The International Tennis Federation has confirmed that home and away finals will be removed from Fed Cup competition in favour of a week-long tournament taking place in a neutral location.
From 2020, the women’s team tournament will follow in the footsteps of the Davis Cup, which underwent a controversial revamp last year. Under the new structure, 12 teams will play in the finals over six days during April. However, home and away ties will still be used in the play-in rounds that will take place during February.
A total of $18 million worth of prize money will be available. The winners of the competition will receive $1.2M for their national federation and an additional $3.2M for players. In comparison, those who reach the group stages will receive $300,000 and $500,000 retrospectively. Overall, $12M will be awarded to players and $6M to national associations.
“The launch of the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas finals will create a festival of tennis that elevates the flagship women’s team competition to a new level, yet remains loyal to the historic core of the Fed Cup.” Said ITF President David Haggerty.
“We have consulted and listened to stakeholders and worked with the WTA and its player council to make sure the new format represents the interests of the players.” He added.
The Hungarian capital of Budapest will be the venue of the newly formatted finals between 2020-2022. It will be held at the László Papp Budapest Sports Arena on two clay courts. The competition will be played in a round-robin format with four groups of three. The winner of each group would then progress to the semi-finals.
Besides the February ties, two countries will be handed wild cards into the finals. Hungary will be one of them and another country is yet to be confirmed. Hungary hasn’t played in the top tier of the competition since 2002. This year’s finalists, Australia and France, have also been given direct entry into the finals.
“Fed Cup has evolved since I was part of the first winning team in 1963 but it has always remained true to its roots.” Said Fed Cup ambassador Billie Jean King.
“These reforms are historic as they reflect the ITF’s commitment to unlocking the Fed Cup huge potential, hosting a competition with prize money deserving of the world’s best women’s teams and players. It is an honour to be part of the next evolution of the greatest event in women’s tennis.”
Not all in favour
Earlier this week Simona Halep confirmed that she will stop playing in the Fed Cup should the format change. Countries like Romania now only have a 50% chance of hosting one Fed Cup tie every year over the next three years.
“I love the Fed Cup and I would never change that,” the former world No.1 told reporters earlier this week.
“If Fed Cup changes I won’t play any more. I like the format now so if they change, it will be tough because Fed Cup means to play home and away.”
Halep’s comments were backed by Karolina Pliskova, who represents the Czech Republic. A team who has won the title six times since 2011. Pliskova played in the final of the competition in 2015 and 2016.
“I think they should not change, because especially for smaller countries like Czech Republic, I think this is something that they always look forward to,” said Pliskova.
“We don’t have many (home) tournaments. We have just one. For Romania, they have maybe one tournament too.
“It’s huge when Simona is playing there. So I understand that if she’s playing somewhere else, you don’t feel the same.”
Fed Cup Finals And Play-Offs Postponed Due to Coronavirus Concerns
The Fed Cup Finals and play-offs have been postponed due to fears over the Coronavirus.
April’s Fed Cup Finals and play-offs have been postponed due to current health concerns associated with the coronavirus.
Today’s announcement comes hours after the Hungarian government announced a ban on any indoor events which has more than 1000 people in it.
The Fed Cup finals were due to take place between the 14th and 19th of April in Budapest but the increasing amount of cases around the world and 13 in Hungary left the ITF with no choice.
In addition, April’s play-offs have also been postponed and will be moved to a later date, with the ITF finding away to solve the problem around eligibility for the summer’s Olympic games.
Speaking on the announcement, ITF President David Haggerty expressed his disappointment but insisted health is more important, “We are extremely disappointed to have to make this decision, but we will not risk the safety and welfare of players, captains, event staff or spectators,” Haggerty said.
“This decision has not been made lightly; the threat posed by the COVID-19 is a serious one and calls for us to act responsibly as a federation and as human beings. This situation goes beyond sport.
“New dates for the Finals and for the Play-offs will be announced in due course and will primarily be guided by the length of time that tennis as a whole is affected by COVID-19. We will continue to collaborate with our colleagues across the sport to ensure that the impact on players, tournaments, rights holders and fans is as minimal as possible.”
The Fed Cup Finals and play-offs are the second tennis event to be postponed because of the coronavirus after the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells was cancelled a couple of days ago.
Currently the Miami Open is set to go ahead although there is a big chance that this tournament could also be cancelled.
The ATP and WTA tournament at the Hard Rock Stadium is set to start on Monday the 25th of March.
Fed Cup Finals Draw: Australia And Czech Republic Given Tricky Tests In Budapest
Australia and Czech Republic have been handed difficult draws for the Fed Cup Finals in Budapest in April.
Australia and Czech Republic have been given tricky draws ahead of the inaugural Fed Cup Finals in Budapest.
The event in Hungary takes place on the 14th-19th of April on clay to prepare players for the clay-court season that will approach.
In the inaugural event there are 12 nations competing for the Fed Cup title with the four group winners advancing to the semi-finals.
Ahead of April’s Fed Cup finale, the draw was announced today which has seen some mouth-watering matches set to take place.
Last year’s finalist’s Australia are in Group B and they have been given tricky tests against a strong Belarus team and Belgium.
Belarus have Aryna Sabalenka, Aliaksandra Sasnovich and Victoria Azarenka at their disposal while Belgium will be lead by Elise Mertens.
Meanwhile the other group in their half of the draw will see Czech Republic will face tough tests against Germany and a Switzerland team lead by Belinda Bencic.
On the other side of the draw, defending champions France will look to successfully defend their title when they face Russia and hosts Hungary.
Given the scenarios, this is a fairly good draw for France who would regard clay as their strongest surface and are favourites to make the last four.
In the last four, France could play USA who have been drawn with Spain and Slovakia who beat Great Britain in last weekend’s qualifiers.
Here is the full draw with the full round-robin schedule for April’s finals set to be released on Monday:
Winner of Group A v Winner of Group C
Winner of Group B v Winner of Group D
Great Britain Handed Mexican Away Trip In Fed Cup Play-Off Draw
Great Britain face another away tie as they travel to Mexico in the Fed Cup Play-Offs.
Great Britain have been handed an away trip to Mexico in the Fed Cup Play-Off draw as they look to compete in next year’s qualifiers.
The Brits, who were without Johanna Konta in their 3-1 defeat away to Slovakia, will now head to Mexico in April looking to avoid being relegated to Zone Group I.
Just like their tie in Bratislava, they are likely to be without Johanna Konta who has one eye on the Olympic Games and also like their tie this past weekend the tie will probably be on clay.
However this time the British team will be favourites to make next year’s Fed Cup qualifiers as the Mexican don’t have a single Women’s singles player in the top 200.
There will be eight Fed Cup play-offs which will be played on the 17th and 18th of April, with the eight winners joining eight teams from the Fed Cup finals.
14 of the 16 teams are confirmed with the Asia/Oceania Zone Group I still needed to be played in early March in Dubai after the Coronavirus epidemic meant that China couldn’t host the event in February.
Here is the full Fed Cup play-off draw:
(C) = Choice of Ground
Brazil v Poland (C)
Great Britain v Mexico (C)
Canada v Serbia (C)
Latvia (C) v Asia/Oceania Nation TBC
Japan (C) v Ukraine
Romania (C) v Italy
Kazakhstan v Argentina (C)
Netherlands (C) v Asia/Oceania Nation TBC
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