sistaff
Thursday September 15th, 2011

Spain's Davis Cup team takes on France after knocking off Belgium and the U.S. on the way to the semis. (Rafa Alcaide/EPA)

Davis Cup always arrives at the most inopportune moments throughout the tennis season. Particularly now, with the U.S. Open just wrapped, it's difficult to muster the energy to care about the Davis Cup semifinals (and other playoff ties) taking place starting Friday all over the globe. Well, it seemed difficult until I started clicking around on YouTube. Once you spend an hour or so (conservative estimate) steeped in videos of men jumping around like idiots, you find yourself getting excited all over again.

So let's get excited about Davis Cup. Here are some reasons to tune in.

Watch Boys Become Men: Davis Cup can be career defining. Novak Djokovic repeatedly cites Serbia's Davis Cup win last year as a significant catalyst in his ascent to the top spot. The positive emotions from that win have catapulted him through his historic 2011. Similarly, in 2008, Fernando Verdasco was a top-20 player who was known more for who he was dating (Ana Ivanovic at the time) than what he was doing on a tennis court. That all changed when he was summoned to play a decisive fifth rubber against Argentina in the Davis Cup finals. With Rafael Nadal sidelined with knee problems, it was a tie no one thought Spain could win. It had been 10 years since a team had won a Davis Cup tie in Argentina, and with a home team stacked with David Nalbandian and Juan Martin del Potro, it seemed an impossible task. In stepped Verdasco, who rallied from two sets to one down to beat Jose Acasuso and clinch the Cup. The next year he broke into the top 10.

Watch Grown Men Cry: Tennis is an individual sport. For most of the year the players play for themselves. But that goes out the window for Davis Cup. It's the only time during the year when individuality is pushed to the side and the men slap the flag on their chest and play for love of country. Accordingly, the stakes are high. Victory is sweet and losses can be devastating. Serbia is the defending champion this year after clinching the Cup in Belgrade against France. Have you ever seen Michael Llodra cry after a loss at a Slam or Tour event? Probably not. But the tears would not stop flowing after his straight-set loss to Viktor Troicki.

Watch Grown Men Dance: Most guys I know refuse to dance. I suspect this is more because I am friends with guys who simply do not like to dance and less because it is some gender-specific thing. I suspect this because Davis Cup has taught me that if you get a group of men together and tell them they've won something, they really love dancing like fools.

Watch Grown Men Do Questionable Things: Team Serbia promised to shave their heads if they won Davis Cup. Those guys know how to keep their promises, even if it meant women around the world shedding a tear as their luscious locks hit the Deco Turf. This year, Janko Tipsarevic said they'll go sky diving if they win. Like I said. Questionable.

Watch Grown Men Sing Songs That I Am Not Convinced Are Actual Songs: Who doesn't want to see Roger the Great sing? But I guess when you're one of the greatest players of all time, who's going to question you?

Watch Grown Men Cry 2.0: Andy Murray doesn't get to go home to Scotland very often (he's based in London and trains in Miami), so when he returned to Glasgow after a stressful two weeks of having to prove that he can be both Scottish and British (he was British for 12 days, a Wimbledon record for him), the support he received back home was emotionally overwhelming. See? He's not as dour as you think he is. He has feelings!

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