Piqué touts ‘super event’ amid Davis Cup, ATP Cup duel

Spain celebrate with the trophy following victory in the 2019 Davis Cup Final against Canada (by Alex Pantling/Getty Images).

Gerard Piqué, founder and chairman of Kosmos, has floated the prospect of a “super event” in association with the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), reflecting on the first edition of the new-look Davis Cup Finals by stating that there is a “lot of different options” for the hosting rights from 2021 onwards.

The inaugural staging of the revamped men’s national team tournament concluded yesterday (Sunday) as Spain triumphed over Canada in front of a home crowd at La Caja Mágica in Madrid. Kosmos is the International Tennis Federation’s (ITF’s) commercial partner in the reinvigoration of the historic Davis Cup, holding a 25-year contract with the sport’s world governing body.

Reflecting on the first edition of the new Davis Cup Finals, Spanish football star Piqué conceded that the looming presence of the ATP’s new ATP Cup, which is set to launch in Australia in January, represents a significant challenge to the Davis Cup. However, he expressed his confidence that Kosmos and the ITF could work with the ATP’s new leadership to create a September-based event.

Speaking at a news conference ahead of Sunday’s final, Piqué said: “In the last year, we’ve tried to sit down with the ATP. Obviously the situation with the former president wasn’t ideal trying to arrive at a deal.

“Now there will be some changes, so we are expecting we can sit down again. I think that in the future, ITF and Kosmos are really open to sit down with the ATP and try to arrive at a deal, to make a unique competition, a super event of two weeks and try to find the best position in the calendar.

“I think Novak (Djokovic) and Rafa (Nadal), No.1 and No.2 in the world right now, have expressed that they want the same. They want just one event, if possible in September for two weeks. Since day one, we expressed we want to arrive at this deal. It makes no sense to have right now two different competitions that are very similar.”

The inaugural event was not without its teething problems, with the start times for Friday’s Davis quarter-finals 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.

The USA-Italy tie – a dead rubber, as both nations had already been eliminated – did not start until gone 8pm on Thursday, after the previous match overran. Its 4:04am finish was the second-latest-ever end to a professional tennis match, behind the 4:34am conclusion of the Australian Open third-round game between Lleyton Hewitt and Marcos Baghdatis in 2008. Spain’s clash with Russia the previous night ran until 2am.

Piqué said 130,000 people attended matches in the week-long competition, but attendances were an issue earlier in the event as only 12,114 saw group matches on Monday between Croatia and Russia on Centre Court, Italy and Canada on Court 2 and Belgium and Colombia on Court 3.

In future, organisers could seek to add a fourth court at Caja Mágica or use another arena in Madrid in an effort to spread out the matches. “We have to be more creative in the future,” Piqué said. “We had the experience of the timing this year. For next year it’s something that worries us, but not too much because it’s easy to solve. So we will work on that.”

Madrid currently holds a two-year deal to stage the Finals, which Piqué said could yet be extended for a further year. Regarding the hosting rights in 2021, he added: “We have a lot of different options on the table. Madrid has already expressed interest in doing another year. We also have interest from Asia, from North America, South America. So we will decide in the coming months.”

Speaking alongside Piqué at the news conference, ITF president David Haggerty said: “The 2019 Davis Cup has been a success. It gives us a strong platform on which to build, make some tweaks and further enhance the competition.”