Originally Posted by Mustard
One thing I also have to say is that there were nothing as big as open era majors before 1968, but this cannot be blamed on the players of pre-1968.
That's probably true in the sense that the field was long divided between amateur and pro. If you go back to the early 1920s, before the pro era, the majors were not divided in that sense -- but back then the world's best players were divided in another way, simply because travel between continents was difficult and not the norm.
However, Davis Cup was a huge event back then. Later on, many of the world's best players became pros and could not compete in Davis Cup. But up to the early 1920s all the world's best players were eligible for Davis Cup, and in that format they did meet one another, difficulties of travel aside.
I think it's hard to overestimate just how much a part of tennis Davis Cup was in those days. Even in later years, it remained a huge part of the amateur game. Don Budge said that if he had had to play a full year of Davis Cup in 1938, he would probably not have won the Grand Slam. I believe the fact that he did not have to play the full season of Davis Cup was a factor in his decision to go to Australia and France and attempt the Slam.
In a real sense Davis Cup was as much a priority to many champions, sometimes even a higher priority, than the majors were.
I don't know if that means we should call Davis Cup a major. But I do think that Tilden's 15 majors, for example, are far short of his major accomplishments. His 7 Davis Cup victories are right up there among the biggest titles of his career (and his unsuccessful efforts to regain the Cup from France are a major part of his legacy).
And is it possible to refer to any of the French Musketeers without giving major weight to what they did in Davis Cup?