Presently, 16 males’s groups play in Davis Cup’s prime division, generally known as the World Group, in a home-and-away format over 4 rounds interspersed all through the season, and all stay matches are finest of 5 units.
Some former Davis Cup champions, like Yevgeny Kafelnikov of Russia, contemplate the proposal a travesty.
“Horrible,” Kafelnikov stated in an interview Monday. “The worth and spirit of the entire crew competitors is gone.”
However like many influential figures within the recreation, I.T.F. President David Haggerty is satisfied that massive strikes are essential to hold the occasion related. Haggerty stated the proposal had acquired unanimous assist from the I.T.F.’s board of administrators.
Although mild-mannered in individual, Haggerty is unafraid to make daring strikes (if this one fails, his bid for re-election in 2019 definitely will endure, too). A former tennis business govt and a former president of the USA Tennis Affiliation, Haggerty was amongst those that pushed efficiently for a roof over Arthur Ashe Stadium on the U.S. Open and for the united statesT.A.’s huge new complicated at Lake Nona in Orlando, Fla.
“Definitely it is a massive determination for the I.T.F.,” Haggerty stated by phone from London on Monday. “We all know the setting has modified in tennis over the previous few years. Gamers are taking part in later of their careers. It’s a really bodily sport, so I believe many elements had been taken under consideration.
“On the identical time, in the event you return 50 years in the past, in Bournemouth that they had the primary Open tennis occasion. There needed to have been quite a lot of tennis leaders sitting round saying, ‘Jeez, tennis is O.Ok., do we actually have to make this transformation? What’s it going to do to us? Is it good or dangerous?’ You by no means know, in order that power of conviction, that they had that on the time. They took a danger, however look how tennis has modified. Maybe sooner or later, we are going to look again on this and say the I.T.F. board took such a danger.”
Haggerty additionally needs a extra strong monetary base for the I.T.F., which has develop into the weakest pillar among the many sport’s bloated community of governing our bodies.
The cash may certainly be transformative: Haggerty stated the partnership with Kosmos, the funding agency headed by Piqué and backed by the 52-year-old Japanese billionaire Hiroshi Mikitani, would supply greater than $20 million in prize cash for the gamers within the remaining part every year.
If the $three billion determine is right, it might additionally present the I.T.F., whose important income is Davis Cup, with an unheard-of inflow of money to fund its personal actions, which embrace growing the sport worldwide and working beginner and lower-level skilled circuits. Haggerty additionally stated that nationwide federations would profit.
If the overhaul is accepted, solely the seasons forward will decide who was right of their evaluation: the Kafelnikovs or the Haggertys. However one can perceive the lure and the timing. Regardless of pockets of ardour, and a compelling historical past, Davis Cup is dropping traction globally.
There have been definitely much less excessive potential options: A partnership with the ATP Tour; shifting the Davis Cup dates away from such proximity to Grand Slam tournaments; or switching to a biennial format which may have lured the largest stars.
However after being thwarted final 12 months in an try and tweak the format with smaller modifications, like utilizing a neutral-site remaining and best-of-three-set singles matches, Haggerty doubled down and pushed as a substitute for extra radical change.
No less than initially, the occasion would most certainly be held in Asia, Haggerty stated, and due to the variety of courts required, it might most certainly be staged outside.
“The subsequent step for my part to make this occasion all it might be could be to incorporate the Fed Cup on this tennis extravaganza,” Courier stated, referring to the I.T.F’s girls’s crew competitors. “That ought to be the last word purpose.”
For now, the I.T.F. is targeted on increasing Fed Cup’s prime division from eight to 16 groups, though Haggerty expressed assist for the same, single-site Fed Cup competitors sooner or later.
Within the Davis Cup proposal, the plan is for the 18 nationwide groups to be divided into six teams of three for round-robin play over three days. Every crew would have 4 gamers, and every encounter would come with two singles matches and one doubles match. Eight groups would advance to the quarterfinals (the six group winners plus the 2 finest second-place groups) and could be assured a spot within the following 12 months’s remaining part.
Through the week, the strongest eight of the 10 eradicated groups would then play for a spot within the following 12 months’s competitors towards the eight groups who’ve come by way of home-and-away qualifying in the course of the Davis Cup’s conventional dates earlier within the season. The semifinals could be performed on Saturday, and the ultimate on Sunday.
“The great factor is that by the top of the week, you’ll know the 16 groups taking part in in subsequent 12 months’s occasion,” Haggerty stated.
He stated the 17th and 18th groups could be chosen by the I.T.F. and Kosmos “primarily based on standards to be decided.”
Such an overhaul would have been unthinkable in Davis Cup’s heyday, when its status was on par with the 4 Grand Slam tournaments within the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s. However these moments are lengthy gone, even when Davis Cup continues to generate massive crowds and enthusiasm in a number of international locations, together with France, which gained the title for the 10th time final 12 months.
However many main gamers and tennis officers have been clamoring for a change in format for many years. On this golden age within the males’s recreation, the largest stars — together with Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic — have all been a part of profitable Davis Cup groups however have not often participated similtaneously each other and have confronted one another too not often within the occasion.
Additionally, rival national-team occasions with shorter codecs have surfaced, together with the Laver Cup, which was started successfully last year by Roger Federer’s administration firm, pitting a European Staff towards an Worldwide Staff.
However the greatest menace was the ATP’s current curiosity in relaunching the single-week World Staff Cup, which may have additional lowered prime gamers’ curiosity in committing to Davis Cup. Piqué’s group, with assist from Djokovic, first negotiated with the ATP and its govt chairman Chris Kermode about creating such an occasion earlier than turning to the I.T.F. in late November.
The consequence was Monday’s announcement. The Davis Cup — and tennis — could by no means be the identical.