For the past few weeks, the Tennis Channel has been showing some classic Davis Cup matches, as well as highlights from last year's event, such as the U.S.-Spain semi and the Argentina-Spain final.
I've been checking out the matches when I can, or if I can't, I might DVR it if it's a good one. (DVR can be used as a verb nowadays, right?) Anyway, I got to record a match between Stefan Edberg and Boris Becker in the 1989 finals on Becker's home turf in Germany. "Boom Boom" blasted Edberg off the court in that match, weeks after losing to the Swede in the Masters finals.
Those two played a lot against each other over a stretch of a few years and were playing against each other in their second Davis Cup final in a row. Becker's team went back to back capturing the Cup in '88 and '89, But don't feel bad for Stefan: He's got his share of Cups, too.
But I have to tell you: If this week's Davis Cup lineups for Sweden and Germany are any indicators, I don't see those once-dominant nations pulling out many victory laps in the future. Those Cups they won in the '90s could be it for a while.
Did you see the lineup Mats Wilander (also a Davis Cup hero) is trotting out against Israel? It's pretty rough: He's counting on Thomas Johansson and Andreas Vinciguerra to lead the team in singles, both who are coming off pretty big injuries (which is nothing new for Andreas). Israel's definitely the favorite in my mind, believe it or not, with its team of journeymen led by Dudi Sela.
Germany is going up against Austria, and is starting Rainer Schuettler and Nicolas Kiefer. While those two may have been top tenners in the past, that's definitely in the rearview mirror. It'll be a dogfight, when in reality it shouldn't be.
It's something to see, watching a once-dominant nation fall off (speaking from experience as a Team USA fan!), but I guess those teams led by Edberg and Wilander and Becker set such a ridiculously high standard. Check this out, though: Between Germany and Sweden, since 1990, there have only been five Slams won by a player from either one of those countries on the men's side: two apiece by Edberg and Becker, and the Australian Open in 2002 by Johansson. That's some pretty low numbers counting the players from those countries that have reached the top 10, and even top five, over that time.
I guess it's tough to be playing in the shadows of two of the all-time greats. But you have to break out at some point.
An old friend of mine and I used to talk tennis for hours, whether it was our own games or what was happening in the pros. I've started Tennis Talk, Anyone? to, well, talk tennis with an even broader crowd! My name is Van Sias and I've been playing for 20 years now, and not only am I player, I'm a huge fan of the game as well: pro, amateur, you name it. I'll post links to news items related to the sport, and offer my own personal opinion, predictions and hopefully get some of yours as well.