Will Billions Of Dollars Revive The Davis Cup?
The revolutionary idea of the ITF to modernize the Davis Cup is surrounded by many doubts concerning the format and location. While something needs to be done to revive the event, the new proposal is certainly a bizarre one. Will the Davis Cup drown once and for all?
Billions of dollars can sometimes make miracles. 20 million dollars a year for 25 seasons starting from 2019 are undoubtedly a lot of money. Kosmos – the company owned by soccer superstar Gerard Piqué – is the main investor in a new revolutionary project that is supposed to give the Davis Cup a complete makeover. Rakuten – the first Japanese company in the field of e-commerce – would also be one of the investors in the project.
This is not the first time that ITF President David Haggerty is going against the mainstream. Thanks to him, Arthur Ashe Stadium today has a retractable roof, while the majority of the USTA managers were opposing the project. A while ago Haggerty proposed to host the Davis Cup final in a neutral location, but his idea wasn’t approved by the board that is composed of the countries belonging to the International Federation.
With the new project promoted by Piqué, Haggerty is ready to give the Davis Cup either a face-lift or a final knockout blow. If the new “World Cup of Tennis” failed to materialize, Haggerty and the rest of the ITF board will probably put the old Davis Cup to bed once and for all.
Most of the European managers have been quite unimpressed by the proposal so far. It is not surprising that the Brits love their traditions, while the French are still thrilled by their Davis Cup victory last November and the Germans have had some very hostile words towards Haggerty: “Instead of improving the event, they are ruining it. They want to transform it into an exhibition. I truly hope that the member nations will stop this nonsense and remove Haggerty from his presidency,” the Vice President of the German Tennis Federation said.
Spain is probably the only Western European country that will support the project. Plenty of Spanish regions could possibly host the event in an outdoor venue even in late November or early December. That is the reason why Rafa Nadal hasn’t been against the proposal. Murray has seemed favorable as well, while it is obvious that Djokovic – who is one of Kosmos’ stockholders – will surely support the revolution.
In contrast, Roger Federer – who is the mastermind behind the Laver Cup along with his agent Tony Godsick – will certainly not be thrilled by the idea of having his event compete with a newer and more appealing Davis Cup.
The ground-breaking proposal will condense the entire Davis Cup competition into only one week, with 16 nations as part of the World Group plus two wild cards. There will be six groups with three teams each competing in a round-robin format for the first three days of the competition. Each team will be composed of four players and each tie will consist of two singles and one double. All matches will employ a best-of-three format with tie-breakers at 6-6 in each set.
At the end of the first three days, the six teams that win their groups and the two second best teams will advance to the quarterfinals. The semifinals will be contested on Saturday and the final on Sunday. Determining “the two second best teams” will certainly be a puzzle with many complicated calculations in terms of sets and games that were won and lost – perhaps even more complicated than the ATP Finals.
The best teams among the ten that are eliminated in the round-robin stages should play against the eight teams that emerge from World Group II, whose ties will take place in the same three calendar slots that are currently assigned to the “traditional” Davis Cup.
“At the end of the week, we will know the 16 nations that will compete in the final stages of the following year, while we still have to decide how the wild cards will be assigned to teams No. 17 and 18,” Haggerty explained. For example, if the final stages are contested in Qatar, I assume that one of the wild cards will be offered to Qatar.
Even though Dwight Davis was American, the United States are not very attached to certain traditions. U.S. captain Jim Courier doesn’t seem to be against the new format and would also like to add the Fed Cup to the same week. Instead, Yevgeny Kafelnikov of Russia has been utterly against the new format: “It’s terrible, the soul and spirit of the competition will be completely lost,” he said.
Another question mark is the location for the competition, which will require at least 12 show-courts during the round-robin stages. At the moment there are no tennis venues with a big enough capacity to host a world championship of this magnitude, especially by 2019. Certainly, it will have to be an outdoor venue in a location with pleasant weather conditions during the month of November. Most likely Europe will not be an option, perhaps Australia, the Middle East or Asia?
There are certainly more doubts than certainties surrounding the new revolutionary World Cup of Tennis.
(Article translation provided by T&L Global – Translation & Language Solutions – www.t-lglobal.com )