Davis Cup Explained

Davis Cup Explained

Davis Cup has been labeled the World cup of tennis because it is a men’s tennis tournament played between International teams. It is run by the International Tennis Federation (ITF), and it is contested by 16 competing countries in a knockout format.


In 1899, four members of a tennis team from Harvard University in the United States wished to challenge the Brits tennis players to a competition. After contacting the Brits and they agreed, the Harvard tennis player drafted a tournament format, and then designed a trophy to serve as a reward for winning.

Initially, the tournament was only played by U.S.A and Britain, but by 1905, the tournament has extended to include 5 more countries namely: Belgium, Austria, France, Australia, and New Zealand


All the national teams in the world are seeded based on their rankings. The rankings are released by the ITF annually. The 16 highest ranked countries are grouped into 4; the 4 groups called the world cup groups. The other teams that can’t make it into the world cup groups are then drafted to compete in one of the three regional zones which are: Americas, Asia/Oceania, and Europe/Africa.

The Zone Groups are divided into three regions: Americas, Asia/Oceania and Europe/Africa. Within each region there are either three or four divisions, Group I being the highest and Group IV being the lowest.

The 16 teams in the world cup groups then compete for the Davis Cup. The losers of the first-round matches are sent to the World Group playoff round, where they play along with winners from Group I of the regional zones.

The eight nations that win their World Group first round ties progress to play in the quarterfinals, semi-finals and subsequent final, at which the winning team is crowned champion. The World Group play-offs decide promotion and relegation between the eight first round losers from World Group and eight winners from Zone Group I.

The play-off round winners play in the World Group for the next year’s tournament, while the losers play in Group I of their respective regional zones.


A team consists of four players designated by the team’s coach. The team coach will decide who plays a match. Ties and Rubbers are two terms used in the Davis Cup. A tie is used to refer to an elimination round while a Rubber is used to designate an individual match.

Davis Cup ties are played over three days, Friday to Sunday. There are five matches, known as rubbers, the winner being the first to win three rubbers.

The competition begins with two singles rubbers on the first day (Friday), a doubles rubber on the second day (Saturday) and finally two singles rubbers on the third day (Sunday). All rubbers are the best out of five sets and the home nation chooses the venue and court surface.

There are four players in each team. During the final there are five matches, and the players take it in turns to play in them. The winner is the team who wins most matches.

Some of the best players in tennis singles have also lifted the Davis Cup (Best players in ATP History)


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