Since the year 1900, the Davis Cup tennis competition has seen the best professional men tennis players compete against each other as they represent their country for the prestigious Davis Cup. The inaugural match came about when four Harvard University students challenged Britain. The Cup was named after one of the first competitors, Dwight F. Davis, and the sterling silver trophy he had designed for that first event.
The United States team has dominated this event by winning the Cup more than any other country, led in the 1980’s and 1990’s by its most accomplished player John McEnroe. The current team consists of Jim Courier as captain along with Andy Roddick, Mardy Fish, and the Bryan brothers. Unfortunately, this team has not enjoyed much recent success and the future does not look promising.
The format of the Davis Cup competition is a Round Robin event spread over several weekends at different venues in various countries. The most dominant teams are part of the World Group, with the remaining teams competing in regional events to advance into the top 16. Current year seeding and placement in the World Group are based in prior year results.
Each Davis Cup “tie” consists of two singles matches, one doubles match, and the two reverse singles as needed. All matches in a tie are known as “rubbers” and any remaining matches to be played once the tie is decided are called “dead rubbers” because the outcome is insignificant. Scoring is best of five sets with no fifth set tiebreak. The hosting team chooses venue and surface in which the tie will be played, which can be a significant advantage.
Historically the most dominant Davis Cup teams have been the United States and Australia, each with more wins and runner-up showings than any other nation. But those aren't current wins, and other countries will likely emerge as dominant. The most recent Cup went to the Serbian team, lead by Novak Djokovic. Other winners in the past few years include teams representing Russia, Spain and Croatia.
Though no longer the force it once was, the U.S. Davis Cup team holds the record for most consecutive wins from 1920 through 1926, and most Davis Cup wins with 32. Australia has appeared in the finals more than any other nation from 1938 to 1968, and has won the title second to the U.S. with 28.
The equivalent women's event is the Fed Cup.