Davis Cup tennis returns to prominence this week after a two-year break due to the coronavirus pandemic, with group stages taking place in Madrid, Turin, and Innsbruck. Following Gerard Pique's Kosmos group's lucrative but divisive takeover of the historic competition in 2018, Davis Cup transformed from home and away ties to a World Cup-style finals event.
The tournament's first edition in Madrid in 2019 was far from a flop, but attendance was low and a jam-packed program necessitated a rethink. As a result, the group stages will be held in three cities over a longer period of time before the event's culmination in Madrid next weekend. Many of the teams are strong, but with only four weeks until the completion of the competition and the start of the new season, some notable players are missing, including German No. 1 Alexander Zverev and Canadian combo Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime.
Great Britain captain Smith said: “I know there’s a lot of common feelings across a lot of the players and the captains in that everyone wants Davis Cup to be a really, really important part of the tennis calendar moving forwards. It’s got such history, gravitas. No one can control what’s happened here, but we can control what happens in the future with it and, if you talk to any of the players or the captains who’ve experienced the atmosphere, the environment is so important, whether that’s home, whether that’s away, but it’s got to be full crowds, it’s got to be what’s best for the players and the schedules. I understand that things had to change, and between the ITF (International Tennis Federation) and Kosmos they’re still trying to find what’s going to work best, but I think there’s got to be an open dialogue about what happens next in this and still trying to find a solution to make sure this remains one of the most important things in the calendar. For someone like myself, I’m hearing that some things might be happening next year, but I’m only hearing it second hand. If it’s true what potentially might be happening, I think it would be good to be able to talk about it before any decisions are made. There’s so many good people working for ITF, Kosmos, everyone wants it to be great, I would just like us to speak a bit more before any final decisions happen.”
Smith and his team, coached by Indian Wells champion Cameron Norrie, arrived in Innsbruck last weekend for matches against France and the Czech Republic on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.