Thanks to the encouragement of my wife, and our friend Paula who lives in Madrid, I am in Madrid to attend the first edition of the ITF’s new, revamped Davis Cup. Full disclosure: I’m not a fan of the changes, or the motivations behind them, but the opportunity came up to see this historic change in the tennis firmament and I took it. While I’m old enough to remember the Challenge Round, my objections to the changes are, I believe, rooted in soundly based disagreements.
But I’m not here to rant about things that cannot be changed (back) at this point. The idea is to see how well Gerard Pique’s Kosmos Group’s reimagined worldwide national tennis competition works, or doesn’t. I can be open-minded. Really.
More on the atmosphere at Madrid’s Caja Magica, the site of the Madrid Open, later this week.
There is a presence of Davis Cup around Madrid, but it’s far, far less obvious than what Americans might see in a city hosting most large, international sporting events, and way less than the stultifying omnipresence a Super Bowl brings to a host city, or the town of a participating team for that matter.
As the photos show, there are themed recycling kiosks (huh? and why is it only in Spanish for an international competition?), a small welcome desk at the airport, and some rather odd, random mentions of team members in the Metro. After a day and half here that’s all that I’ve seen of Davis Cup marketing.
That is less than overwhelming, and less than convincing enough to convey the point that this is to be “the week of people’s lives,” as Pique has wished it to be. Marketing is not the same as the experience, however, whatever the marketers might say, so we’ll have to wait and see…
The burning questions: Will the matches still be called rubbers and the individual team matchups called ties? Will those terms be held over, or will they become things of the past, too?