On 12th March, the ATP Tour announced the shutting down of the tennis season for six weeks, i.e. up to 20th April as a precautionary measure against the Coronavirus pandemic. The same day, the ITF also announced it would be postponing all its events at least up to the same, aforementioned week.
Ironically, a short while after both these tours made these declarations on social media, Davis Cup also made an announcement: the draw for the event’s finals that is to be played in November, later this year. Usually, a huge thing in the scheme of things, since the tournament structure has been revamped, Davis Cup draws have drawn even more attention to themselves than before.
And, had the tour continued on without being affected by the Coronavirus fall-out, the unveiling of the Davis Cup draw would have been just another cog in the non-stopping tennis season wheel. But not only did the timing of the announcement but also the way the tournament went on about it – all business-like – did not sit well with the overall circumstances prevalent in the whole wide world, including that of tennis’.
Granted that the Finals are nine months away and hopefully, the scenario around the pandemic would have changed for the better. But in the time being, could the tournament not have postponed its pre-determined draw schedule by at least a day in solidarity? Solidarity, not with the entire globe that is shutting itself down as country after country is entering into lockdown to protect itself.
But, with its own fraternity that had not come to terms with the complete closure of the tour despite all indications heading in that direction. The draw’s presentation was not without traction, though. It generated interest and it drew comments and reactions about each group’s strengths and loopholes.
It also separated the Davis Cup from the rest of the tour – all over again – while pointing out the obviousness that seemed to have been momentarily side-lined but which cannot be done without, since its recent evolution.
That, the Davis Cup is not the 102-year-old grand old edifice of men’s tennis anymore. It has become an outlier as much as it remains a part of the professional tennis itinerary. And, in spite of still being under the ITF’s purview, the reality is that it’s a privatised event on which the ITF’s hold is merely titular, and where stakes are solely driven inwards rather than holding a wider perspective. Photo Credit: Paul Zimmer/Davis Cup