ITF President Confirms Hopman Cup Will Return In 2021. But How Will It Work? - UBITENNIS
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ITF President Confirms Hopman Cup Will Return In 2021. But How Will It Work?

The Hopman Cup is set to make a re-entry into the tennis calendar in 2021. “I can confirm we have interest from every continent” says Haggerty, but it seems unlikely the ITF will be able to find a new date to preserve the event’s original appeal

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David Haggerty at the 2019 ITF Annual General Meeting in Lisbon (photo ITF)

The Hopman Cup, the mixed-gender competition that was one of the victims of the ATP Cup, the newly-created team competition organized by the ATP and Tennis Australia, is set to make a return during the 2021 season.

 

The recently re-elected President of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) David Haggerty has confirmed during a phone interview with Reuters that plans are being made for a return of the competition during the next season: “Our plan is to re-introduce it for 2021. We don’t have plans for the Hopman Cup in 2020 but we are going out to the market for expressions of interest and we have already had quite a few enquiries.”

Of course, the original slot during the first week of January is no longer available, since it is now occupied by the ATP Cup, which will see its first edition take place between 3rd and 12th January 2020 in three Australian cities including Perth, Western Australia, that has hosted the competition since the beginning in 1989. That was really an ideal time of the year for such an event, with most players going to Australia after the winter training block and looking to play a few matches before the first Slam of the year a couple of weeks later in Melbourne.

It could really be anywhere in the world and any time in the calendar,” confirmed Haggerty, who however failed to mention that it will be far from easy to find a more suitable slot in the ATP and WTA calendars to make the competition palatable for the big names that have played at the RAC Arena in Perth during the past editions. For example, last January Switzerland played the United States during a Round Robin tie, that traditionally consisted of one men’s singles, one women’s singles and a final mixed doubles; on that occasion the Hopman Cup showcased arguably the two most successful players of all times, Roger Federer and Serena Williams, in a mixed doubles match that represented an unparalleled promotional opportunity for tennis.

Top players nowadays are extremely careful with their scheduling and the presence of these marquee names can only be assured if the date of the competition does not interfere with their plans to perform at their best at Grand Slam events.

The reason to do the expressions of interest is really to get the feedback from the nations and cities that have an interest and see what their proposal would be,” Haggerty added, “and I can confirm we have interest from every continent.

It is reassuring to hear the ITF President so engaged in bringing back this very popular competition, but the position in the calendar is really crucial to the success and the livelihood of these events, and the ITF has very little clout to shuffle events around and make room for this “prodigal son”. Let’s not forget that the new multi-million dollar Davis Cup Finals, scheduled to take place in Madrid next month for the first time in its highly controversial new formula, is going to see its opening match start just a few hours after the end of the Nitto ATP Finals in London, in a scheduling jam that is likely to cost the participation of some of the big names to the kermesse at the Caja Magica. But the ITF only had that week available, all negotiations with the ATP were unfruitful and it was forced to hold its flagship event right at the end of the season when most players are exhausted and longing for a well-deserved break at the Maldives before the season starts again in Australia.

If the ITF couldn’t get a more suitable date in the calendar for its main event, what are the chances they will be able to get a decent slot for the Hopman Cup, a competition with far less tradition and that will require negotiations not only with the ATP but also with the WTA?

Davis Cup

Former Grand Slam Champion Hits Out At ‘Abysmal’ Davis Cup

Australia’s most successful doubles player in Davis Cup history isn’t happy about the changes made to team event.

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Former world No.1 Doubles player Todd Woodbridge has taken a fresh swipe at the revamped Davis Cup and their allocation of wild cards for the 2020 finals.

 

The 48-year-old has blasted the format of the historic team event following major changes that was made this year. Last month was the first time the finals took place over a week with 18 teams participating in one location in Madrid. At the event there was a few blips with the scheduling being at times problematic. Highlighted by the tie between the USA and Italy that went on until 4am.

Despite the issues, there were also positives to be taken away from the event, which was won by Spain. However, Woodbridge remains a critic. The Australian is his country’s most successful doubles player in the history of the Davis Cup with 25 wins under his belt. Overall, he played in 32 ties over a 14-year period (1991-2005).

“The tennis itself has been brilliant, the organisation has been abysmal,” Woodbridge said on Australian programme Sports Sunday.
“Everything from IT issues, to playing matches that finish at 4am, and then today the ITF go, ‘Well we’re going to put in more wild cards.”

It is the wild cards decision that has irritated the 16-time grand slam champion the most. Recently it was announced that Serbia and France has been handed passes into the finals next November. Meaning that will not have to go through the play-off ties. Woodbridge has suggested the move was deliberately made in order to persuade Novak Djokovic to play in the event again.

“They’ve given wild cards this week, for 12 months’ time. You’ve got to ask the question, how can you do that? It looks like they’re guaranteeing Novak Djokovic a spot for next year … ‘We want you back so we’re going to guarantee you can be there, you don’t have to play the qualifying match earlier in the year,” he said.
“And then France have also been put in, so you’ve got to ask the question, the President of the ITF is also French and I’m sure he’s had a big influence in that discussion. They’ve got so many things to fix if it’s going to be a success next year.
“The biggest issue was crowd. We (Australia) played our first match with about 400 people watching, and that’s a great disappointment.”

Gerard Pique if the founder of Kosmos, whose investment has enabled the transformation of the Davis cup. In a recent interview with Spanish media, he said the allocation of a wild card to France was done so the country ‘feel part of the competition because the format will continue like this.’

“We’re delighted with how everything went and above all with the final, which Spain won,” he told Onda Cero about the 2019 Davis Cup finals. “There are things which need to be improved, like the times of the games, which has an easy solution in the form of adding another court and changing the times a little bit.”

The 2020 Davis Cup qualifying rounds will get underway in March.

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Davis Cup

Roberto Bautista Agut: ‘My Father Would Have Given Me An Earful If I Had Stayed At Home’

The Spaniard opens up about his decision to return to the Davis Cup following the death of his father.

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MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 17: Roberto Bautista of Spain during a training session of Davis Cup by Rakuten Madrid Finals 2019 at Caja Magica on November 17, 2019 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Diego Souto / Kosmos Tennis)

Throughout the Davis Cup finals player’s have illustrated their commitment to their country in the competition, but Roberto Bautista Agut took it to another level.

 

The world No.9 was hit with personal tragedy half-way through the event in Madrid. On November 21st Bautista Agut left the competition to return home after receiving the news that his father’s health had taken a turn for the worse. Ximo Bautista had a serious domestic accident three years ago, which caused serious health issues. He passed away shortly after his son returned home.

Grieving for the loss of his father, 18 months after his mother died, Bautista Agut attended his funeral on Saturday. 24 hours after that he was back playing in the Davis Cup once again representing Spain.

“I made the decision to go home on Thursday and I was lucky to be with my father the last minutes of his life and say goodbye to him.” Bautista Agut told reporters. “My father would have given me an earful if I had stayed at home.”

The unexpected and admirable return of the 31-year-old brought glory to his team on Sunday. In the first tie of the final, Bautista Agut disposed of Felix Auger-Aliassime in straight sets to hand the hosts the lead. Victory was then sealed in the following match after Rafael Nadal defeated Denis Shapovalov.

“When I took the car to come (back to the Davis Cup), the last thing on my mind was to play,” he said.
“But in the final, my head wanted to face that game, and luckily it went well.’
“I didn’t know if I could measure up, but I left everything there. The moment has been very beautiful and unrepeatable.”

World No.1 Nadal has described his rival as an ‘inspiration’ for showing his commitment to the Davis Cup. Bautista Agut played a total of three matches in the seven-day event, winning two of those. His victory over Auger-Aliassime made him only the 10th Spanish player in history to have won a match in a Davis Cup final.

“What Roberto did today (Sunday) is something out of this planet,” Nadal said. “Roberto has been an inspiration to all of us.
“Whatever happens this cannot be a climax for someone who has lost his father this week.”

The Davis Cup triumph caps off what has been a strong season for Bautista Agut, who has cracked the year-end top 10 for the first time in his career. His only title took place back in January where he won the Qatar Open. At Wimbledon he reached his first-ever grand slam semi-final. Overall, Bautista Agut achieved a win-loss of 42-22.

The Spanish No.2 will marry his longtime girlfriend next weekend.

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Davis Cup

Rafael Nadal, Roberto Bautista Agut Guide Spain To Davis Cup Glory

Spain has ended their eight-year title drought at the newly revamped competition.

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Rafael Nadal (image via Image via Kosmos Tennis)

World No.1 Rafael Nadal has clinched the Davis Cup title for Spain after defeating Denis Shapovalov in straight sets to give his country an unassailable lead in their clash against Canada.

 

Nadal, who hasn’t lost a match throughout the entire week in Madrid, overcame some spirited play from across the court to prevail 6-3, 7-6(7). Sealing the trophy for his country for the first time since 2011.

During his clash with Shapovalov, the 16-time grand slam champion broke once during the opening set, but was tested thoroughly in the second. Fighting his way through some lengthy service games with one of those lasting almost 10 minutes.

It would be a dramatic tiebreaker where he sealed the victory. It looked as if Nadal would be strolling to the win after hitting an ace to claim two match points at 6-4. However, both of those were saved by forehand winners from Shapovalov who drew level once again.  It would be third time lucky for Nadal after a shot from across the court slammed into the net. Prompting him to drop to the ground in tears of joy.

“I could not be happier. It has been an unforgettable moment in this amazing stadium (Caja Magica).” Said Nadal.
“Our team spirit prevailed. We fought hard.” He added.

The Spanish team got off to a solid start in the tie thanks to Roberto Bautista Agut’s admirable return to the competition. 31-year-old Agut left the event half-way through the week due to his seriously ill father who sadly passed away. However, he came back to Madrid and got the hosts their first point after disposing of an error-stricken Felix Auger-Aliassime 7-6(3), 6-3. The 19-year-old, who was playing his first match in the seven-day competition, committed 45 unforced errors.

“It was a very special feeling on the court,” Agut told Eurosport after.
“I just could go out and try my best, give my best.
“I am very happy I could win the first point for Spain.”

Image via Kosmos Tennis

The Spanish team were unbeaten on home soil this week. Scoring wins over Russia, Croatia, Argentina and Great Britain. Making them the first ever winners of the revamped Davis Cup, which featured a total of 18 teams in finale.

“It has been an amazing week. There have been a lot of things we went through.” Nadal reflected.
“The father of Roberto passed away, Marcel (Granollers) yesterday was stiff with his lower back and Pablo (Carreno-Busta) getting injured in the singles. A lot of things happened.”

Captain’s tribute

Nadal’s commitment to the competition has been hailed by captain Sergi Bruguera. Who described the world No.1 as being ‘out of this world.’ He has played in eight matches with five of those being in the singles competition. Overall, he dropped only one set in his doubles match against Russia.

“Rafa, I don’t know if he is out of this world.” Said Bruguera.
“Throughout this week I don’t think there was one day we went to sleep before 3am. One day, I think it was Friday, he went to sleep at 5:10am and then he was playing singles and doubles again (the next day).”

Although Nadal was a key figure in the triumph, it wasn’t just him that guided his country to victory. It is the sixth time in History Spain has won the event. Historically, there are now ten Spanish men who have won a match in a Davis Cup final.

“The truth is when you have this kind of moment it is difficult to describe in words because there are so many feelings. So many emotions I have never felt before.” Their captain explained.
“I have no words for this. Roberto was at his father’s funeral yesterday and now he was here (in Madrid) giving everything.’
“The mentality, spirit and concentration of the team I have no idea how to describe.”

Spain has a chance to defend their title on home soil next year with Madrid being the chosen host of the 2020 finals.

Image via Kosmos Tennis

 

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