The 2022 Davis Cup by Rakuten Final 8 is fast approaching, and tennis fans are more invested than ever. One of the only major tennis events to be played in teams, the Davis Cup is an important presence on the men’s tennis calendar. During this tournament, over 140 countries put forward their most talented players to battle it out over the course of an entire year.
16 teams made it through the qualifying rounds to the Davis Cup by Rakuten Finals, which take place in two parts: a group stage in four European cities and a Final 8, a three-round knockout stage in Malaga, Spain.
“In an individual sport, it has become the preeminent global team event – tennis’ version of the World Cup – with players propelled by enthusiastic crowds to pull off incredible upsets.”Rahul Kadavakolu, Vice President of Rakuten’s Global Sports Business
An exhilarating group stage in September narrowed the field to just eight knockout finalists: Italy, USA, Germany, Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, Croatia and Spain. The 2022 champions will be decided after the knockout stage taking place between November 22 and 27.
Triumphing over adversity
“Born as a contest between Great Britain and the United States, the Davis Cup now counts over 140 teams,” remarked Rahul Kadavakolu of Rakuten’s Global Sports Business. “In an individual sport, it has become the preeminent global team event – tennis’s version of the World Cup – with players propelled by enthusiastic crowds to pull off incredible upsets.”
The extraordinary display of resilience shown by the finalist teams during the group stage was what stood out to Kadavakolu.
“In September, Sir Andy Murray – who almost retired in 2019 due to a hip injury – collected his 41st Davis Cup match win for Great Britain in front of an ecstatic home crowd in his native Glasgow,” he recounted. “Team Germany – missing their top seed Alexander Zverev – put on a spirited battle nonetheless to emerge top of their group. Freshly-minted world number 1 Carlos Alcaraz battled jetlag and fatigue from the US Open just days prior to help propel Team Spain to the top of their group.”
In these sporting stories, Kadavakolu sees something that everyone can be inspired by.
“These matches showed sport at some of its most beautiful moments,” he said. “I hope you take away a sense that, as in sport, resilience is rewarded – and there’s always a chance to bounce back if we put our heart into it.”
A World Cup for tennis fans
Since partnering with the Davis Cup in 2019, Rakuten and tournament host Kosmos Tennis have been proactive in getting fans involved. In 2021, they launched the Davis Cup Fan World Cup Presented by Rakuten to strengthen the connection between supporters and their favorite players.
The event has returned in 2022, this year focusing on a theme of resilience and optimism. Fans have been sending their messages of support through the Fan World Cup website and at the group stage venues in Bologna, Valencia, Hamburg and Glasgow to be printed on special event tennis balls.
“With this year’s Davis Cup Fan World Cup initiative, we hope to serve as the bridge that connects fans, who may be supporting from the arena or from afar, and players together as one united team.”Rahul Kadavakolu, Vice President of Rakuten’s Global Sports Business
Fans’ messages were then transformed into four unique art installations symbolizing respect, friendship, solidarity, resilience and optimism. Each installation was displayed at its respective group stage venue, before traveling to the knockout stage venue in Malaga in late November to be displayed as one combined artwork.
Players, meanwhile, are also getting in on the action this year. Together with Kosmos, Rakuten produced personalized videos featuring each of the finalist teams thanking the fans directly for their support, to be delivered to everyone who submitted a message.
“The Davis Cup Fan World Cup initiative this year focuses very much on the spirit of resilience and the ability of sports to triumph over adversity,” Kadavakolu remarked. “With this year’s Davis Cup Fan World Cup initiative, we hope to serve as the bridge that connects fans, who may be supporting from the arena or from afar, and players together as one united team.”
Kosmos Tennis CEO Enric Rojas highlighted the importance of fans for the tournament, particularly for an event that travels the world as much as the Davis Cup.
“The fans are important in any competition, but they have a unique role in the Davis Cup,” he explained. “Teams need to feel the support of their fans in the stands. We know that many would like to experience the competition live and cannot be there. Rakuten gives them the opportunity to be close to their teams through this initiative. It shortens the distance between the fans and the players who are real role models for society.”
Fans can continue submitting messages until the final day of the competition on November 27, 2022.