PHILADELPHIA (Sports Network) -
I agree with tennis icons such as Andre
Agassi who say the prestigious Davis Cup tournament needs to be revamped to occur every two years, similar to golf's Ryder Cup event.
The Davis Cup format has remained the same for 100 years, but
let's face it, sports have changed over the last century, and tennis
is not immune to the differences.
Agassi feels that the Davis Cup competition too often conflicts
with his tight schedule...and you'd have to agree. Agassi wanted to
play Davis Cup tennis, but he's also interested in earning millions of
dollars on the grueling ATP circuit, which, this year, has a still-
laughable less-than-a-month off-season.
While competing in Melbourne at the Australian Open, Agassi all
but dismissed the idea of ever playing Davis Cup again. "I don't have
it in me anymore. I just don't," said Agassi.
The American superstar is unlikely to play Davis Cup because its
annual format will remain intact until at least 2003. "If they (U.S.
Davis Cup team) still want me past three years from now...that's
either going to speak greatly for how good I still am or how tough a
situation America's tennis is in."
"I believe there are solutions to it," said the 30-year-old
Agassi. "But a lot of people need to get together to make it happen,
and I'm just a little skeptical if that's going to happen. And I
certainly know by participating, it's just not in the cards for me."
Last year, the legend that is John McEnroe quit as U.S. Davis Cup
captain. One reason he cited for his resignation was an inability to
convince fellow tennis legends Pete Sampras and Agassi to commit to
Davis Cup in 2001.
With a brilliant record of 30-5, only Johnny Mac (41-8) has more
Davis Cup singles wins for the USA than the great Agassi.
Sampras, who turned pro in 1988, is just 14-7 in Davis Cup play,
averaging less than two Cup singles matches per year.
Davis Cup is clearly a tremendous event for the sport, it unites
fans who rally around their stars to win one for the flag. But it
really needs to be held every two years because of the increasingly-
taxing tour schedule. If a team does well in Davis Cup play, each
athlete is forced to devote four weeks out of the year in order to
participate. That seems extreme, especially when the event's dragged
out over a 12-month period. The Ryder Cup in golf is only for one
week every two years, and by the time it rolls around fans are
chomping at the bit and couldn't be more supportive, with the theatre
of it all resonating as a global sporting event.
Let's change the Davis Cup format to accommodate the game's top
performers, i.e. Agassi and Sampras. Let's stage the tourney every
two years, either before or after the Grand Slam season.
It's a thought.
Tennis fans adore Davis Cup action, but because it's so spread
out every year and staged in countries all over the globe, it becomes
very difficult for television networks and the USTA to give it proper
promotion in the U.S. I think it would be in the best interest of
players, fans and networks alike to reserve part of the year solely
for the Davis Cup in order for it to get the exposure it so richly
A revised format proposed by the likes of Agassi, Sampras and
McEnroe could only create a much more entertaining product for the
fans. A two-week tournament, with a World Cup-like atmosphere,
colorful team uniforms, a diversified, vocal, flag-waving crowd, would
be do wonders for the event. A far cry from the currently-tedious and
The top American players will return to Davis Cup...when the
format becomes more forgiving.
The 31-time Cup champion U.S. will play Switzerland in the first
round in Basel next month -- sans Pete and Andre.
Who will new American captain Patrick McEnroe throw at the Swiss?
Quite honestly, who cares?