'A Wasted Opportunity' - German Tennis Chief Slams David Haggerty’s ITF Reforms - UBITENNIS
Connect with us

ITF

‘A Wasted Opportunity’ – German Tennis Chief Slams David Haggerty’s ITF Reforms

Published

on

By Dirk Hordorff (DTB Vice President for Professional Tennis, Education and Wheel Chair Tennis)

 

Anyone who hoped that the ice age between the ITF and the players would have been over after the election of US David Haggerty, and that the new board would set new impulses for Davis and Fed Cup with courageous reforms, is very much deceived. Instead, it is more likely that someone needs to get rid of the shards that David Haggerty has piled up for the ITF in just two years.

The amount of errors, the persistent awkward acts and increasingly grotesque suggestions have brought Haggerty terrible defeats even among many of his followers.

It could have been so easy. The players reached out and submitted reasonable proposals for Davis Cup. But the ignorance and the lack of economic understanding have led the ITF into a dead end. Having friends as advisors who are only looking for their own interests has never been an advantage for anyone. In this context you can look at the crazy idea of a joint neutral final in the Davis Cup and semi-final and final in the Fed Cup in Geneva. The main point was to win votes for the president of the Swiss Tennis Federation Rene Stammbach and not about the interests of the players or the fans. But the calculation did not work. No event can be a success without the support of the players. Finally the board members of the ITF have also recognized it and pulled the emergency brake. Suddenly the Geneva idea was pulled out of circulation with flowery words before the ITF meeting.

And then the best joke: Best of 3 Format instead of Best of 5, that’s how David Haggerty wanted to increase his popularity among the players. Basically a good idea but that was just another episode of mistakes of the American. Why didn’t he get a majority? Just because the proposal was not thought through until the end and it ended up being a real beginner’s mistake.

Embed from Getty Images

If you understand tennis, you should be able to imagine what the fans expect. And this is not an expensive ticket for a match of perhaps 91 minutes and then to be sent home. If you want to bring tennis forward you have to think a little further and especially long term because something is even more important than the opinion of individual players and that is the acceptance of the tennis fans and those who you could possibly win as new tennis enthusiasts. Canteen tennis is certainly contra productive.

Much better would be to follow the proposal of the ATP Players Council. The pros have already sent a letter to David Haggerty after US Open 2016 and made clear and reasonable suggestions. The ITF should have taken this opportunity but the letter has not even been made accessible to all board members. If you destroy opportunities you will not be able to successfully bring all parties together. As I said, a great chance wasted.

How easy it would have been to play the Davis Cup in the same format as the Fed Cup. On two days, with Best of 3, with the double at the end. At the very least, it would be ensured that every encounter was not decided at the beginning. This would have been supported by the DTB.

Now it is time to clean up the total damage caused by David Haggerty. With sensible minds in the ITF organization it is possible to reorganize and revive these team competitions. It would be sad if the ITF destroys its premium events. The DTB has supported the proposals at the last General Meeting with less set-up times and fewer commitments in the program and will continue to be willing to actively participate in meaningful reforms for Davis and Fed Cup.

There are solutions that would be supported by the players and fans. If players are enthusiastic about the event then fans will be coming to watch as well, the whole story will be a success and also a financial success for the ITF. Because the main reason behind all of this was how to generate more income. If you have a sense for the market and for tennis business then you should realize that a good product brings income and success in the long run.

What are the possibilities for a sensible Davis Cup reform?

Embed from Getty Images

If you see the Davis Cup as a premium event, if you want to match it with a world team championship then you have to look at other sports who successfully market those kinds of events. Then we come to a main requirement of the players. Davis Cup should not be held every year and for sure not in the Olympic years.

At the moment, the finals take place every year in November and the title holder may already be exiled at the beginning of February. Why not play the Davis Cup either every two years or over three years, but not with four but with three encounters per year. This would solve one of the main problems in marketing of Davis Cup. One would have a manageable, predictable time frame to contact stadiums, cities and sponsors. How does it look today? In the middle of September the draw is made for the matches for the first week of February. Then the host country has to look for a venue, contact sponsors, design a marketing strategy, and since the Christmas season is in between, it becomes extremely difficult and often only emergency solutions remain.

For example, in year one it could be played in groups of four, according to a clear organizational scheme. In year two the corresponding return matches would take place. And in the third year, the final games with eight teams and three game days for the two top-placed teams of the group and for the last two teams in the world group the relegation games with the advancement candidates. Also in groups of four, with three matches. And in the Olympic year the DC does not take place. This is good and necessary for the schedule.

This way you organize the substructure, European, Asian and American Zone Groups, since there are already intelligent solutions. It would be too much to present everything here and in addition the ITF should also have to put in some time and thoughts themselves.

It is clear, and Mister Haggerty and the ITF must recognize, that they do not own the players. They earn their money on the ATP and WTA tour. Just as the football players earn their money in their clubs. But tennis players love Davis Cup and Fed Cup if they are reasonably organized. Money rarely plays a role in the decision to play for your country but as a professional athlete you must pay attention to your health and to your career. A professional athlete has that responsibility.

If the ITF and its president Haggerty thinks that they can make more money with a neutral final then their thinking is completely wrong. The players will not be there to compete in these events, they only will have the feeling that everything is done on their backs. Even the fans will not support it. For fans real home games have a special charm. And what will remain at the end is no income for the ITF.

The DTB has a close contact with its players and I didn’t have any discussions about money with respect to Davis or Fed Cup in the years I am involved. Our athletes have always made themselves available for their country and not for money. I hope that for many years I will be able to follow these great team events in Germany. I hope that the ITF does not miss out on these opportunities and takes the chance for the good of all nations, for the well being of the athletes and for the well being of our beautiful sport.

 

Davis Cup

Gerard Pique’s Pessimistic Davis Cup Outlook Blasted By French Tennis Star

The football player has been urged to ‘put more energy’ in finding a solution for the event to take place in 2020.

Published

on

Kosmos founder Gerard Pique has come under fire over his plans for the Davis Cup Finals later this year after recently casting doubt on the event taking place due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

 

Pique, whose company helped finance the transformation of the 120-year-old team competition, recently admitted that he was doubtful that the event could go ahead if crowds weren’t allowed to attend. Last year was the first time the new format of the competition took place with 18 teams featuring in a week-long round-robin tournament which was won by host nation Spain.

“I’m a bit pessimistic, to have the Davis Cup with no fans is difficult,” Pique told Movistar.
“There is a lot of uncertainty. We are listening to what the sport’s ministry and the government are telling us about whether we’ll have the ability to have fans.”

All professional tennis tournaments have been suspended since March due to the Pandemic. Officials are hoping to be able to get the sport going again in August ahead of the US Open that is scheduled to take place. Although some have doubts about the chances of the Tour’s starting by then, including world No.43 John Millman.

Amid the ongoing uncertainty, French tennis star Nicolas Mahut has criticized Pique’s bleak outlook for this year’s Davis Cup finale. The 38-year-old has represented his country in 13 ties, including the 2018 final as well as the semifinals in two other years.

“We don’t have a lot of information. But as a player, you can just trust the official statements. And when I hear Pique, I’m extremely disappointed,” Mahut told L’Equipe.

Mahut has called on Pique to explore more options such as potentially relocating the event to another country if it would make it safer for the event to go ahead. Implying that he was his duty to do so after setting ‘to destroy the formula’ of the event. Critics of the revamp have accused Pique of ruining the traditional competition.

“I would like him to put as much energy into saving the Davis Cup that he has set up. That is to say, to find solutions for it to take place in Madrid or elsewhere, as he has set to destroy the formula that had been in place for over a hundred years,” he said,
“The message he sent through his statements, is: ” If Madrid is complicated and we cannot do it, well it cancels and I save some money. ” And it bothers me a lot compared to what has happened for more than a year. We don’t play with this competition. Maybe that suits it.”

Kosmos has signed a $3 billion 25-year deal with the ITF to acquire the rights for the Davis Cup Finals.

Continue Reading

Davis Cup

Davis Cup Finals In Doubt, Admits Gerard Pique

The Kosmos founder explains why he isn’t too optimistic about the team event going ahead later this year.

Published

on

MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 24: Crowds of peoples during of the Davis Cup by Rakuten Madrid Finals 2019 at Caja Magica on November 24, 2019 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Pedro Salado / Kosmos Tennis)

The chances of this year’s Davis Cup Finals taking place are still up in the air with one of the key figures involved in the competition openly saying that he is ‘pessimistic’ about its chances.

 

Football star Gerard Pique is one the driving forces behind the new format following a huge financial investment from his company Kosmos. Signing a 25-year deal with the International Tennis Federation worth in the region of $3 billion. Despite the significant investment, Pique admits that he has low hopes of the event taking place later this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. All professional tennis tournaments have been halted since March.

“There is a lot of uncertainty, we try to be aware of what the government says regarding sports and to whether we can put spectators inside the Caja Magica,” Pique said during an interview with Movistar.
“I would say I am a bit pessimistic, because a Davis Cup without fans is difficult.
“I think that nobody at the moment has the certainty that we can put fans in or if it will have to be behind closed doors. As the days go by, I suppose we will have a little more clarity.”

Spain is currently in the process of relaxing some of their lockdown restrictions with tennis players being able to train at local facilities from next week. The country is following a four-stage plan with the hope that their premier La Liga football league will resume next month at some stage.

However, the issue for the Davis Cup is the limited number of fans that would be able to go to the tournament if it takes place. In more advanced stages of the plans, no more than 50 people can attend an indoor venue. Although the number could be increased by November, it will be a stark difference to 2019. Held at the Caja Magica, the total capacity of the premier court is 12,500 people.

Last year’s final saw Spain lift the title for the first time since 2011 after they defeated Canada in the final. The two teams are seeded third and sixth in this year’s draw.

The Davis Cup is scheduled to take place between November 23-29 in Madrid. The ATP, WTA and ITF will not restart their Tour’s until at least July 13th, however, there is speculation that the suspension will be extended in the coming weeks.

Continue Reading

Davis Cup

Spain to face Russia and Ecuador in Davis Cup Finals next November

Published

on

The draw of the 2020 Davis Cup Finals in Madrid took place at the ITF offices in London on 12th March. The Davis Cup Finals will begin in Madrid on 23rd November 2020.

 

Defending champions Spain has been drawn in the Group A against Russia and Ecuador. Last year Rafael Nadal guided the Spanish team to the triumph in the final against Canada at the Caja Magica.

This year’s ATP Cup champions Serbia will face Germany and Austria in a Group A, which features three top 10 players Novak Djokovic, Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev. Djokovic beat Thiem in this year’s final of the Australian Open.

In the Group E the USA will take on Italy in a re-match of last year’s late round-robin match. These two teams were drawn against Colombia.Last year’s finalists Canada will meet Sweden and Kazakhstan.

Three former Davis Cup champions France, Great Britain and Czech Republic have been drawn in Group C.

 

Croatia will clash against Australia and Hungary in Group D.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending