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It's a heavy sports weekend. You'll be watching or betting on or calling a 900 number for the results of: the Masters, the cruiserweight championship fight, the Santa Anita Derby, the NHL playoffs. What a bonanza of events! Titans clash! The Dodgers versus the Braves, Twins-Blue Jays, Celtics-Sixers, Lakers-Trail Blazers, Zimbabwe-Cameroon, Peru-United States, Hong Kong-Iraq. So many choices, so little time. What's a sports fan to do?
Unless you're related to Tom Gorman or Bud Collins, you probably don't have the foggiest idea that the second round of the 1988 Davis Cup is being played this very weekend in such places as Norrköping, Guayaquil, Abidjan and Damascus. Typical home-surface advantages will include the likes of clay, carpet, grass, textile, felt, shell, cement and cow dung; the last is occasionally what India's Davis Cup courts are made of. The second-round survivors will reassemble in July at the same sort of faraway places. Then the Davis Cup takes a five-month break before holding its championship just before Christmas—a time carefully calculated to guarantee the event the least attention possible everywhere in the world.
In case your interest is being piqued just an itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny widdle bit, the Davis Cup will confuse you totally by calling every competition between contending teams a "tie." Not a match. not a series, not a game but...a tie. Most dictionaries have anywhere from 25 to 40 definitions for the word tie. None of them describes a Davis Cup tie. This leads to tennis variations of the who's-on-first routine:
"Let's go to the tie between Bangladesh and Chinese Taipei in the Asia/ Oceania Zone Group II."
"Sure, what's the tie score?"
"It's 2-1, Taipei."
"But you said it was a tie."
"Right, between Bangladesh and Taipei."
"But they can't be tied at 2-1."
"Right, they won't be tied in the tie unless Taipei loses the first match of the reverse singles."