First of all, I’m very excited to be writing my first post for my Sportsideo blog! I’m thrilled about this opportunity and plan to blog often so come back over and over, por favor.
As tennis fans know, this weekend is full of Davis Cup action, the US-France tie being played in Monte Carlo, Monaco, which creates the happy situation of tennis being on your TV and computer screens as soon as you get up (or often much sooner) due to the time difference.
For non-tennis-fan friends, let me quickly explain Davis Cup. It’s a competition created in 1900 by one Dwight Davis to allow countries to compete against each other – originally, just the US and Britain. (The US won handily, by the way. Get some!) Each country amasses a team of their top players, both singles and doubles, and selects members on a match-by-match basis to compete against other countries’ top players. The matches (called “rubbers”) are best of five sets, which makes the competition more serious and suspenseful than the hard court Masters series played in the US in the spring (only best of three).
One more thing – the 3-day competition, one country against another, is called a “tie.” This is confusing, but it has nothing to do with the more common meaning of “tie” (equal scores to be decided in a tiebreak).
Okay! So today we have the Bryan brothers in competition against –
Wait, there are other issues, to do with the structure/format. It seems complicated to me so I’ll quote from the ever-useful Wikipedia: Each tie consists of 5 rubbers (matches), which are played in 3 days (usually on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday). The winner of the tie is the nation which wins 3 or more of the 5 rubbers in the tie.
What this means is, there’s less of a do-or-die feel to the competition than with regular play. For instance, Ryan Harrison lost his match yesterday against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, but that doesn’t mean he’s eliminated from the competition, or that the US is. John Isner, against expectation, beat Gilles Simon, also yesterday, which makes US and France tied with 1 win each. Today, as I write this, the Bryan brothers are competing against Julien Benneteau and Michel Llodra in doubles. The Bryans are undefeated in Davis Cup doubles and are up two sets as I speak so look for the US to notch another win here!
Later today, I believe (possibly tomorrow), Harrison gets another crack at Davis Cup glory when he plays Simon. Harrison is a brash “young gun” for the US, and great things are hoped for him, but he’s also a hothead (how do we breed so many?) and prone to racquet-smashing and yelling. Why is this so common in American male players? I ponder this a lot. It doesn’t help anyone’s game – it hasn’t helped since McEnroe started it in the late 70s. It did seem to help him at times, but since then, the tantrum tradition has mainly been resorted-to by losing players. Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi weren’t tantrum throwers. Neither are the top three men in the world, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal – though Federer has a temper he learned to control very young.
Reports are that Harrison is trying to subdue his outbursts and focus on the game. Simon will be out for blood after his loss to Isner. It should be a tremendous “rubber.” USA! USA!