From Bianca Andreescu winning the US Open to Denis Shapovalov winning his first ATP tour title, 2019 has been a great year for Canadian tennis.
Tennis is often thought of as an individual sport, but there are times when players come together to represent their country as a team. The Davis Cup and Fed Cup are annual highlights on the calendar so here’s what you need to know about them and their relevance to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
What are the Davis Cup and Fed Cup tournaments?
Davis Cup is the largest annual international team competition in sport. There were 133 nations entered in 2019. Similarly, Fed Cup is the world’s largest annual international women’s team tournament, with 108 nations entered in 2019.
Davis Cup was created when members of the 1900 Harvard University tennis team wanted to arrange a match between USA and Great Britain. One of the American players, Dwight Davis, designed the tournament format and purchased the tournament’s trophy with his own money. His name would become synonymous with the tournament.
The idea of Fed Cup was brought up in 1919 but did not become a reality until 1963 when it was launched as a way to celebrate the International Tennis Federation’s (ITF) 50th anniversary. Back then it was the Federation Cup before the name was shortened in 1995.
What are the formats for Davis Cup and Fed Cup?
Davis Cup took on a new format in 2019. Over the course of a week in November, the top 18 teams in the world compete in the Davis Cup Finals. This includes the four semifinalists from the previous year, 12 teams who advanced from head-to-head Qualifier matchups (known as “ties”) in February, as well as two wild card countries.
During the February Qualifiers, each tie consists of four singles matches and one doubles match (the term “rubbers” is used for matches played within a tie). A team has to win three rubbers to win the tie. These rubbers are all best-of-three sets. A team can consist of up to five players, though there is no obligation for all team members to compete in a rubber. A player can compete in a maximum of two singles matches.
For the Finals in November, the 18 teams are drawn into six groups of three for a round robin. The six teams that win their group as well as two of the second-place teams advance to the quarterfinals. The winners there move onto the semifinals with those victors facing off for the trophy. Each tie held during the Finals week consists of two singles matches and one doubles match, which are again best-of-three sets.
The two lowest-ranked teams from the round robin will be relegated to a Zone Group for next year. The teams that finish the Finals ranked 5-16 will be automatically placed into the February Qualifiers to face off against teams which earned promotion from Zone Groups.
Still confused? Watch this video to learn more about the Davis Cup format:
Fed Cup will feature a new tournament format in 2020 that is somewhat similar to the new-look Davis Cup. Dubbed the “World Cup of Tennis”, the six-day Fed Cup Finals in April will have 12 teams competing for the title: the two finalists from the previous year, the host nation, eight teams which won their best-of-five match ties at Qualifiers to be held in February, and one wildcard team. The 12 teams will be divided into four groups of three for a round robin, with the top team in each group advancing to the semifinals.
You can watch the following video to learn more about the new Fed Cup format:
Who is on Canada’s Davis Cup and Fed Cup rosters?
For the Davis Cup Finals taking place November 18-24 in Madrid, Canada will be represented by Vasek Pospisil, Félix Auger-Aliassime, Denis Shapovalov, and Brayden Schnur, who was named as a replacement for an injured Milos Raonic. The team’s non-playing captain is Frank Dancevic.
Canada’s most recent Fed Cup roster during the World Group Playoffs in April 2019 included Rebecca Marino, Leylah Annie Fernandez, Gabriela Dabrowski, and Sharon Fichman. Canada had gotten into it the World Group Playoffs for the first time since 2015 on the strength of Bianca Andreescu’s two singles victories in a tie against the Netherlands in February. Heidi El Tabakh is the non-playing captain. Rosters are typically announced close to the dates of the ties.
When are the next Davis Cup and Fed Cup matchups?
Team Canada is playing in the Davis Cup Finals in Madrid, with their first round robin tie against Italy on November 18 followed by the sixth-seeded United States on November 19.
Team Canada will be in the Fed Cup Qualifiers in February 2020, playing in Switzerland against the sixth-seeded Swiss on the 7th and 8th.
Has Canada ever won a Davis Cup or Fed Cup title?
Team Canada’s best finish in Davis Cup was in 2013 where they reached the World Group semifinals. They are currently ranked 14th in the world.
Team Canada’s best finish in Fed Cup was in 1988 where they reached the semifinals. They are currently ranked 13th in the world.
What role do Davis Cup and Fed Cup play in the Olympic qualification process?
To be eligible to compete at Tokyo 2020, players have to be part of a nominated team for three Davis Cup or Fed Cup competitions between the 2016 and 2020 Olympic Games, with at least one of those nominations in 2019 or 2020. There is some flexibility in these requirements for athletes with lengthy career commitment to Davis Cup or Fed Cup competitions or who have missed significant playing time due to injury or are new to team selection because of a recent rise in their ranking.
How will Canadian tennis players qualify for Tokyo 2020?
Olympic qualification will be largely based on the ATP and WTA ranking lists on June 8, 2020. This includes 56 spots in each of the men’s and women’s singles draws and 31 spots in the men’s and women’s doubles draws. A country can have no more than four entries per singles event and two entries per doubles event.