David Haggerty, the International Tennis Federation president, has hailed the revamped Davis Cup, but admits that some scheduling changes need to be made next year.
The inaugural staging of the redesigned men’s national team tennis tournament took place last month, with Spain defeating Canada in the final at La Caja Mágica in Madrid.
The 18-team tournament was a mixed success. Approximately 130,000 fans attended matches in the week-long competition, but attendances during some sessions earlier in the tournament were sparse.
Elsewhere, start times for the quarterfinal matches brought forward by 30 minutes in an attempt to curtail the late finishes that had plagued the tournament, culminating in a 4am finish for the USA’s doubles match against Italy. Meanwhile, the tournament was barely broadcast in the United States, with only USA matches and the final being aired on cable network FS2.
Nonetheless, the ITF and Davis Cup commercial partners Kosmos, which is run by FC Barcelona defender Gerard Pique, believe there is huge grounds for optimism going forward.
“The Davis Cup had a great start, we thought it was very successful,” Haggerty told SportBusiness at the Regional SportAccord Pan America Convention in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “We said we wanted to make changes: we wanted the best players to be there, they were; we wanted this to be followed not just by two nations in the final but the world, we had that from a media perspective. The fans were there, we had over 130,000 fans and some great atmospheres.
“There were some things based on scheduling that that we can learn from for next year and that is where our focus will be. Do we add a fourth court to be able to spread the matches out? Do we add a couple of days [to the schedule]? Do we start the days earlier as we have two sessions each day?,” Haggerty said.
On the lack of broadcast access in the States, Haggerty added: “The US was an atypical market as in many of the markets it was well covered. Here it was not as easy for consumers to follow as it was a shame. That’s something we’ll work on for next year.”
With the Association of Tennis Professionals launching its own rival team tournament, the ATP Cup, in the new year, it is still hoped that Kosmos and the ITF can work with the ATP’s new leadership to create a combined event.
“There is new leadership at the ATP. I’ve had meetings with the new chairman [Andrea Gaudenzi], Gerard met with him as well. We’ll meet again after the Australian Open to have further discussions. It makes sense for us to work together but a lot of things have to happen but the good news is we’re having dialogue,” Haggerty said.