EXCLUSIVE: Chief Of Kosmos Tennis Addresses Davis Cup Concerns, Staging Event Outside Of Europe - UBITENNIS
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Davis Cup

EXCLUSIVE: Chief Of Kosmos Tennis Addresses Davis Cup Concerns, Staging Event Outside Of Europe

The managing director of Kosmos Tennis speaks exclusively to Ubitennis about the historic team competition which is currently taking place across four European cities. Enric Rojas isn’t somebody to sugarcoat things and confirmed that some aspects of the event will be ‘reviewed’ in the coming weeks.

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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)

Since its birth in 1900, the Davis Cup has gone through its fair share of changes but nothing as extraordinary as what happened four years ago. 

 

At the International Tennis Federation’s annual AGM meeting a motion was passed which saw the competition remodelled into an 18-team event held at the end of the season. The move divided tennis with critics furious at the decision to remove the tradition of home and away ties. In the coming years, further adjustments have been made to the event with this year’s competition featuring four group ties held in different cities in September with eight qualifying for the finals in November. 

The revamp was only made possible following a huge 25-year investment from Kosmos which was valued at $3bn (£2.15bn). Kosmos is a Spanish-based investment firm founded by Barcelona FC footballer Gerald Pique. The company has their own specific branch designated for tennis which has been led by CEO Enric Rojas since 2020 who had previously worked for IMG. It is fair to say that Rojas has his work cut out as he continues to deal with critics of his organization to this present day. 

Over the past week, some players and fans have criticized the Davis Cup concerning a couple of issues. Ubitennis raised these concerns during a call with Rojas who also outlined Kosmos’ current position and their future plans. 

UBITENNIS: The Davis Cup has undergone many changes in its history. This year four cities are hosting the group stages and then the final is in Malaga. Is this the final format or do you foresee any additional changes being made to the schedule of the event?

ROJAS: We have done this evolution (on making adjustments to the Davis Cup formats) until this year with four groups of four in September and then the finals in Malaga. This format of having the qualifiers in week five, group stages in week 37 and the finals in week 47 are going to stay.

We don’t expect any changes going forward, it’s a format that is working. We need to improve a few things as you can imagine. But it’s a format that is going to stay.

UBITENNIS: You mentioned improvements, one thing that has raised concerns is the late-night finishes. For example, Great Britain’s tie with the USA didn’t end until 0100 BST. Do you think the ties should begin at midday to make it fairer?

ROJAS: That’s a good question. Although this format is staying, we still need to improve a few things and this is one element that we will put on the table at the end of the group stage for us to review together with the ITF. We thought with these timings that these slots would be great. Especially in central Europe, and western Europe.

We thought starting around this time when people were starting to finish work would be better but this has had an effect on the match times. We review this and are open to making changes if we feel that it is better to start earlier.

UBITENNIS: Another thing people have been speaking about is the prices of tickets. In Germany, one player was quoted in their press conference as saying that he felt it was ‘totally understandable that a lot of fans won’t come (to the Davis Cup) because it is brutally expensive.’ When a player is saying these things, how do you address this?

ROJAS: There are federations, even private promoters, involved in the organization of the group stages. We (Kosmos) are also the promoter on behalf of the ITF and with our investments, we need to keep everybody happy and also have a bit of return on our investment because in the end there is also a private element to those investments.

It’s true that the attendance was not as great as we were looking for. This is another thing we are going to review. We are going to speak with the promoters there, as well as the German federation, to see what we have done wrong and what we can do differently. One of the aims is the pricing because we thought we did our benchmarking for thinking what is the best price for having full attendance. Not having a full attendance, which is our main goal, is something that we need to review again.

UBITENNIS: You have spoken a lot about reviewing certain aspects of the competition. What exactly is the review process?

ROJAS: It’s a combination of three parties – ITF, Kosmos and the host cities. We have worked really hard together. Sometimes we have different views on the organisation and operations, as well as the pricing and everything. But we will sit down together at the end of the Davis Cup and see what we can do.

UBITENNIS: One of Kosmos’ aims is to market the Davis Cup to the world. So when do you think ties will start to be held outside of Europe?

ROJAS: We have another year in Malaga, we have many years with different promoters and federations for the group stages in Europe. It all depends on who will be classified (qualified) for the next group stages.

It could happen that one of our promoters for the next five years is not from a European federation and their (national) team has not qualified. We will need to find other places if that happens if we can not give them a wildcard etc.

So it can happen at any time (moving ties outside of Europe). During the next five years, we could go to another continent. The beauty of this change we did last year is that playing in week 37 after the US Open, as well as going into the Asian swing, opens the door for us to be everywhere.

With the Davis Cup Finals, we still have another year in Malaga. With this calendar we agreed with the ITF and ATP, we have the freedom to go anywhere. You can stay in the Americas after the US Open or you can go back to Europe or even somewhere in Asia. This is another reason why we changed the format to have this door open.

UBITENNIS: There have been reports about staging events in The Middle East in the past. Is that still on the cards?

ROJAS: It’s quite public that we were having conversations to host the finals in the Middle East. It’s an option as well. We are not having any active conversations now, we are waiting for the end of this year. At the finals, we are inviting a lot of potential cities, countries, promoters and governments to come to discuss what is next from 2023 onwards.

The calendar now allows us to go everywhere. It’s true that the ATP Finals will happen in Europe for a few years and it is always better to stay as close as possible to the ATP Finals. But the Middle East is always an option. The process is very open right now and finding the next host cities for the finals will start next year.

If one of the host cities doesn’t qualify, then we will need to find a replacement for the group stages, as well.

UBITENNIS: Kosmos is focused on the Davis Cup but do you have any ambitions to expand elsewhere in tennis?

ROJAS: Currently, we organize the Davis Cup and we also have a management company which manages a few players. At the moment we are going to keep doing these two businesses. We expect to grow quite a lot if possible in the management business. We have our eyes open for opportunities but at the moment we are going to stay as we are. But as a group Kosmos always have their eyes open to see opportunities. In the last few months, we have not been discussing or starting any opportunities but you never know.

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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