Proposals to reform Davis Cup pique strong reactions
ITF proposal in partnership with Barcelona defender Gerard Pique’s investment group
Adrian Mannarino (right) with France’s team captain Yannick Noah after winning his singles tennis match in Davis Cup. Photograph: Jean-Pierre Clatot/AFP/Getty Images
Proposals to radically change the Davis Cup have been met with strong and mixed opinions from the tennis world.
The International Tennis Federation, which runs the competition, announced out of the blue on Monday that its board had unanimously endorsed a plan to turn the top level of the event into a week-long World Cup of Tennis Finals held at the end of each season, starting in 2019.
The proposal, which requires two-thirds majority backing at the ITF’s agm in August, is in partnership with Barcelona defender Gerard Pique’s investment group Kosmos, who have vowed to plough in $3 billion(€2.45 billion) over 25 years.
A lack of commitment to Davis Cup from the leading players has forced the ITF’s hand and, after less ambitious plans were rejected at last year’s agm, the governing body has taken a radical approach.
Rafael Nadal has been one of the most vocal critics of the current format, and he gave support to fellow Spaniard Pique’s vision.
The world number two told German agency DPA: “Obviously, when something does not work perfectly, you have to look for new solutions. This is a good initiative that can work.”
The reaction from America was also positive, with former world number one Andy Roddick writing on Twitter: “My understanding is that there’s still a bit of a process as far as getting votes to confirm later this year ... I think it’s necessary and inevitable for survival of D Cup. Good news!”
Great Britain captain Leon Smith said he would keep an open mind but the plan has been met with dismay by many Europeans. Given the scale of the event, it would almost certainly have to be played outdoors, which would rule out a European host in November.
Yannick Noah, who captained France to the title last year, wrote in French on Twitter: “The end of the Davis Cup. What sadness. They have sold the soul of a historic competition. Sorry mister Davis.”
Yevgeny Kafelnikov, who won the title with Russia in 2002, wrote: “Goodbye DavisCup! Original spirit of competition is gone.”
Kafelnikov then replied to Noah: “And we gonna let this happend my friend?? Surely NOT .We have both dedicated ourself for this not to happend.”
The ITF failed to get approval from its members last year for a change from best-of-five-sets matches in singles to best-of-three-sets so there must be considerable doubt that the proposal will be ratified.
Andre Stein, the president of the Royal Belgian Tennis Federation, who have twice been finalists in the past three years, said on sporza.be: “We are absolutely against and will vote against. This formula is exactly what we do not want, because Belgium will never have the means to organise such a competition, so our fans and our partners would see the already rare opportunities to see the best Belgian players in action disappear.”
Lucas Pouille, who won the decisive rubber for France in last year’s final against Belgium, told reporters at the Dubai Championships: “I think it’s a death sentence of the Davis Cup. When you’re not playing at home, or in the country against who you’re playing, then it’s not Davis Cup.”
The proposals also drew criticism for not including Fed Cup, the equivalent women’s competition, which it has long been accepted needs reform.
Great Britain captain Anne Keothavong tweeted: “What about Fed Cup? Will we ever see anything change?”