Tennis stake holders line up return of World Team Cup

Men’s tennis event the World Team Cup could return in 2019 following high-level talks between stake holders in the sport, according to Reuters.

The news agency, citing two sources familiar with the discussions in New York, said the event could be held over 10 days at the start of each year, leading into the Australian Open, the opening grand slam of the season.

Stake holders at the meetings are said to have included the four grand slam tournaments, the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and the International Tennis Federation (ITF). Reuters said the event would include a maximum 24 nations of up to five players per team, with as many as 1,000 ATP Tour ranking points on offer to players who win all their matches.

The competition could be held in multiple cities, most likely in Australia and the Asia-Pacific region, and Tennis Australia, organiser of the Australian Open, is backing the plans. “The protection and growth of the Australian Open and Australian Open Series is always a major priority for us,” it said in a statement.

“We also have an ongoing determination to improve the pay and conditions of the international playing group. We will always listen to any proposal that meets both of those objectives.”

The original World Team Cup launched in 1975 and was held in Dusseldorf, Germany from 1978 to 2012. In a statement, the ATP said: “In recent years, the ATP has regularly reviewed any potential opportunities to bring this event back into the calendar, should it make sense in the schedule, and this continues to be the case.”

Men’s tennis stars such as Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic are said to be behind the concept, which comes as the ITF continues with efforts to reform its Davis Cup and Fed Cup team events.

ITF president David Haggerty last month spoke of his disappointment after member nations refused to support the full package of reforms proposed for the national team competitions. ITF members voted to approve a series of changes in relation to the two tournaments at the governing body’s annual general meeting in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

However, the members did not approve the proposal for Davis Cup singles matches to be played as best-of-three tiebreak sets, rather than best-of-five sets. The motion received 63.54 per cent of the vote, falling short of the required two-thirds majority.

In July, the ATP postponed the proposed introduction of its new World Cup of Tennis to allow for further consultation with stakeholders. The ITF board had approved the launch of the World Cup of Tennis finals in November 2018 as part of a series of reforms to the Davis Cup and Fed Cup, pending approval at the governing body’s annual general meeting in Vietnam on August 4.

The ITF announced in June that Geneva had been selected by the governing body’s board as the ‘preferred bid’ to host the first three editions of the new annual end-of-season event, featuring the conclusion of the Davis Cup and Fed Cup, from 2018 to 2020.

However, following consultations with stakeholders, the ITF said that it would defer putting the launch of the World Cup of Tennis forward for approval until the 2018 AGM “to allow more time to reach alignment.”