Thursday, 20 September 2007

Anyone for tennis?

Great Britain take on Croatia in The Davis Cup this weekend. In honour of this event Giraffe-a-licious brings you:

10 Things You Should Know About… The Davis Cup

For the bluffer:

1. The Davis Cup is an international men’s tennis tournament. Unusually for tennis, it is a team event. Players compete for their country within different divisions. The division in which each country competes, depends on their previous results.

2. The most prestigious division is known as The World Group. This consists of sixteen nations – eight of which are automatically included as a result of their progress in the World Group the previous year. The eight other places are decided by play-offs between the bottom teams from the last year’s World Group and the top teams from the lower divisions.

3. The Davis Cup is played in the form of ties between two countries. A tie consists of five matches or ‘rubbers’. One doubles and four singles matches are played over the space of three days and the team with the most victories wins the tie.

4. Great Britain’s tie against Croatia at the weekend is a World Group play-off. If Britain win they will be part of the elite group for the first time since 2003 when they lost 4-1 to Australia in the first round.

5. Tim Henman will be retiring from the sport after the tie with Croatia. His Davis Cup record stands at: Played 52 Won 38 Lost 14. He’s a legend and only the ill-informed say otherwise!

For the more knowledgeable fan:

1. Whilst Great Britain face Croatia, the Davis Cup semi-finals will also be taking place. Russia host Germany whilst Sweden have home advantage against the USA. Russia’s four team members all feature in the world Top 40, including world number 4 Nikolay Davydenko, and will be strong favourites to make the final. As will the Americans who are fortunate though to have the not inconsiderable talents of specialist doubles players, Bob and Mike Bryan – watch out for their Teletubby-esque celebrations.

2. The USA have won the trophy the greatest number of times; 31 and counting.

3. Great Britain are currently ranked 26th in the Davis Cup rankings, behind such tennis giants as Thailand, Japan and Peru.

4. The Davis Cup began life as the International Lawn Tennis challenge but was renamed the Davis Cup in 1945 following the death of one of its founders, Dwight Davis. The tournament was first held in 1900 and contested between only the United States and Great Britain, but by 1905 teams from Austria, France, Belgium and Australasia (a freakish hybrid of teams representing Australia and New Zealand) were competing.

5. The Davis Cup trophy is one of the largest in sport. It weighs in at 105kg (that’s almost two Justine Henins), stands at 110cm tall and is 107cm in diameter. Over the years it has been adapted and developed into its current ‘wedding cake’ style. The original trophy (a silver punch bowl) is engraved with the 1900-1919 winners and a tray bears the names of the countries that won from 1920-1932. This is followed by three tiers on which the winners from 1933 to the present are displayed.

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