ATP returns World Team Cup to tennis calendar

The Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) has teamed up with Tennis Australia to confirm the return of the World Team Cup to the men’s calendar, potentially setting up a clash with the International Tennis Federation’s (ITF) plans to overhaul the Davis Cup.

Following the conclusion of its board meetings in London, the ATP yesterday (Sunday) announced the approval of the World Team Cup, set to take place at the start of the World Tour season from 2020, in partnership with Tennis Australia.

The agreement is subject to the finalisation of a contract with Tennis Australia. It will see the World Team Cup return to the calendar for the first time since taking place in the German city of Dusseldorf from 1978 to 2012. The tournament will feature 24 teams and offer $15m (€12.8m) in player prize money in 2020, as well as ATP rankings points.

Chris Kermode (pictured), ATP executive chairman and president, said: “We’re delighted to have reached this outcome which will change the landscape of the ATP World Tour. This event will enable us to kick off our season with a major team event, with minimal impact on existing player schedules at the start of the year.

“We believe this outcome will deliver long-term sustainability not only financially but also from a player health perspective, which is critical.  This event has huge potential and we now look forward to working together with Tennis Australia in bringing our vision to fruition.”

Craig Tiley, Tennis Australia chief executive, added: “This is an exciting new era in men’s tennis. Upon finalising the contract with the ATP we are looking forward to unveiling a stunning new global event in Australia to launch the season.

“The world’s top players will continue to start their year in Australia in a format that we believe will deeply engage the fans across Australia and throughout the world. It will be a great result to be able to stage the ATP World Team Cup within the current calendar while significantly improving player prize money.”

The ATP has long stated it was pressing on with plans for its own team competition, despite the ITF’s plans to revamp the Davis Cup. In February, the ITF hailed a major $3bn partnership with investment group Kosmos that is set to introduce a new annual season-ending national team tournament and realise long-held plans to overhaul the Davis Cup.

The 25-year contract with Kosmos, a European-based holding company focused on building a global portfolio of media and sports assets, will seek to transform the historic Davis Cup and generate substantial revenues for global tennis development.

The ITF Board of Directors unanimously endorsed a proposal to create a major new annual season-ending World Cup of Tennis Finals that will crown the Davis Cup champions. Featuring 18 nations and played over one week in a single location in November, the event will be staged by Kosmos in partnership with the ITF.

The plans will be submitted to the ITF Annual General Meeting, to be held in August in Orlando, Florida, with a two-thirds majority required for final approval.

Responding to the ATP’s announcement, the ITF said: “News that the ATP Board has decided to proceed with the World Team Cup does not change the commitment of the ITF to proceed with a new Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Finals event in 2019. We do feel that this was an opportunity missed by the ATP to work together with the ITF in a beneficial and positive way for the whole of tennis.”