Davis Cup shake-up as ITF announces World Cup of Tennis plan

Spain's players, coaches and staff celebrate on the court after winning their first round match against Great Britain. (Reuters)

A massive shake-up of the Davis Cup competition will see the formation of an 18-nation World Cup of Tennis Finals, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) said on Monday.

The event played in one location over seven days in November could start next year, pending approval by the ITF Board.

In a statement outlining a 25-year, $3 billion partnership with investment group Kosmos, whose founder and president is Barcelona and Spain soccer player Gerard Pique, ITF President David Haggerty said it would be a game-changer for tennis.

“Our vision is to create a major season-ending finale that will be a festival of tennis and entertainment, featuring the world’s greatest players representing their nations to decide the Davis Cup champions,” he said.

The new event represents a huge revamp for the Davis Cup which has been in existence since 1900 but has suffered in recent years with top players not turning out for their nations.

World number one Roger Federer has not played for Switzerland since 2015 while Rafael Nadal has only played one doubles rubber for Spain in the past two years.

In the current format employed since 1981, 16 World Group nations take part in a knockout competition over three weekends in February, July and September before the final in November.

Ties are hosted by one or other of the competing nations, producing a partisan atmosphere which has become a popular feature of the Davis Cup.

Each tie is best-of-five-matches, four singles and one doubles.

The investment from Kosmos will include significant increases in prize money for players and ITF member nations, according to the sport’s London-based governing body.

Haggerty said a prize pool of $20 million would be up for grabs for the 18 qualifying nations.

“This is a complete game-changer for the ITF and for tennis,” he said.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:56 - GMT 06:56