Starting in 2009, ATP players will receive ranking points for competing in Davis Cup, a dicey proposition since generally only two singles players from each country get the opportunity to compete for singles points during each tie, leaving lower-ranked players and practice partners out of the points mix.
At the same time, ATP and ITF officials are hoping that ranking points will attract more top players to compete in the prestigious international event. Over the years with the increased demands of the tour, many top players such as world No. 1 Roger Federer, former No. 1 Carlos Moya, Tim Henman before he retired, etc., have taken a pass on the competition to concentrate on their rankings.
“This is a win/win situation for Davis Cup by BNP Paribas and the ATP,” said ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti. “The calendar is stabilized for the upcoming years [until 2013] in the model that the top players requested and, for the first time in history, Davis Cup players will receive well-deserved ranking points for their performance in the competition.”
Ranking points will be awarded for singles and doubles rubbers played only in the elite World Group and World Group Play-off Round, leaving lower-ranked countries and players out of the mix, further distancing them from the top players. But the ATP says it will be worth it to lift Davis Cup, which is not even their event, owned by the ITF.
“We are delighted to award South African Airways ranking points for Davis Cup starting in 2009,” said Etienne de Villiers, ATP’s Executive Chairman. “The new ATP tour structure for 2009 is about providing fans, broadcasters and sponsors with the very best circuit possible. Like the tour, Davis Cup is a key component to the growth and future of tennis. We look forward to an exciting and memorable season to come.”
Davis Cup will be awarded ranking points under the following structure: a) Accumulated points over the preceding 52-week period for the 4 rounds of Davis Cup and the play-off round will count as one result. For 2009 onwards, this will be one of the tournaments in the new premium tier “500” category, the best of which count towards a player’s ranking; b) Points will not be awarded for dead rubbers; c) Players who don’t play a round of matches will be awarded points based on the immediately preceding round (i.e. a player who doesn’t play the first round but plays the second round will earn 40 points for each singles match won in that second round).
Again, a dicey proposition, creating another event like the Masters Cup where only the top players receive points, further separating them from the middle pack. At the same time the Davis Cup has been in a downward slide, and organizers needed to take action before it became completely irrelevant like the women’s Fed Cup, where top players blowing off the competition (see: Williams sisters skipping the U.S.’s upcoming semifinal) has become the norm.
Before waiting a year or two to see how this unfolds, pending props to de Villiers and Ricci Bitti for proactively addressing the slumping Davis Cup, which should be held up as tennis’, if not one of sports’ greatest competitions.
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