Gerard Pique, ITF Dreaming Of Two-Week Tennis Super Cup Despite Concerns - UBITENNIS
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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 Will Be A Chance To Honour Queen Elizabeth II, Says Andy Murray

The LTA has decided to go ahead with staging the event following the death of Britain’s longest-reigning monarch.

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Andy Murray (GBR) - Credit: AELTC/Edward Whitaker

Three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray has paid tribute to the Queen by saying the upcoming Davis Cup event in Glasgow will provide an opportunity to celebrate her life. 

 

Queen Elizabeth II passed away last Thursday at the age of 96 which has sent Britain into a period of national mourning. She was the longest reigning member of the British Royal family in history with her reign lasting 70 years between 1952-2022. The Queen presented Virginia Wade with the Wimbledon trophy in 1977 which is the last time a British woman has won the title. 

Murray was knighted by the Royal Family after winning Wimbledon and an Olympic gold medal for the second time. The former world No.1 believes this week’s Davis Cup will be used as a way for those involved to pay their respects.  

“It’s obviously been a very sad week with the news about the Queen passing away, but I think here will be a chance for everyone to show how much she meant to everyone,” Murray told Sky Sports.

Ahead of Great Britain’s first tie against America on Wednesday, there will be a one-minute silence. The British team will also wear black armbands or ribbons throughout the event as a mark of respect.

“I’m sure there’ll be songs sung and a minute’s silence observed,” Murray continued. 
“She obviously had an amazing life and I think here, these few days when GB are competing, will be a chance to celebrate her and everything that she did.
“I was very fortunate to get the opportunity to play in front of her and compete at Wimbledon when she came along to watch which was a really nice memory for me.”

Murray, who was an instrumental figure in Britain last winning the Davis Cup in 2015, will be hoping to help his team secure this place in the finals later this year. Besides America, they will also face the Netherlands and Kazakhstan in the tournament. 

The host team will also feature Cameron Norrie, Dan Evans, Joe Salisbury and Neal Skupski. They must finish the week inside the top two to secure their place in the finals which will take place in Malaga between November 22-27. 

“It’s an opportunity for us to use all of the players in the team,” Murray commented. 
“It’s a bit different [this time]. Obviously we have a very strong team, a lot of depth, which hasn’t always been the case over the last 20 years or so.
“Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski originally would play pretty much all of the matches together. Then I played the bulk of the singles and doubles matches for a period of time.
“It’s obviously great to be playing back in the Davis Cup, representing Great Britain again, I’ve always loved doing it, especially here at the Emirates.”

Glasgow is one of four countries hosting the group stages of the competition along with Bologna in Italy, Hamburg in Germany and Valencia in Spain. 

The competition will take place between 13-18 September. 

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(Exclusive) Albert Costa: “Davis Cup Finals Are Going To Remain The Best Of Three Sets”

Last week at the Barcelona Open during one of the many suspensions due to the rainy weather UbiTennis had a chat with 2002 French Open champion Albert Costa in the elegant clubhouse of the Real Club de Tennis de Barcelona.

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By Federico Bertelli, translated by Kingsley Elliot Kaye

Born in Lleida, Albert Costa grew up as a tennis player at the  Real Club de Tennis de Barcelona and also won the tournament in 1997. When he retired from tennis he became the director of the tournament until three years ago when he handed it over to David Ferrer. One of the best stands on the centre court takes his name. Until the 1980s the tennis stadium was the Spanish team’s Davis Cup home.

 

Now, after stepping down from his role at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell, Albert Costa has become tournament director of the Davis Cup which is now advertised as “The World Cup of Tennis.” 

UBITENNIS: Players have asked to be able conclude their season before playing the Davis Cup. As a result, the group ties which will determine the eight quarter finalists have been moved to September and the final knockout stage will unfold over five days. What can you tell us about this? Is it going to be a definitive format?

Albert Costa: It hasn’t been confirmed yet but likely it will be six days starting on Tuesday until Sunday. It is not yet agreed with ITF but, as organisers of the event, our intention is to play from Tuesday to Sunday at the end of November. As far as the future is concerned, we are trying to find the best solution. We are aware that the first years will require some fine tuning but I believe that in the next one or two years we’re going to reach a consolidated format, which will enable us to work comfortably and to give certainty to our stakeholders. 

UBITENNIS: In 2022 and 2023 the Davis Cup will be played in Malaga. Can you tell us anything more about the selection process, considering that last year they were speaking about Abu Dhabi and then at the beginning of 2022 a neutral location was being considered?

Albert Costa: Actually we were in negotiations with Abu Dhabi, there was a concrete proposal. Then Malaga came up with a very attractive proposal and at that point we considered other factors which led us to choose the latter: tennis tradition and culture are at a different level in Spain and this was an aspect that drove Kosmos to choose Malaga. Other considerations are involved as well: an easier destination to reach for tennis fans. Europe is the centre of tennis in terms of countries and players, the ATP finals are played indoors in Turin. This last aspect is particularly relevant: in fact it is very simple to move to Malaga just a few days later and the environment is similar. Besides, Malaga is a city which is growing very fast and sees Davis Cup as an opportunity to gain visibility and to pair with its tourism.

UBITENNIS: The first edition of Davis Cup with the new format was played at the Caja Magica in Madrid, where the Mutua Madrid Open usually takes place. One of the advantages of the facilities is the possibility to use the three indoor courts simultaneously. Has the idea of playing simultaneous matches been put aside? Playing more than one match at the same time could allow them to go back to the 5-set format like in the old Davis Cup. 

Albert Costa: I know very well the format of the former Davis Cup, but we have ruled out going back to five set matches. We haven’t taken into consideration the option of playing simultaneously.

UBITENNIS: But with the current three match format, the double counts very much, much more than before; amazing runs like those of Djokovic or Murray, who a few years ago carried their teams on their shoulders and led them to victory, now would no longer be possible.

Albert Costa: It’s true. With the new format, having a great number one isn’t enough. You need a balanced team with a good doubles. But in this way the format makes competition tighter and more open and potentially there is a great number of teams that can win the trophy. This makes it all more exciting. For instance Serbia, in spite of having Djokovic, who has dominated tennis over the last years, hasn’t yet succeeded in winning the Davis Cup with the new format.

UBITENNIS: Summing up, the 3-match format, two singles and one doubles, isn’t going to change.

Albert Costa: Yes, I confirm this is the direction we are taking: 3 matches in one day.

UBITENNIS: Speaking about the calendar, which are your expectations in terms of public, now that tennis fans have got two months to make arrangements for going to watch their team? Last year it was very complicated since the teams qualified for the quarter finals were known only one week before they actually played.

Albert Costa: Now it’s much easier. We are going to work with travel agencies in order to set up interesting packages. We are also going to work with the national federations in this direction. We are aware that environment and support are the distinguishing traits that make Davis Cup so special. Our target for 2022 is to have at least 1000 supporters for each team cheering their players from the stands. The environment is definitely one of the key factors to success. This means that we want at least 8000 supporters coming from the different countries for the final eight. If Spain were to reach this stage, the number would be even higher. Then we have to add the neutral public that simply comes in to enjoy tennis. Our idea is to create an experience which combines Davis Cup with the possibility to have a trip to the Mediterranean and enjoy the city.

UBITENNIS: The old format was no longer viable. For many players winning Davis Cup once in their career was enough, whereas Majors are never enough. How do you think you can succeed in attracting the best players to always play Davis Cup?

Albert Costa: when I used to play from 1995 to 2005, I remember that the players were already asking to change the format. It was impossible to dedicate four weeks to the Davis Cup, which often involved moving to different surfaces from the Tour schedule. With the new format the workload is different. The players of a team that reaches the final stage have to invest three weeks. In terms of surfaces and event preparation it’s all much simpler: the final stage of Davis Cup is played indoors, just like the rest of the indoor season. As the matches are played best of three sets the players are much less impacted in terms of physical engagement, which is an excellent thing considering the increasing amount of injuries we’ve seen recently. It’s true that in the past many players were content with contributing to winning one Davis Cup only. We aim at providing a comfortable scheduling so that players will be eager to participate every year.

UBITENNIS: Wouldn’t the event be made more legendary if at least in the final the matches were played best of five sets?

Albert Costa: I understand the historical point of view, but also the finals of the ATP Masters 1000 and of the ATP Finals were played best of five sets and now things have changed. Especially with the stress, both physical and mental, which modern tennis brings in. Players are already pushing their limits. It’s already three matches, which means at least six hours of competition. It’s enough both for the public and for the players. I believe that the value of a Davis Cup victory cannot be measured on the basis of the physical toll paid by players. It’s the overall value of the team that ought to be rewarded, which is also the reason why it is fair that the most well-balanced teams, with a strong number 1, a good number 2 and a good doubles, are the most likely to win.

UBITENNIS: Under a communication profile the claim that has been delivered since 2019 is that it’s a World Cup of Tennis. This theme has already been broadly discussed, but I’d still like to hear your opinion as a former player.

Albert Costa: Before the format we used to play with, home and away ties, Davis Cup was like America’s Cup, where the winner of the previous edition waited for the challenger selection series. Changes are in the order of things. I believe that going towards a World Cup type of format, with a group stage and a knockout stage is an excellent solution.   

UBITENNIS: A last question: until 2023 everything is scheduled, in terms of format and location. For 2024 could there be an agreement with ATP Cup?

Albert Costa: We are working at it. Having Davis Cup at the end of November and ATP Cup at the beginning of January doesn’t make much sense. Kosmos and the other parties involved have to get into talks. We’re trying. Let’s see what comes out of it.

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REPORT: Valencia To Host Group Stage Of Davis Cup Finals As Part Of Five-Year Deal

It is understood that negotiations are at an advanced stage and an announcement could be made very soon.

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The Spanish city of Valencia has been chosen as the fourth and final host of the group stages of the Davis Cup Finals, according to two separate media sources.

 

Regional newspaper Las Provincias has reported that negotiations have been ongoing between officials in the region and Kosmos, the investment company who oversees the running of the tournament. It has been reported that talks between the two are at an ‘advance’ stage with it only being a matter of time before a deal is finalized.

An announcement is expected to be made as early as this week that Valencia has signed a five-year deal to host the Davis Cup. However, the venue of where the event will be hosted is still to be confirmed. One of the options is the bullring known as the Plaza de Toros de Valencia which has staged numerous Davis Cup ties in the past. However, another venue may seem more suitable considering the time of year and the fact four teams are taking part.

Valencia’s rumoured appointment fills in the gap left by Malaga who have been named host of the knockout finals in November after initially being awarded the chance to hold one of the four group stages along with Glasglow, Bologna and Hamburg. Malaga will also host the finale in 2023 as well. Making it the fourth time in a row the finale of the event has been held in Spain.

News outlet LevanteEMV has also confirmed Valencia’s intention to host the team event and say officials have already expressed a desire to one day host the knock-out stages in November. Although there is no guarantee that will happen.

The development comes shortly after France pulled out of the bidding process due to what they described as ‘onerous’ financial and operational conditions which none of their potential organizers was willing to accept. France was initially excluded from the hosting process and filed a case to the Court of Arbitration in March for Sport (CAS) saying the decision was unfair. However, a month later they were allowed to take part. It is unclear as to why they were initially excluded.

Davis Cup officials are yet to publicly comment on Valencia’s appointment but it is expected that they will do so very soon. In their latest communication, organizers said they plan to announce the fourth host of the group stages, which is said to be Valencia, before the draw takes place on April 26th.

The group stages of the 2022 Davis Cup Finals will take place from 14-18 September. Each group will consist of four teams with ties being a best-of-three rubbers taking place on the same day. The top two teams from each group will then progress to the knockout stages which will take place between November 23-27.

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