Gerard Pique, ITF Dreaming Of Two-Week Tennis Super Cup Despite Concerns - UBITENNIS
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Davis Cup

Gerard Pique, ITF Dreaming Of Two-Week Tennis Super Cup Despite Concerns

It seems this week’s new Davis Cup Finals is only the start of what the ITF hopes to do in the future.

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MADRID, SPAIN - NOVEMBER 16: Gerard Pique speaks at the Official Dinner of Davis Cup by Rakuten Madrid Finals 2019 at Galeria de Cristal Palacio de Cibeles on November 16, 2019 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos / Kosmos Tennis)

Two key stakeholders of the revamped Davis Cup have both voiced their backing to an even more ambitious project that will include women’s tennis as well.

 

ITF president David Haggerty and Kosmos founder Gerard Pique are hoping that they will be able to one day combine the Davis Cup and Fed Cup so that both tournaments coincide with each other. Something that has never been done in the history of the sport. At present the Davis Cup finals take place at the end of the season in November and the Fed Cup equivalent is held in April. From 2020 both events will have the same structure.

“We recently announced, the Fed Cup finals will be in Budapest for the next three years beginning in April 2020. Long-term, it would make a lot of sense to have a combined competition, our Davis Cup and our Fed Cup kind of the World Cup of Tennis together.” Haggerty told reporters on Sunday.
“But I think we take things step by step because it takes a lot of stakeholders to make a change like that. But it could be great for the game.”

Whilst the idea of a super cup sounds like a logical idea, in reality it is much harder for such a plan to come to life. The tennis calendar is already crammed and having a two-week event at the end of the year would eat into player’s off-season rest period. Something that would not go down too well. The ITF and ATP have previously held discussions about moving the Davis Cup finals, but failed to come to an agreement.

Pique, whose company will $3 billion into the Davis Cup over 25 years, has voiced his desire to one day also inject financial support into the Fed Cup. Saying his company has shown interest from ‘day one.’ However, his immediate focus is on the men’s event.

“Since day one, I think we showed interest to the ITF. What we said to them is obviously we wanted to go step by step. And Davis Cup on itself, it was a big, big project. We don’t want to try to do too much because then you don’t do things right.” He said.
“So for us now, we are fully focused on trying to year-by-year, make this competition and this event even better and bigger. And in three years, let’s see where we are.”

New leadership, new deal?

The hopes of both Pique and Haggerty is that they will be able to strike a new agreement with the man who replaces Chris Kermode as the head of the ATP. Andrea Gaudenzi, who is a former top 20 player from Italy, will take the position next year. Gaudenzi played 33 matches in the Davis Cup between 1994-2000.

It is the ATP’s rival team event that is causing the deadlock between the two governing bodies. The ATP Cup will start in January with both ranking points and prize money up for grabs.

“In tennis one of the biggest challenges we face as a sport is the calendar. And the ITF and Kosmos have always said that we are very open to have conversations, and we will with the ATP, there’s new leadership, to talk about the calendar.” Haggerty stated.

Barcelona centre-back Pique is also optimistic that a deal can be organised where the Davis Cup and ATP Cup could one day be merged into one. Something that has been publicly back by Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. Although if that were to happen, it is unclear as to how the Fed Cup could also factor in.

“I think it’s the best for tennis. It makes no sense to have right now two different competitions that are very similar. And this is the way we are going. We are very happy that in the next few months I think we will start talking again with the ATP. And I hope in the next few months we can announce something.”

The problems

Whilst big plans have been laid out for the future, there are more pressing concerns that need attention sooner. The week-long Davis Cup finals wasn’t without it’s blips. The most noticeable being one of the group ties going on until four in the morning. The last match to be played was the second latest-finishing match in the history of the sport.

Options are now on the table about what to do about this issue for 2020. One of which involves the possibility of building a fourth court.

“To build a fourth court to try to solve the problem with the issue about the times, and if it’s in WiZink Center here in Madrid or maybe to build a fourth court here in La Caja Mágica.” Pique commented.
“Both options are right now are on the table. We will ask the players, at the end of the day, the opinion of the players are the most, that matters for us, to see what they want, what they prefer.”

Another topic was the crowd. With the exception of the home nation, there was certain ties that had low attendance compared to that of the old format. Highlighting one of the negatives to hosting such a big multi-national event in one city. However, Pique has an alternative theory.

“I think that a lot of people didn’t know what to expect or they didn’t know how the format will go. So there were a lot of people that were waiting to see what will happen and then decide for next year.”

Elaborating further, Haggerty acknowledges that not everything is perfect.

“We’re going to listen to all the stakeholders. We feel that it’s a fantastic start, a great foundation, but there are always improvements, as Gerard said, that we will make.” He concluded.

Davis Cup

Davis Cup In Danger After Kosmos Ends Partnership 

The 25-year $3bn deal in place to protect the team event is coming to an end. It remains to be seen what happens next.

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MADRID, SPAIN - DECEMBER 05: Davis Cup by Rakuten Madrid Finals 2021 at Madrid Arena on December 05, 2021 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos / Quality Sport Images / Kosmos Tennis)

The future of the Davis Cup has been thrown into jeopardy following the departure of investment company Kosmos after they reportedly failed to reach a financial agreement with the International Tennis Federation. 

 

Rumours of the partnership breaking up started to surface on social media on Thursday but Ubitennis has since been able to confirm that this is true through a national tennis federation source. According to the Spanish newspaper Marca, Kosmos’ exit from the Davis Cup occurred after they failed to reach an agreement with the ITF concerning the $40M fee per year.

The development is a massive blow for the ITF who originally signed a 25-year deal with Kosmos worth in the region of $3bn back in 2018 after their AGM voted in favour of making changes to the event. Something that prompted a substantial divide in the sport with critics accusing them of trying to destroy the historic team competition which has been in existence since 1900. Under the agreement, Kosmos took sole responsibility for the Davis Cup and its format. 

During recent interviews with Ubitennis over the past three months, the CEO of Kosmos, Enrique Rojas, claimed the organization had desires to make the Davis Cup as prominent as a Grand Slam and said in a separate interview that he wanted to use ‘global ambassadors’ to promote the event. 

The timeframe of the negotiations has not been made public and therefore it is unclear when Kosmos officially ended their collaboration. 

One of the first officials to react to the development was Dirk Hordotff from the German Tennis Federation who agreed with Ubitennis for his remarks to be published. Hordorff is the current coach of Ricardas Berankis and has previously worked with former world No.5 Rainer Schuettler for 20 years. 

“Time to review and heal this nonsense,” he said. 
‘Bring back home and away ties which makes the Davis Cup so unique.’
“Solve the key issues of the problem: no short notice for organizations of the ties and have a minimum preparation for each event of one year. Don’t play the final every year and don’t play (the event) in Olympic years. The best thing during an Olympic year would be to have a team event at the Olympics.”

There is yet to be an official statement from either the ITF or Kosmos. However, an ITF spokesperson has confirmed to the AFP news Agency that the partnership is ‘ending in its fifth year.’ It is understood that this year’s Davis Cup will continue under the sole control of the ITF but it remains to be seen what happens to the future of the event. 

As for Kosmos, they will still stay involved in tennis in some capacity. Earlier this month they announced the signings of Elina Svitolina, Borna Coric and Andrey Rublev to their management branch. 

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ATP

Criticism From Fellow Australians Deterring Nick Kyrgios From Davis Cup Duties 

The tennis star has taken a swipe at his critics while discussing his commitment to the team tournament and if he will participate in it again.

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Nick Kyrgios (AUS) playing against Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) in the third round of the Gentlemen's Singles on No.1 Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 6 Saturday 03/07/2021. Credit: AELTC/Jonathan Nackstrand

Nick Kyrgios says his decision to not play in the Davis Cup is partly linked to what he describes as ‘negative’ comments from fans in his home country. 

 

The Wimbledon runner-up was absent from the Australian team at this year’s finale which was held in Malaga last month. Australia, which was led by Alex de Minaur, reached the final before losing to Canada. 

Despite his success on the Tour, Kyrgios hasn’t played in the Davis Cup since 2019. In the past, he has been publicly criticized for his behaviour in the sport and commitment to tennis. Speaking with the Australian Associated Press, the world No.22 said his decision not to play is partly related to his calendar and desire to spend time at home with his family. Although he admits that he would be tempted to get more involved in the event if he was ‘embraced more’ by the public. 

“Maybe if Australia embraced me a little bit more, I would play it and bring home the trophy,” he told AAP.
“But who knows?
“It’s not always easy for me to erase everything in Australia that’s said negatively about me or my family.
“You don’t need that – so it’s interesting that they really want me to play, but are always criticising.”

The 27-year-old is no stranger to controversy and is known for receiving numerous code violations during matches. At his worst, he was slammed with a suspended ban three years ago from the ATP for ‘aggravated behaviour’ following an investigation. 

However, Kyrgios’ controversial antics subsided during the 2022 season where he has reached new heights such as reaching his first Grand Slam final at Wimbledon and winning the Australian Open doubles title with Thanasi Kokkinakis. He also won the Washington Open in August.

“I don’t forget the first seven years of my career … they can’t just pick and choose,” Kyrgios commented on the support he has received.
“Look, I’ve always been one of the best players in the world – I’ve always held up my fair share of the bargain towards Australia.
“I feel like this is the first year I’ve earned respect when it should have been given when I first came on tour.
“I’ve represented (Australians), put them on the map, and having produced one of the most successful male years in the last decade for Australia, and am only just getting embraced (now).
“I don’t think that’s my fault.”

Kyrgios returned to the courts on Thursday to play at the lucrative Diriyah Tennis Cup in Saudi Arabia where the champion will receive $1M in prize money. However, his title chances have been ended by Cameron Norrie who beat him 10-6, 10-6, to reach the quarter-finals. 

Quizzed about his decision to play at the exhibition event instead of the Davis Cup, the tennis star said it was an easy decision considering the reception he has received from fans and critics. 

“At this point of my career, I’ll always do what’s best for me,” he stated. 
“I can travel around the world playing exhibitions around this time of year for six figures – you know I feel I put myself in that position – so it’s an easy one for me.”

Kyrgios remains coy about his future in the Davis Cup after saying he might contemplate returning to the competition. 

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Davis Cup

Tennis Great Jimmy Connors Criticizes Suspended Ban Of Davis Cup Staff Over Betting Violation

The eight-time Grand Slam winner has hit back at a ruling made by the International Tennis Integrity Agency.

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Jimmy Connors, 62 anni

Jimmy Connors believes tennis needs to embrace bettering after branding the decision to penalize two members of the American Davis Cup team for promoting a gambling organization as ‘going back to the dark ages.’ 

 

Team captain Mardy Fish and coach Bob Byran have been both issued with a $10,000 fine after admitting to promoting a gaming operator on their social media accounts. The duo have also been hit with a four-month suspended ban which means they must not commit any further offences during this period or they will be excluded from ITF events. 

Whilst both Fish and Bryan are retired players, they are still subject to the rules of the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) as they are considered ‘covered persons’ in the sport due to the nature of their roles. The rulebook states that “directly or indirectly facilitating, encouraging and/or promoting” betting on tennis is not allowed.

“Bob and I did a DraftKings promo during the US Open that we were unaware we weren’t allowed to do,” Fish told The Associated Press via email. “As soon as we found out, I deleted the posts and cooperated with the ITIA.”

Weighing in on the issue, former world No.1 Connors argued that betting can have a positive impact on tennis and that the governing bodies should do more to capitalize on the opportunity. Whilst it is an offence for players and their staff to promote gambling, various tournaments around the world have sponsorship deals with betting companies. 

“So what’s the bad thing? Do they wanna go back to the dark ages?,” Connors said on the Advantage Connors podcast
“That (betting) just brings people more involved and get them more interested you know, what is going on with the players, who is the best, how they compete and so forth.”
“Tennis has been my life, but the excitement of being a basketball fan or baseball fan or football fan, the excitement of bringing that (betting) and being able to get more involved. I wanna watch tennis anyway but what’s gonna make me more involved and to be more part of it?” he added. 

In the past, Connors has been open about his gambling addiction. In his autobiography, the Outsider, he revealed he once placed a $1M bet on his battle of the sexes match against Martina Navratilova in 1992 which he won 7-5, 6-2. He has since recovered from his gambling addiction but still believes it can mix with tennis. 

Connors is the most decorated ATP singles player in history with 109 titles to his name.  

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