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16 November 2012

Blog: Social tennis, anyone?


Photo: Martin SidorjakTomas Berdych (CZE)

by Eleanor Preston

These days, there are so many ways to enjoy a Davis Cup by BNP Paribas tie, from live streaming to Davis Cup Radio, to the iPhone and Android smartphone app, to watching TV on your sofa at home, to the thrill experienced by those lucky enough to be sat in the stadium soaking up atmosphere. Of all the ways to feel part of the action this weekend, nothing is quite like watching the Twittersphere all abuzz about Davis Cup.

Twitter, for the uninitiated, is officially called a social media platform but that prosaic description comes nowhere near doing it justice. It is a giant, seething, living, lively global conversation that crosses national boundaries and timezones and allows people all over the world to engage in way that has never been possible before. If you haven’t seen Twitter then take the time to find out a little more - you may not be inclined to tweet yourself but reading the evolving discussions can be just as much fun.

Twitter comes into its own during sporting events, especially ones like Davis Cup, where the fluctuations in players’ form and focus, the myriad possible outcomes, the sudden changes in momentum and the potential emotional impact of success or failure all ensure that there is always something to talk about at any given moment. Often, topics of conversation are marked with ‘hashtags’, which are simply words or phrases with a ‘#’ at the beginning used to draw various conversational strands together.

For example, since this year marks the 100th Davis Cup by BNP Paribas final, @DavisCup is using the hashtag #100thFinal so that Twitter followers can find tweets relating to this moment in the competition’s history. The hashtag #DavisCup serves much the same purpose and, because our wonderful Davis Cup Radio team is in place to bring ball-by-ball coverage of the final, you can also use the hashtag #DCRadio to ask the commentators questions or get them to talk about an aspect of the play that interests you. Fans have never had more opportunity to feel part of the action and the discussions on Twitter were already going strong long before a ball was struck in the final.

Tomas Berdych’s remark during the post-draw press conferences that he felt this Davis Cup final was the “biggest moment” of his career - tweeted a moment after he said it by @DavisCup - prompted an animated discussion on Twitter. “You were in a Wimbledon final!” protested one tweeter, while others countered that, since Berdych didn’t win his 2010 final at SW19 and he still had the potential to help Czech Republic win the 2012 Davis Cup, that this was arguably a career highlight. And so it went on. Ultimately, there was no right answer but, then, that was half the fun of having the conversation in the first place.

That was just the beginning, for once this intriguing final gets underway, what happens on court will provide endless food for thought and chatter. If you are on Twitter already, come and join in the conversation by following @DavisCup. If you aren’t on Twitter, then we have only question for you...why on earth not?

Ambush marketing!

by Clive WhiteJan Kodes (CZE)

As a player Jan Kodes could always be relied upon to make the most of a situation, like winning Wimbledon in 1973 when 13 of the top 15 players in the world had famously boycotted the tournament. He is evidently the same as a man.

Asked by the International Tennis Federation how winning the Davis Cup for Czechoslovakia in 1980 had changed his life, he referred the Argentine journalist in question to a book he had written on the subject, which he just happened to have with him.

“I was living in two kind of periods of tennis,” he said, “it was tennis before in the communist regime, then there was the tennis after. That's why I wrote this kind of book (“A Journey to Glory From Behind the Iron Curtain”), which I brought here.

“I'm sorry, but the book is only in English. I don't have it in Spanish. If you are interested, I'll bring you one tomorrow.”

Displaying the same alacrity he showed when intercepting a shot as a player, his old team-mate Ivan Lendl interjected: “You missed the point. You have to buy it.”

Serving their nation

By Ed PearsonThe Serve Your Nation winners

Perhaps it was an omen, but Spain won the first competition to be decided at this year’s Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Final. In a battle between fans to see who could hit the fastest serve, the Spanish threesome of Fernando, Pascual and Macarena Rodriguez hit an average service speed of 158 km/h in the second outing of a competition called Serve Your Nation.

The home trio of Jiri Havlin, Robert Novotny and Pavel Susak could only muster an average speed of 154 km/h, which means the Spanish fans had the first definitive victory to cheer about at the O2 Arena in Prague.

Serve Your Nation was introduced at this year's Davis Cup by BNP Paribas semifinals. It allows fans the chance to have their moment in the spotlight on the actual match court, where they have to fire in a serve as fast as possible.

Not that Nicolas Almagro or Tomas Berdych will be worried as they regularly smashed down first serves over 200km/h in the second singles rubber. But then, they are professionals...

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