2019 saw the 108th edition of the Davis Cup and, with it, a change to the traditional format. While the layout was different, the result was not, as Spain cruised to their sixth title.
Coming as a surprise to many, the Madrid-based tournament was overseen by Barcelona’s Spanish centre-back, Gerard Pique. He commented bluntly on the changes which were made, claiming that “sometimes things have to change, or they have the risk to die.”
While some ATP players, such as Lleyton Hewitt, came out and criticised the choice to allow Pique’s involvement, some were more accepting. Andy Murray headed into the tournament claiming he was “open to change” and urging his fellow competitors to give the new format “a chance.”
In previous years, 16 nations have competed in the World Group’s straight knockout tournament. However, with players often facing distant away ties, this has led to a large number of top players skipping matches.
As a result, the Kosmos investment group, fronted by Pique, decided to begin a new era of international tennis.
The tournament was staged at the hard courts of Madrid’s Caja Magica, and followed a similar format to both the rugby and football World Cups. There was an initial group stage, with the top two sides from each then facing off in the quarter-finals.
But how did the tournament go?
Well, out of the traditional ‘Big Four’ players that dominated tennis for so many years, three competed. Roger Federer’s Switzerland could not make it through the qualifiers, but Andy Murray, Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic all represented their nations in Madrid.
They played out some very mixed tournaments though. Murray and the British team fought their way to the semi-finals, though the Scot was not as influential as he perhaps might have hoped.
Though he defeated Dutchman and world number 179, Tallon Griekspoor, in the opening round, he spent the majority of the tournament on the sidelines. Kyle Edmunds and Dan Evans both carried Britain through a number of games, including a stellar performance against a troubling Kazakhstan. However, their efforts were ultimately in vain, as the latter was easily defeated in the semi-final by Nadal.
The Serbian side which contained 16-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic suffered the heartbreak of the tournament. They fell to Russia in the quarter-finals, despite Djokovic and Troicki having three match points overturned.
However, Rafael Nadal did not disappoint.
The world number one was as passionate and determined as he always is, really showing true professionalism throughout. He won all eight of his singles and doubles matches, and led the Spanish team to victory in front of their home crowd.
He took to the court after Roberto Bautista Agut sealed his win against Canadian teenager, Felix Auger-Aliassime. The doubles round was not necessary, as the clinical Nadal overcame Denis Shapolav’s best efforts to battle the Mallorcan.
Though the tournament was questionable, with a number of the games going into the early hours of the morning, it was certainly an exciting affair. Emotions reached incredible heights, and they were exceeded by the quality of tennis, which was nothing short of outstanding.