Canadian team dressed in red lifts the Davis Cup trophyAP Photo/Kin Cheung
AP Photo/Kin Cheung

FAQ: What are the Davis Cup and Billie Jean King Cup?

This article was updated on October 10, 2023

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 Billie Jean King Cup are annual highlights on the calendar so here’s what you need to know about them.

What are the Davis Cup and Billie Jean King Cup tournaments?

Davis Cup is the largest annual international team competition in sport, with a record 155 nations participating in 2023. Similarly, the Billie Jean King Cup (formerly known as Fed Cup) is the world’s largest annual international women’s team tournament, with a record 134 nations entered in 2023.

  • Team Canada tennis players hold the Canadian flag
  • Felix Auger-Aliassime raises his arms in celebration while being mobbed by teammates

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 the 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.

In September 2020, the Fed Cup was renamed after tennis legend, Billie Jean King, who has been a proponent for equality in the sport throughout her career. The tournament bearing her name has the biggest annual prize fund in women’s team sports, matching that awarded in Davis Cup.

Has Canada ever won a Davis Cup or Billie Jean King Cup title?

Team Canada made history in 2022 when the country won its first ever Davis Cup title. Félix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov each won their singles matches in the final to defeat Australia 2-0 and claim the trophy. Veteran Vasek Pospisil was key in Canada getting to that final, teaming with Auger-Aliassime to win the pivotal doubles match against Italy in the semifinal. Before that, he played doubles alongside Shapovalov in the quarterfinals against Germany, another must-win match.

Canadian players and staff celebrate with the Davis Cup trophy
Team Canada celebrates with the trophy after winning the Davis Cup tennis final in Malaga, Spain, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Joan Monfort)

READ: Team Canada defeats Australia to win first Davis Cup title

It had been Auger-Aliassime and Pospisil who did the heavy lifting during the group stage in 2022 to advance Canada into the knockout stage.

Canada had first entered Davis Cup competition in 1913. Auger-Aliassime, Pospisil, and Shapovalov were the core of the Canadian team that finished as runner-up to Spain in the 2019 Davis Cup Finals.

Team Canada’s best finish in Fed Cup/Billie Jean King Cup was in 1988 where they reached the semifinals. Canada is currently ranked sixth in the world.

Who is on Canada’s Davis Cup and Billie Jean King Cup teams?

For the group stage of the 2023 Davis Cup Finals, Canada will be represented by four members of the 2022 title-winning team — Vasek Pospisil, Denis Shapovalov, Alexis Galarneau, and Gabriel Diallo — as well as newcomer Kelsey Stevenson. Pospisil is the veteran of the squad, earning his 24th Davis Cup nomination at the age of 33. He has represented Canada every year since 2011 after making his Davis Cup debut in 2008.

Shapovalov has been nominated to his ninth Davis Cup appearance. He is returning to action after missing the summer hard court season with a knee injury. For Galarneau and Diallo, it will be their fourth and third Davis Cup nominations, respectively, while Stevenson makes his debut.

Canada’s team for the 2023 Billie Jean Cup Qualifiers against Belgium was announced as Bianca Andreescu, Leylah Fernandez, Rebecca Marino, and Gabriela Dabrowski. Unfortunately, Andreescu had to withdraw after tearing two ligaments in her left ankle during the Miami Open in late March. She was replaced on the roster by Katherine Sebov, who was last part of the Billie Jean King Cup team in 2018.

They had home court advantage at Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver and came away with a 3-2 victory. Fernandez won both of her singles matches and teamed with Dabrowski to take the win in doubles, advancing Canada into November’s Finals.

Dabrowski is the veteran, having received her 17th career Billie Jean King Cup selection for the 2023 Qualifiers. Fernandez made her sixth appearance. Marino was nominated for the ninth time. Sebov earned her fourth nomination.

For the finals, taking place in Seville, Spain from November 7-12, Canada will be represented by Fernandez, Marino and Dabrowski, as well as Eugenie Bouchard and 18-year-old Marina Stakusic, who will be making her Billie Jean Cup debut for Canada. This year marks the first time Bouchard returns to the Billie Jean Cup since 2018. She has played a total of 10 matches in the tournament.

For the finals of the Davis Cup, taking place in Malaga, Spain from November 21-26, Team Canada consists of Auger-Aliassime, Pospisil, Galarneau, Diallo and Milos Raonic. Raonic is returning to the Canadian squad for the first time since 2018. He has been nominated for the Davis Cup team 14 times.

What is the format for Davis Cup?

Davis Cup took on a new format in 2019 that saw the top 18 teams in the world come together for the Davis Cup Finals in late autumn. That format was adjusted for 2022. The Davis Cup Finals now start with a group stage (September 12-17, 2023) featuring 16 teams, followed by a knockout stage (November 21-26, 2023) for the last eight teams standing.

READ: Félix Auger-Aliassime propels Canada to 2022 Davis Cup Finals knockout stage

Canada and Australia, as the 2022 champions and runners-up, respectively, were automatically qualified for the 2023 Davis Cup Finals. They will be joined by 12 teams advancing from the Davis Cup Qualifiers along with two wild card teams.

The Davis Cup Qualifiers take place in February. Each tie between two nations consists of two singles matches and a doubles match on day one followed by two reverse singles matches on day two. 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 2023 Finals, the 16 teams will be drawn into four groups of four. Each group plays their round robin in a different city. The top two teams in each group advance to the knockout stage, which takes the form of a bracket tournament, starting with quarterfinals. The winners there move onto the semifinals with those victors facing off for the trophy. Each tie during the Finals consists of two singles matches and one doubles match, which are again best-of-three sets.

What is the format for Billie Jean King Cup?

Billie Jean King Cup introduced a new tournament format for 2020 that is somewhat similar to the new-look Davis Cup. The six-day Billie Jean King Cup Finals taking place November 7-12, 2023 will have 12 teams competing for the title.

Nine of those teams advanced from the 2023 Qualifiers, which took place April 14-15. They will join Switzerland and Australia (the 2022 finalists) in the field.

The 12 teams in the 2023 Finals will be divided into four groups of three. After a round robin within the groups, the top team in each group advances to the semifinals. The winners of those matches face off for the trophy. All ties in the Finals consist of two singles matches and a doubles match.

The Billie Jean King Cup Qualifiers take place during the spring. Each tie between two nations consists of two singles matches and a doubles match on day one followed by two reverse singles matches on day two.

When are the next Davis Cup and Billie Jean King Cup matchups?

Team Canada’s next Davis Cup appearance will be the group stage of the Finals, taking place September 12-17. Canada’s group will be based in Bologna, Italy. They will take on the host Italians, as well as Sweden and Chile.

Team Canada will play in the 2023 Billie Jean King Cup Finals, taking place November 7-12 in Seville, Spain. Canada is in a group with Poland and the host Spaniards.

How do Davis Cup and Billie Jean King Cup impact the Olympics?

To be eligible to compete at the Olympic Games, tennis players must fulfill Davis Cup or Billie Jean King Cup participation requirements. During the four-year cycle leading up to a Games, they must be part of a final nominated Davis Cup or Billie Jean King Cup team and be present at ties/events for their country at least twice and one of those occasions must be in either 2023 or 2024. If a player does not meet this minimum participation requirement, a discretionary decision may be made to allow for nomination to the Olympic team if there are special circumstances at play.