, a
Sixteen nations play in a knockout format, leading to the position it held for 21 years. In January 2002, BNP Paribas,
Davis Cup Final in early December. The remaining nations already an international sponsor, assumed the role of title
compete in Groups I to IV, divided across three regional sponsor. The total compensation to the participating
zones: Americas, Asia/Oceania and Europe/Africa, and aim nations for 2010 amounts to around US$9.5 million.
Introduction 9
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