Kosmos Chief Says Davis Cup Will Continue ‘With Or Without’ Star Players Amid Boycott Fears - UBITENNIS
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Kosmos Chief Says Davis Cup Will Continue ‘With Or Without’ Star Players Amid Boycott Fears

The key investor of the revamped team competition has hit back at criticism of its founder Gerard Pique.

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The CEO of investment firm Kosmos has played down fears over a series of high-profile players missing the Davis Cup finals next year as it switches to a week-long event.

Javier Alonso has spoken out about the issue during a trip to the Shanghai Masters. Alonso was at the Masters 1000 tournament alongside Barcelona F.C centre-back Gerard Pique, who is the founder of the company. Kosmos has pledged to invest $3 billion into the Davis Cup over the next 25 years. Under the new format, 18 teams will play in an end-of-season finals. Removing the tradition of home and away finals. The group consists of 12 qualified teams, the four semi-finalists from the previous year and two wild cards.

“Gerard Pique has not come to save the Davis Cup because there’s nothing to save, it’s a historical competition which will keep on existing, with or without tennis’ biggest stars.” Alonso told Spanish news agency EFE.

Pique was spotted holding a discussion with Novak Djokovic during his time in China. Although it is unclear as to what was discussed. The meeting came at a time where a series of high-profile players have cast doubts on their participation. Germany’s Alexander Zverev became the first top 10 player to publicly say that he will not be playing in the tournament. Saying that his decision has been made due to the timing of the event, which takes place at the end of November.

“Because in November I do not want to play tennis anymore. I think all the top guys will say the same thing.” Zverev told reporters in Shanghai about why he will miss the 2019 Davis Cup final.
“We have one-and-a-half months off in our season, and that’s the end of November and December. Making a tournament at the end of November, which is ten days long and playing and competing, it’s crazy. I mean, by the end of the year, we are all tired.”

Another blow came from 20-time grand slam champion Roger Federer. The Swiss world No.2 said that the event ‘wasn’t designed’ for him. Federer has previously warned Pique against trying to interfere with the Davis Cup. Saying that the team event should not be turned into the ‘Pique Cup.’

“No, I highly doubt [I’ll be there],” said Federer. “We’ll see what happens.
“I don’t think this was designed for me anyhow. This was designed for the future generation of players.”

Djokovic is also yet to commit to the event. His meeting with Pique in Shanghai has been described as one that ‘has been done a million times before.’ Indicating that no new agreements has been made.

Alonso, who was the former director general of Dorma Sports, has dismissed allegations that his company is trying to fix the team tournament. Saying that the future of the event is not under threat. The words come as the ATP gets ready to bring back the World Team Cup from 2020. An event that will offer ranking points and prize money.

“We’ve not come to save anything because there’s nothing to save. The Davis Cup is 118 years old and will keep getting older.” He stated.
“It’s a team competition and the most important things is the teams, not the players.”

Next year’s Davis Cup finals will take place at the Caja Magica between November 18th to 24th.

Davis Cup

EXCLUSIVE: Davis Cup Revamp Continues To Draw Concern From Britain’s Barmy Army

One of the UK’s most prominent Davis Cup supporters group has spoken to Ubitennis about the radical changes coming to the competition.

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Next year will see the Davis Cup enter into a new era following a radical overhaul that has split opinion in the world of tennis.

For the first time in history, the men’s team tournament will take place during two stages of the year. In February will be a series of qualifying rounds where home and away ties will take place. The winners will then travel to Madrid to play in a week-long tournament held at the Caja Magica in November. A 18-team event that features 12 qualified teams, the four semi-finalists from the previous year and two wild cards. A controversial move that has angered some countries due to loss of the ability to host the finals on home soil.

It isn’t just the team that has their concerns, it is also their fans. The Stirling University Barmy Army (SUBA) has established themselves as one of the most loyal and prestigious fan groups of British tennis. Founded in 2009 by Jamie MacDonald, former president of Sterling University, more than 120 people have attended Britain’s Davis Cup ties on behalf of the SUBA. Overall, they have attended 19 ties, including the last 12.

“The loss of regular home and away ties which therefore reduces the amount of tennis played in the UK restricting the opportunities for fans to go and watch the team.” McDonald told Ubitennis about the concerns they have about the new Davis Cup format.

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The SUBA has already stated their public opposition to the new-look event. Earlier this year, 88.9% of members voted against the reforms. Expressing concerns about the negative impact it will have on costs and travelling for British fans.

The driving force behind the Davis Cup changes are investment group Kosmos. A company that was founded by Barcelona F.C. footballer Gerard Pique. They have pledged to invest $3 billion over the next 25 years in a move they claim will see national tennis associations recieve more money. Kosmos’ plans came to life in August after being approved by a vote at the International Tennis Federation’s AGM meeting.

“We welcome new funding and new people to the sport. It is up to the sport’s governing bodies to regulate this and ensure that any changes to the sport are made in the best interests of tennis.” Said McDonald.

The ‘Change It Back’ Campaign

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After being awarded a wildcard into next year’s final, Great Britain will not play a Davis Cup tie on home soil until 2020 at the earliest. Leaving the SUBA in an uncertain position on if they will be able to cheer of their team from the sidelines next year. The group last missed a tie in 2014, when Britain took on America in San Diego.

“Less people will get to see live tennis which is a huge problem for the sport.” McDonald commented about the Davis Cup Finals.
“We would like to go to the finals but this depends on being able to access tickets and the cost of flights and accommodation not proving prohibitive.

Andrew McCrea is a member of the SUBA. Like McDonald, he is also concerned about the negative impact the new Davis Cup could have for fans of the sport. He is also a supporter of the #ChangItBack campaign on Twitter. Which urges the Davis Cup to revert back to their original format.

“The people who are involved in this are just a group of Great Britain Davis Cup fans (made up of people from a variety of supporters groups such as the Murraynators, We Are Tennis Fan Academy, British Association of Tennis Supporters etc) who initially just got in contact with one another via social media and brainstormed ideas as to what the fans could do to try and make their voices heard, and I’m actually the only person involved here who is in the Barmy Army.” McCrea explained.
“A few of us came up with the idea of tweeting the #ChangeItBack hashtag on posts relating to the Davis Cup, and these people have over the last month or so has been trying to contact other people who they think may be interested in getting involved.”

McCrea believes the new format will result in certain areas of the UK missing out on chances to engage in the sport. The Scottish city of Glasgow has hosted four ties since 2015, including their year’s clash between Britain and Uzbekistan. In September 3000 school children from schools across Glasgow was invited to watch the British team practice.

“It’s special for the players as well as they don’t get the chance to play professionally in their home country very often.” He said.
“The GB team also did a hugely successful Tennis for Kids Day a couple of days before the Uzbekistan tie last month – which is a brilliant way to try and get children inspired to take up tennis. With the new format they won’t be able to do this anymore.”

From a fan perspective, some fear that due to the finals being extended to a week it will put people off travelling to the event. At present, the Davis cup finals are contested between two teams and take place between Friday-Sunday. Kosmos has previously said that they have an attendance target of 200,000 for the 2019 finals.

“I don’t think the idea of having a one week finals event is a good idea at all from a fan perspective in terms of the arrangements they need to make in order to attend it, because the fans will need to provisionally book the full week off work, etc. (plus a day or two both sides of the week for travel) and also accommodation for the full week.”

The ATP Threat

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Amid the Davis Cup fallout, the ATP is quietly working on the rebirth of their team event. From 2020, the World Team Cup will be hosted in Australia at the start of each year. Besides prize money, ranking points will also be up for grabs. Something the Davis Cup is unable to offer. Should there be no adjustment to the calendar, both events will occur within two months (at the end of one season and at the beginning of the next). Meaning that some players may have to prioritise one over the other.

“There is no reason why tennis cannot have more than one team event.” Said McDonald.
“Tennis needs variety and at the moment nearly all tournaments are the same format. We (SUBA) welcome ingenuity and new ideas.
“What we are concerned about are changes to a 118-year-old competition that has served so many fans so well.” He added.

Some are concerned that the World Team Cup could be the start of the end for the Davis Cup. Both Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic have indicated that they will prioritise the ATP’s event. Meanwhile, Alexander Zverev is the first player to confirm that he will skip the 2018 Davis Cup Finals due to its ‘crazy scheduling.’ Adding to the fiasco, the ITF and ATP are yet to find a common ground when it comes to their tournaments.

“If the new Davis Cup format does turn out to be a complete disaster, there may come a time that the ATP World Team Cup could completely take over as the main men’s national team event and could kill of the Davis Cup for good.” McCrea warns.

The 2019 Davis Cup finals will take place between November 18 to 24.

SUBA quick facts

  • Founded in 2009
  • First tie attended – GB vs Ukraine Euro-Africa Zone 1 tie in Glasgow (2009)
  • First away tie attended – GB vs Italy (2014 World Group quarter-finals)
  • Founder Jamie McDonald is the head of the group since
  • Most members they ever had at one tie – 45 (GB vs Argentina in September 2016)
  • Average number of members they have at each tie – between 20 and 40 people.

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Roger Federer Snubs Davis Cup Deadline Issued To Him

The 37-year-old has spoken out about an ultimatum that was given to him by the organisers of the Davis Cup.

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World No.3 Roger Federer has said he was given just three days to decide if he wanted to play in the newly revamped Davis Cup competition, which will take place from 2019 onwards.

The 20-time grand slam champion spoke out about the event following his win over Daniil Medvedev at the Swiss Indoors. Next November, 18 teams will participate in a week-long tournament hosted at the Caja Magica in Spain for the first time. The revamp has split opinion among the tennis community despite it being approved at the International Tennis Federation’s AGM meeting in August. Investment firm Kosmos has pledged to invest $3 billion over the next 25 years in the event.

Speaking about his future participation in the Davis Cup, Federer told reporters on Saturday that has was given a short time frame to make a decision. Confirming that he was issued with a three-day deadline. It is unclear as to why that specific time was given to the Swiss player. Although The Times newspaper had previously reported that Switzerland would have been given a wild card into the finals if Federer committed to play.

“They only left me three days to decide,” Federer told reporters in Basel. “I didn’t to have time to consult with all the people I had to consult.
“I could not make a decision in that time, so I told them to do what they wanted.”

The 20-time grand slam champion has previously cast doubts about playing in the tournament in the future. During the Shanghai Rolex Masters earlier this year, the 37-year-old said the new Davis Cup ‘wasn’t designed for him.’

“We’ll see what happens. I don’t think this was designed for me, anyhow. This was designed for the future generation of players.” He said.

Federer isn’t the only star named uncertain for the event. Alexander Zverev has become the first top 10 player to publicly rule himself out of the finals. Citing the ‘crazy’ scheduling as the reason. The Davis Cup finals occur at the very end of the tennis season after the ATP World Tour Finals. French newspaper L’Equipe has also reported that a boycott letter from a group of players has been sent to the ITF. The names of the players have not been published, but both Federer and Zverev have denied any knowledge about it.

Gerard Pique, who is the founder of Kosmos, has previously played-down the prospect of some star names skipping the event. Recently saying that he is confident that Rafael Nadal will play if not injured, before adding ‘with the number one, it is already more than enough.’

“We want to focus on teams not individuals, on players representing their nation and their federation and on building the best teams possible,” said Pique.

The Davis Cup finals will take place between November 18 to 24.

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Davis Cup Faces Fresh Crises Amid Reports Of Boycott Letter From Top Players

France’s top sports newspaper has obtained information concerning a revolt against the Davis Cup among some top players.

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The International Tennis Federation faces a new headache concerning the revamped Davis Cup after it has been reported that a series of top players have signed a letter refusing to participate.

French national daily newspaper L’Equipe has obtained information from ‘player sources’ in which it has been claimed that some players will boycott the competition. No names have been mentioned about who has signed this letter. As it currently stands, German world No.5 Alexander Zverev is the only person to have publicly said that he will not be participating in the finals due to its ‘crazy’ scheduling.

From 2019, the team tournament will be transferred into a week-long event. After the initial play-offs in February, 18 teams will travel to the Caja Magica in Madrid to play in a tournament replicating that of the world cup. Back by an ITF vote that took place earlier this year, the new format has split opinion. Critics are unhappy with the prospect of playing finals in a neutral location, which ends the 118-year tradition of home and away finals. The event will also take place at the end of the November. Meaning some players may face shorter off-season breaks.

“In November I do not want to play tennis anymore,” Zverev told reporters earlier this month.
“I think all the top guys will say the same thing. We have one and a half months off in our season, and that’s end of November and December.
“Making a tournament end of November which is 10 days playing and competing, it’s crazy.
“By the end of the year we are all tired.”

The driving force behind the concept is Kosmos, which was founded by Barcelona F.C. footballer Gerard Pique. They have pledged to invest millions of pounds into the event over the next 25 years in an agreement with the ITF. Pique has previously played-down the prospect of some star names skipping the event. Saying that he is confident that Rafael Nadal will play if not injured, before adding ‘with the number one, it is already more than enough.’

“We want to focus on teams not individuals, on players representing their nation and their federation and on building the best teams possible,” said Pique.

Despite the notable backing of 11-time French Open champion Nadal, apprehension surrounding the future of the event continues. Both Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer have refrained from committing to the event. Despite both of their countries being offered wild cards to play in the finals, according to The Times Newspaper.

In a recent interview with La Nacion, Kosmos CEO Javier Alonso has said that that there is a ‘unilateral exit’ clause in the contract between his company and ITF. Meaning that if the Davis Cup revamp fails within the next two years, Kosmos can’t walk away from the event. Alonso didn’t elaborate further about the terms of the contract.

The Davis Cup finals will take place between November 18 to 24.

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