Tennis Australia 'extremely disappointed' with Davis Cup revamp

The Davis Cup will have a new revamped format

The Davis Cup will have a new revamped format

In light of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) deciding to overhaul the format of its Davis Cup final, the odds of a Canadian Davis Cup squad playing in the season-ending event at home has become greatly diminished, nearly to the point of impossibility.

The makeover to one of sport's most famous and oldest worldwide men's team tournaments has been a contentious issue within tennis but the ITF's plans to stage a World Cup-style tournament from 2019 received the necessary two-thirds majority from its 210 member nations.

Instead of a usual World Group with 16 teams and four round of home and away ties, the new system includes 18 teams that will fight for the crown in a single week event between November 18-24 in Madrid or Lille (both Spain and France voted for the changes).

If they are approved, from 2019 the Davis Cup will begin with one traditional home-and-away round in February before an 18-team event staged over one week at the end of November decides the winners of the competition.

In a bid to ensure the sport's top stars continue to feature, the ITF endorsed a 25-year, $3billion partnership with investment group Kosmos - chaired by Barcelona defender and World Cup victor Gerard Pique.

- "Death" of Davis Cup?

The finals will consist of six round-robin groups of three teams followed by quarter-finals, semi-finals and the final.

The deal sees the ITF enter a 25-year $3 billion (£2 billion /€2.5 billion) partnership with Kosmos, with the ambition to transform the Davis Cup and generate substantial revenues for the development of tennis.

"The LTA remains fully supportive of the ITF and its leadership and we will work together on the future of Davis Cup regardless of the outcome of the vote", LTA chief executive Scott Lloyd said.

Another backer of the idea is USA billionaire Larry Ellison, who says he will invest in a revamped Davis Cup and says his Indian Wells facility is a candidate to host the event in 2021 after plans to host it for two years in Europe.

At the same time, the new format, and the many voices that backed it, ignore one element: matches will not take place for just one week of the year as purported. Yes the Davis Cup needed some changes but this I don't believe is the right formula.

Former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash described it in a tweet as "a sad day for men's tennis", accusing organizers of "fooling themselves" if they thought top players would be attracted to compete.

However, an increasing number of top players have skipped matches in recent years to ease their schedule.

Complicating the landscape is the revived ATP World Team Cup set for January 2020 with 24 teams, prize money and rankings points to be played in Australia ahead of the Australian Open. Current world number one Rafael Nadal and former number one Novak Djokovic are among the players in support of the reforms.

He doesn't want a format change that might deny him such a thrill. You can't call this the Davis Cup. The four semifinalists from the previous edition are automatic entries, along with two wild cards.

"Reform is vital for the competition but this proposal takes away too much of what makes the Davis Cup unique and special. the ITF now has a major responsibility to ensure the great heritage and prestige of the competition is somehow retained in this new version of Davis Cup".

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