Led by European soccer player Gerard Pique, a company named Kosmos offered $3 billion over 25 years to the Davis Cup and its competing nations to overhaul the current format, and today in Orlando they took the money and ran!
So what’s in store?
Starting next year, the Davis Cup will effectively now be played over a single week at the end of the year, following the ATP Finals.
This new tournament will consist of 18 nations. Twelve will come from an early February week of traditional home/away 4-match ties (will be best-of-3). Two will be wildcard nations and the other four will be the semifinalists from the previous year (for next year Croatia, France, USA and Spain are in!).
The format will be a round-robin of six groups with three teams. Unlike the qualifying, finals week will be just two singles and one doubles, also best-of-3 sets. The six group winners plus two more nations will go through to a QF/SF/F knockout round.
So the winning nation will play five ties.
And this event will be held at a neutral-ish site each year with the first one either in Lille, France or Madrid, Spain.
Of course a change this big to an event that been in place for 118 years will cause a lot of uproar, and it has. Some players have already come out against it in tweets and we’ll get a lot more feedback once the top guys hit the press in Cincinnati when the rain allows matches to be completed.
But Davis Cup did need a change. It was getting old and rusty and losing its relevance by the year. And as with most changes, we don’t like them at first but then we see the light. Will this be any different? I don’t know.
First, I like the idea of the 1-week event. I like the best-of-3 format and the qualifying process. Those are good. And I’m OK with the neutral site which will help with player travel, though I’ll miss the crazy crowds we get (I guess we’ll still see those during the qualifying?).
What I don’t like is the round-robin aspect which is often confusing, but I guess it works for the soccer World Cup. And the zonal ties will also be a round-robin format. Ugh.
The February ties will be the traditional best-of-5 tie format, so that’s good.
But what I really don’t like is having guys from 18 nations – and I assume many top men – playing so late in the season. And like I said, they could play as many as five singles matches and then also doubles, and that’s a lot.
We’ve heard over and over how the season is too long, and what does tennis do? Make it longer with this event. So instead of a half-dozen or so guys playing so late in the season in a Davis Cup final tie, we’ll have 40-50! And then we ask these same players to come back a month later for a Hopman Cup and a new ATP World Team Cup which begins in 2020! Oh yeah, there’s also a Laver Cup, and Olympics and who knows what other money-grabbing “Cups” are being discussed.
So to me, that’s too much. And I have to wonder how many guys will play this event or will play this event but say no to say one of the regular tournaments (Paris Masters will be in trouble). Obviously the guys will get paid a decent amount from their Federations to participate, and they’ll have to weigh that money vs actual ATP tournament prize money. And my guess is something will have to give – either players cut down on their ATP schedule to play this year-end tournament or they just don’t bother with it at all.
Or, maybe down the road the ITF moves the finals to earlier in the year, which I think would be better than at the end when guys are rundown.
But again, $3,000,000,000 is an offer you cannot refuse. And today, the Davis Cup took the money with arms wide open behind a 71% vote. Let’s hope it turns out to be as good for the game as it is for the bank account.
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