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ITF chief details Davis Cup plans, Fed Cup reform

International Tennis Federation (ITF) president David Haggerty has shed light on the proposed format of the new-look Davis Cup and has stated that the women’s Fed Cup will also undergo reform.

In February, the ITF hailed a major $3bn (€2.48bn) 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 has 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. Haggerty (pictured) has now told UK newspaper The Telegraph that the intended format of the revised Davis Cup will retain some form of home and away competition.

He said: “We are looking at a round of 24 home-and-away ties in February, in the week after the Australian Open, producing 12 winners. They would then go on to the November tournament, along with the four semi-finalists from the previous year, and two invited teams.

“It’s important for the national federations to be able to stage ties. It’s a way of promoting the sport and of connecting with fans.”

At the weekend, Spanish Tennis Federation (RFET) president Miguel Diaz said talks have been held with Spain and FC Barcelona football star Gerard Pique’s Kosmos group about staging the finale of a revamped Davis Cup in Madrid or France next year.

Asia or the Middle East had originally been suggested for the events, but Haggerty said: “It would be easier for the players to stay in Europe, with the way the end of the season is set up. Although things might change if the ATP World Tour Finals were to move away from London after 2020.”

Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) executive chairman Chris Kermode has said the men’s tour is still focused on introducing a team event and on Tuesday told UK broadcaster the BBC that staging two similar tournaments would be unfeasible.

Kermode said: “It doesn't make any sense to have two team events. Personally, I think that would be insane. Let's just hope that doesn't happen. We have had very, very good talks. What we are trying to do is understand that tennis is a multi-faceted business. Davis Cup is a sports entity that has been around for hundreds of years and we value it.

“Equally the World Team Cup was an event we had for 35 years. It's been off the shelf for a while, but could we bring that back? I think there's clearly a demand for a huge team event that anyone can buy into.”

A perceived focus on the Davis Cup has led to question marks over what will happen to the Fed Cup. However, Haggerty said that broad support exists for reforms to the women’s event that from next year will see the two World Groups combined into a single 16-team group, with the winner being decided at a Final Four event staged by one of the semi-finalists.

“We’re all for equality,” Haggerty added. “The Davis Cup reform is a very big project. We’re looking to get it set up from next year and then we will try to take the Fed Cup in the same direction.”