Tennis chiefs have hailed radical plans to overhaul the Davis Cup and cram a year-long competition into a single week at the end of the season as “a complete game-changer”.
The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has unanimously endorsed the proposals, which would see the winners determined in a World Cup of Tennis and could start as soon as November next year.
The shake-up includes increased prize money funded by a $3bn deal with Kosmos, an investment group fronted by Barcelona footballer Gerard Pique and backed by Rakuten chairman Hiroshi Mikitani.
“This is a complete game-changer for the ITF and for tennis,” said ITF president David Haggerty.
“Our vision is to create a major season-ending finale that will be a festival of tennis and entertainment, featuring the world’s greatest players representing their nations to decide the Davis Cup champions.”
The vision could be rubber-stamped at the ITF’s AGM in August and is a response to concerns about the dwindling profile of the Davis Cup.
All 16 teams in top two tiers of the Davis Cup would qualify for the World Cup of Tennis Finals – plus two more nations to be selected. The competition below the top two tiers would continue in its current format throughout the year.
Great Britain Davis Cup captain Leon Smith, who helped them to the trophy in 2015, gave the plans a cautious welcome.
“One of the first things that came to mind is the loss of the home and away tie. It works in other sports but remains to be seen if it could work in Davis Cup,” said Smith.
“However, I do think it’s really positive that the ITF is looking at significant investment from other sources to secure the future of the competition.”