The president of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) has confirmed that home-and-away ties will be used during the opening round of the Davis Cup in a plan to revamp the competition.
Earlier this year David Haggerty revealed plans for week-long 18-team event taking place at one location each year. Changing the current format of the competition, which takes place at various stages throughout the year. The proposal has already secured financial backing from Kosmos, the investment company owned by Barcelona F.C. footballer Gerard Pique. Should it get the go ahead, Kosmos will invest $3 billion over a 25-year period.
The proposal has prompted backlash from some members of the tennis community. Who have accused the ITF of trying to damage the competition by removing home and away ties. French player Lucas Pouille has previously threatened to boycott any new-look event and Lleyton Hewitt has accused the governing body of having ‘their heads in the sand.’ Yannick Noah, who is the captain of the French Davis Cup team, also previously said the new plans would turn the event into a ‘circus.’ Amid the uproar, the ITF have adjusted their plans in a bid to win over support.
“We are looking at a round of 24 home-and-away ties in February, in the week after the Australian Open, producing 12 winners.” Haggerty told The Telegraph.
“They would then go on to the November tournament, along with the four semi-finalists from the previous year, and two invited teams.”
“It’s important for the national federations to be able to stage ties. It’s a way of promoting the sport and of connecting with fans.” He later added.
Should the plan be passed, it is likely that the first week-long tournament will be help in Europe at the end of 2019. Both Spain and France have been mentioned as potential hosts of the tournament. Officials want the event to be held in the continent due to its close proximity to the ATP Finals, which takes place at the O2 Arena in London.
“It would be easier for the players to stay in Europe, with the way the end of the season is set up,” Haggerty said. “Although things might change if the ATP World Tour Finals were to move away from London after 2020.”
In August a vote will take place on the proposal at a ITF AGM meeting in America. It requires at least two thirds of backing from members in order for it to go ahead.
Fed Cup faces similar changes
The Fed Cup is also in line to experience similar changes in the future. Earlier this year the president of the French Tennis Federation, Bernard Giudicelli, said that plans are underway to expand the size of the women’s group. The top group of the competition currently features eight teams.
“The purpose of the reform is to favour more teams in the World Group.” Giudicelli told reporters.
Haggerty has weighed in on the speculation by saying the ITF plans to change the structure of the Fed Cup in 2020 to bring it in line with the men’s competition.
“We’re all for equality,” said Haggerty. “The Davis Cup reform is a very big project. We’re looking to get it set up from next year and then we will try to take the Fed Cup in the same direction.”
Any future proposal would also be subjected to a vote.
Davis Cup Reforms Anger Players And Federations
Players including Lucas Pouille and John Millman have aimed their anger over the Davis Cup reforms that were approved today.
The new Davis Cup reforms have angered players such as Lucas Pouille, Nicolas Mahut, Robin Haase and John Millman and also federations.
The reforms were approved today after a 71% approval from the AGM meeting in Orlando, Florida. It means that the Davis Cup will now have an 18 team world group at the end of the season and has a 3 billion dollar investment for grassroot tennis for the next 25 years. For more information on next year’s format, please watch the following guide below, which explains the new ‘Davis Cup’:
However the reforms have not gone down well with some of the players and federations. Especially with the players as they were not allowed to have a say in a competition that they will ultimately be playing in. Here are some of the most high profile reactions:
The Frenchman was not happy at the reforms and before the vote, stated he would boycott the competition if they were passed. He said the following on Twitter:
@ITF_Tennis You guys are a shame for tennis …😶 Let’s enjoy our last davis cup year and lets try to keep it home.. 🇫🇷🇫🇷🇫🇷
— Lucas Pouille (@la_pouille) August 16, 2018
Robin Haase: “I always played tennis because it is my passion. Yes many players can make a good living from it. So do I. However it is not the reason why I started. It has always been an honour to represent my country but now a beautiful event only became about money.”
The French doubles specialist wrote the following, “Even Cincinnati mourns the ridiculous decision of the ITF. The 12 voices of the FFT have done very badly. Very difficult decision to assume as a Frenchman. The CD (Coupe Davis) died and part of our history flew away for a handful of dollars.”
Même Cincinnati pleure cette décision ridicule de @ITF_Tennis Les 12 voix de la FFT ont fait très mal.Décision très difficile à assumer en tant que français…La CD est morte et une partie de l’histoire de notre sport envolée pour une poignée de dollars. #decudenoselus #politique pic.twitter.com/UfsfRuKhAd
— Nico Mahut (@nmahut) August 16, 2018
The Australian compared it to someone doing the same thing to the Champions League in Football and explained how it was ironic that the reforms passed on National Tell A Joke Day in Australia:
Anabel Medina Garrigues
The Spanish Fed Cup captain wasn’t amused that the Women weren’t getting a mention in all of this as they still only have an eight team World Group. She stated, “It is alright that there is debate and voting in tennis, discussion about tournaments and formats. But what about women’s tennis? What about the Fed Cup? Why the same institution (ITF) that’s considering reformatting the Davis Cup, is not taking into consideration women’s tennis?”
Tennis Australia and DTB
Finally, Tennis Australia and the German Tennis federation were not happy at the result as both Federations voted against the reforms. The DTB chairman, Ulrich Klaus, said the following statement, “This result is a very bitter pill to swallow. Right now, I am at a loss for words. Sadly, the discussion in the last few days was mainly about money and not about the sport.”
While Tennis Australia sent out the following statement:
— TennisAustralia (@TennisAustralia) August 16, 2018
It is clear that although many federations, David Haggerty and Gerard Pique are happy at the reforms, the players that will be involved in it certainly are not.
Davis Cup Reforms Passes Vote At Orlando AGM Meeting
The Davis Cup will receive a transformation next year after the reforms received a 71% majority at the AGM meeting in Orlando.
The Davis Cup Reforms have passed through at an AGM meeting in Orlando, Florida. The reforms got a 71 % majority meaning that the 118 year competition will receive a complete overhaul next year. The ITF will be given a 3 billion dollar investment for the next 25 years by Kosmos, who is lead by Barcelona football star, Gerard Pique.
The vote passed at around 10am Orlando time with 71% of Federations agreeing to the Davis Cup reforms that have been set out, which will see an 18 team tournament at the end of next year. Despite concerns from Australia, Germany, Great Britain, India and Poland, the majority of Federations agreed to it, with the main reason being for economic benefit. The vote means that from next year the Davis Cup will have a major overhaul, which includes the following:
- An 18 team world group at the end of next year, spread over a week. It will includes, 6 Round Robin Groups, with the Quarter-Finals, Semi-Finals and Final.
- There will be a 24 team qualifying round in February, where the 12 winners will qualify for November’s World Group.
- The other six teams will consist of the four semi-finalists from the previous year and two wildcards.
- The two worst teams from the World Group will be automatically relegated to the Zone Groups, while teams from 5th to 16th will compete in the following year’s qualifying event.
- The qualifying event will be four singles matches and one doubles over two days.
- The end of year event will be two singles and one doubles played in one day.
- All ties will be best of three tiebreak sets.
After the vote, Gerard Pique was seen celebrating his win with his team as his aim to invest in Tennis succeeded:
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) August 16, 2018
After their big victory the ITF now face a major problem in convincing top players to participate as the ATP World Cup of Tennis event will start just one month after the Davis Cup finals event finishes. Players like Lucas Pouille and Alexander Zverev have already announced that they will boycott the event in 2019 , with many more set to join them.
What Happens Next?
The ITF will now have to debate where to hold the first edition of the tournament, with the venue set to be either Madrid or Lille. It has also been announced that they will announce the two wildcards just before the draw for the qualifying event, with those 12 ties set to take place in February. The ITF also have to consider what to fill April and September with now as a Hopman Cup style event as well as a winners take all weekend have been discussed for the future.
Whether you like the changes or not, today is a very sad day for Tennis as 118 years of history has been wiped out with 3 billion dollars worth of investment.
Great Britain To Oppose Davis Cup Reform
After a series of discussions, the LTA has outlined three reasons why they will not back the overhaul of the 118-year-old competition.
The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) has announced that they will not support the proposed reform of the Davis Cup on the eve of the critical vote in what is a blow to the International Tennis Federation.
On Thursday national tennis federations will attend the ITF’s AGM meeting in Orlando to vote on the proposal. The radical plan is for the men’s event to be transformed into 18-team event that will be held at one location at the end of the year over a week. It has received financial backing from Kosmos, who has pledged to invest $3 billion over 25. Kosmos is owned by Barcelona F.C. Footballer Gerard Pique. Indian Wells Owner Larry Ellison has also pledged his support.
Backed by ITF president Davis Haggerty, the plan has drawn criticism and concerns from some federations. The latest of those is the LTA, who is a key voter. Great Britain is one of five countries that has the maximum of 12 votes. Along with the other grand slam host nations and Germany. There is roughly 460 votes up for grabs.
“The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) has today informed the International Tennis Federation (ITF) that, regrettably, it is unable to support their proposed Davis Cup reforms at this time, and will oppose the resolution at the ITF AGM tomorrow.” A statement reads.
Their decision contradicts the stance of the chairman of The All-England Club, venue of the Wimbledon Championships. Philip Brook told Reuters earlier this month that the AELTC supported the move because it is in ‘the best interests of tennis to ensure that the Davis Cup has a strong and successful future.’
The LTA has highlighted three areas of the plan that they are concerned about. These are the impact the new event could have on the tennis calendar, a ‘number of outstanding queries‘ the association has and the division the plan has caused.
“The Davis Cup is loved by so many people in our country. From Roger Taylor to Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski, and more recently Andy and Jamie Murray, the Davis Cup has seen some of the greatest players in the history of British tennis deliver some of the most memorable moments in our sport. The competition plays a vital role in supporting the LTA’s vision to open up tennis in Britain.” Said CEO Scott Lloyd.
“We take our responsibilities with regard to voting on the future of the competition extremely seriously and after consulting widely, regrettably, we do not feel we can support the proposals as they stand. The LTA remains fully supportive of the ITF and its leadership and we will work together on the future of Davis Cup regardless of the outcome of tomorrow’s vote.”
In order for the Kosmos-backed Davis Cup to be given the green light, it needs to be passed by a majority of 66.6% yes votes or more. Ubitennis has published a poll of journalists across Europe, North America and South America about how they think their tennis federations will vote.
The three areas of concern raised by the LTA
- The LTA’s vision is to grow and open up the sport. Concerns remain that the proposed format and its impact on the tennis calendar, extending the season for players, risks player participation and therefore fan appeal;
- Despite some real progress in developing the format, there remain a number of outstanding queries, particularly on the clarity of how the business case will work in practice, which has led the LTA to conclude that it is too early to seek approval;
- The proposal has created division amongst the member nations. The strength of the ITF in governing and developing tennis across the world will be reinforced by bringing tennis together behind a unified proposal and the LTA feels we have not yet reached that point.
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