The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has today (Wednesday) announced details of an expanded format for the regional group stages of its Davis Cup men’s team tournament, with the new structure set to provide increased opportunities for competing nations.
From 2020, the Davis Cup Group I and Group II competitions will be played on a worldwide basis.
The new format will result in the creation of a Davis Cup World Group I and World Group II, which will sit immediately below the top-tier Finals stage of the tournament and replace the regional Group I and Group II ties, which are currently being played in the Americas, Asia/Oceania and Europe/Africa.
The ITF will also be introducing an additional play-off round for both World Group I and World Group II that will be held alongside the Davis Cup Qualifiers in March 2020.
The ITF has announced the changes following extensive consultation with national associations and it is hoped the new structure will ensure more nations can compete in the Davis Cup on a worldwide basis, as well as create more opportunities for home-and-away ties.
The competition will operate an automatic promotion and relegation system at all levels from next year, which the ITF said will present a “clear progression” for teams. Additionally, the Davis Cup Nations Ranking will no longer be used to determine which group a nation is playing in.
ITF president David Haggerty said: “We are committed to working with our member nations to ensure that the format of the competition, at all levels, maximises its potential for success and growth. This expanded format elevates these levels to reflect the evolution of this global competition.”
The line-up for the 2020 Davis Cup Qualifiers, World Group I play-offs and World Group II play-offs will be finalised after next week’s regional Group I and Group II ties. Group III and Group IV will continue to be played as week-long regional events on a round-robin basis.
The ITF introduced a change in format for the Davis Cup for the ongoing 2019 competition, with the Finals now being played as a week-long, 18-team event, which will be held in Madrid for its first two editions. The new tournament, which will switch from a best-of-five format to best-of-three, is being organised and promoted by Kosmos Tennis, in partnership with the ITF.
French commercial broadcaster TF1 recently acquired rights to the new Davis Cup Finals and the new best-of-three format was a factor in striking the deal, as it believes it will prove more attractive for viewers.