2000, 55 Minutes
For a century, the Davis Cup has helped define Australia and given us some of our greatest sporting heroes.
The Fifth Set explores the history of Australia's relationship with the Davis Cup, one of the world's greatest tennis competitions. When Norman 'The Wizard' Brookes won the trophy in 1907, it was a first for Australia and the beginning of an extraordinary association with the famous Cup. Since then, Australia has won the competition an astonishing 27 times.
Through early success in the event, Australian tennis players became known internationally for their sportsmanship. The idea of the fair-minded, amiable Aussie took hold. For a new nation, it was an irresistible profile. At home, the Davis Cup inspired an obsession with tennis. Australia had plenty of space and a warm climate. Tennis courts popped up next to churches and town halls. What was once a game that had been exclusive to the rich became a popular social pastime that bred impassioned fans as well as competitors.
As the years progressed and the victories continued, the Davis Cup became Australia's special domain. It was more than just a game, it became a source of national pride. The players were ambassadors for their country, farewelled in style and greeted with tickertape parades on their return.
These scenes are captured in The Fifth Set, which features rare archival newsreels, photographs and home movies, some dating from the turn of the century. In new interviews, tennis legends such as Ken Rosewall, Neale Fraser, Rod Laver, Frank Sedgman, Roy Emerson and John Newcombe talk about their memories of famous Davis Cup matches, including the golden era that started in the 1950s, when Harry Hopman was coach and Australia won the cup 15 times in 18 years.
Younger players like Pat Cash, Pat Rafter and Lleyton Hewitt prove that the passion for the Davis Cup is still strong today as they describe their pride in representing Australia in the competition. For them, like their predecessors, it is the jewel in the crown of international tournaments.
A Film Australia National Interest Program in association with Media Giants and ScreenSound Australia. Produced with the assistance of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. © 2011 National Film and Sound Archive of Australia.
Director: Sue Thomson
Running Time: 55 Minutes
Curriculum Links: Australian history; PDHPE; Sport History and Culture; Sport Science; SOSE.