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Davis Cup: This is the biggest tennis tournament in the world – tennis

How did the Davis Cup become the biggest team competition in the world?

The Davis Cup was first held in 1900 as a competition between the United States of America and Great Britain. Today, 123 years later, it is the largest annual international club competition in the world, with 155 countries participating this year.


The idea for the Davis Cup dates back to four Harvard students who wanted to challenge Great Britain to a duel in 1899. After both tennis federations agreed, Dwight Davis, one of the four students, designed the tournament concept.

In 1900 there was the first edition of the tournament. The USA played Great Britain, who at the time were still competing under the name “British Isles”. At Boston’s Longwood Cricket Club, the American quartet surprisingly won the first three matches and were uncontested in the lead. The tournament was originally called the International Lawn Tennis Challenge, but was soon named the Davis Cup after Dwight Davis.

Davis Cup development

In 1905, the Davis Cup was expanded to include France, Austria, Belgium and Australia, a combined team of players from Australia and New Zealand. In the 1920s, more than 20 countries participated in the contest regularly.

The early years were dominated by the United States, Britain and Australia until 1927, when France embarked on a glorious six-year winning streak.

From the 1930s the United States, Great Britain, and Australia regained control, and it wasn’t until the 1970s that another country prevailed again. In 1969, one year after the start of the open era in tennis (since then, not only amateurs but also professional players have been admitted to the most important tennis tournaments), 50 countries competed in the Davis Cup for the first time.

In 1981, the Davis Cup format was changed and a world group of 16 nations was created. The remaining states were divided into regional groupings where ups and downs were possible. A new era began in the 1980s, with Sweden winning three titles. But Germany has also managed to win three times in six years. In 1993, the Davis Cup included 100 countries for the first time.

Davis Cup finals from Rakuten

The current tournament format has been in place since 2019. In the final round, 16 teams, divided into four groups, play against each other. The top two places in each group advance to the quarter-finals. In the final, two singles games and one doubles game are played. A win is worth 1 point, and whoever gets 2 points first wins. You will play four singles and one doubles matches in the qualifying round. Accordingly, the winner needs three points. All matches are played according to two winning combinations (“Best of Three”).