The upcoming Davis Cup final will be an historic event in the competition’s history for a reason that has divided that sport in recent months.
Reigning champions France will take on Croatia in Lille at the Stade Pierre-Mauro. Captained by Yannick Noah, France are bidding to win back-to-back titles for the first time since 1932 during the era of the ‘four musketeers.’ A quartet of players from the country who won 20 singles and 23 doubles grand slam titles during the 1920s and 1930s. In contrast, Croatia is bidding to win the event for only the second time and the first since 2005.
Regardless of the outcome, both countries will be embedded in Davis Cup history with 2018 being the final year the current format takes place. Next year will see the event transformed into a weeklong final that will feature 18 teams in one location. Removing the 118-year tradition of home and away finals. The plan has come to life with the help of a $3 billion investment from Kosmos Tennis with the International Tennis Federation claiming that national associations will receive more money under the new format. Although that promise has failed to silence its critics.
“I will not be competing in the next Davis Cup, that’s for sure. I do not like it at all, it’s a total draw, I will not play in Madrid in November 2019.” Lucas Pouille told local radio earlier this week, according to welovetennis.fr.
Few will deny that the Davis Cup has been in need of a change for a long time, but many believe this is too radical. On the eve on the this year’s final, Noah launched a fresh attack on the governing bodies of tennis. Accusing them of prioritising money over everything else.
“This event was the event of the people, where you could come to Lille, where they never had tennis.” Noah said during an interview with HRT Sport. “This is an opportunity to bring tennis to places where they don’t have the opportunity and this (the Davis Cup) was the only event that did that.”
“The people who decided for me (to change the format), decided in their high offices, making more money, but it is not the same event. I really hope they have the decency to not call this Davis Cup.“
— HRT Sport (@HRTsport) November 22, 2018
Kosmos, which was founded by footballer Gerard Pique, has repeatedly hit back at criticism of their new event. Critics say that it is the beginning of the end of the competition with the resurrection of the World Team Cup posing a major threat. An ATP team event that will take place at the start of each year in Australia from 2020. Unlike the Davis Cup, the ATP can offer ranking points alongside its prize pool of $15 million.
There are also unanswered questions about if the big players of the sport will feature in November’s final. Alexander Zverev has ruled himself out of competing due to its ‘crazy scheduling,’ but has said he will place in the February ties. Meanwhile Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer remain 50/50 about their future involvement.
“I think it’s not sustainable. It will happen that we will have two average events. So I think creating one event is an ideal scenario and I think outcome for everyone,” Djokovic commented about the two team competitions.
“From what I’ve heard from conversations with people from all of the sides, different sides in this sport, they all want to have one event because it’s over-saturated with different cups, different events.
“We have to try to focus on quality rather than quantity.”
Fortunately the Davis Cup has a lifeline thanks to the Olympic qualification criteria. Players have to play a certain amount of ties in the event in order to be considered for selection to play at the Olympic Games, which will next take place in 2020.
It is unknown as to what will happen in the future. Will the Davis Cup survive? Will it merge with the ATP? It is these uncertainties that continue to mar the competition.
The Davis Cup isn’t dead, but its survival isn’t looking too promising at the moment. Which is why the showdown between France and Croatia this weekend will be special.
Is Covid-19 Just An Excuse To Axe The 2020 Davis Cup Finals?
The decision to cancel the team event five months before it was set to start may be more complex than what officials are letting on.
On Friday the International Tennis Federation issued a statement to confirm that their two premier tennis team events will not be taking place this year.
The Davis Cup and Fed Cup tournaments have been delayed until 2021 due to the global uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. For the Davis Cup, it is only the 12th time in history a season has ended without a champion being decided since its birth in 1900 and the first since 1945. The teams that have qualified for the week-long finals this year will instead have to wait until November 2021 to battle it out for the title.
“This is a tough decision to have to make, but delivering an international team event on this scale while guaranteeing the health and safety of all involved ultimately poses too great a risk,” ITF President David Haggerty said in a statement. “It is a complex undertaking and we have made the decision now to provide certainty for players, national associations and fans.”
There are however some questions over why the ITF has made this announcement five months before the start of the tournament. Especially when both the ATP and WTA Tours are set to restart in August. Furthermore Madrid, where this year’s finals were scheduled to take place, will still host their premier combined event at the Caja Magica in September.
“It’s the inconsistencies that I find tedious. Two months before the Davis Cup was meant to be playing we are playing at the same venue in Madrid for the masters. In regards to the crowds there seemed to be a fair bit of social distancing at this event last year,” John Millman wrote on Twitter.
It appears that there could be a more substantial financial reason to postpone the Kosmos-backed event. Investment company Kosmos was founded by Gerard Pique and has pledged millions into the Davis Cup in a deal to help revamp it. French newspaper L’Equipe have quoted sources reporting that the event lost an astonishing 50 million euros in 2019, which was the first year where the new format took place. Furthermore, it has been reported that the decision to scrap November’s event will help save 18 million euros.
Furthermore, one senior figure at Tennis Canada has suggested that Pique had tried to do everything he could to prevent the tournament from taking place. Louis Borfiga, who serves as his country’s Vice President of High Performance, said he believes there has been no meetings with the federations prior to Friday’s announcement.
“While everyone is doing everything possible to try to replay, I have the impression that Piqué did everything to prevent the Davis Cup from taking place this year,” he said in a separate interview with L’Equipe.
“ They (Kosmos leaders) put forward health reasons, I hope they are the right ones. They are going to have the right role. There is nothing we can say about health.”
“When I read the official press release, I am surprised by one thing. It is Piqué who speaks first, and the president of the ITF (David Haggerty) after. That too is shocking.” He added.
Borfiga is not alone in this view. Back in March tennis player Nicola Mahut criticised Pique for not being more optimistic about holding the finals this year. The Spaniard had previously said he was ‘pessimistic’ about having the event without fans.
“The message he sent through his statements is: ” If Madrid is complicated and we cannot do it, well it will be cancelled and he will save some money.” Mahut commented.
According to Diario AS, the Madrid economy will lose in the region of 50 million euros due to the finals not being held. Furthermore, it is estimated that 600 jobs would have been created to support the running of the tournament from start to finish.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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