Tennis leaders preparing to vote on Davis Cup overhaul

A new Davis Cup format that tennis’ governing body believes is more enticing for players and more lucrative for nations will be voted on this week. The proposal to overhaul the current calendar-year format of the 118-year-old event is being discussed this week at the International Tennis Federation conference in Orlando, Florida, with the vote set for Thursday. If approved, 18 nations would play in a weeklong, World Cup-style event at the end of the year.

The original proposal has been amended after some countries _ with Australia being one of the most vocal _ objected to simply an 18-team tournament at a neutral site, largely because of the loss of home matches. The current proposal calls for 24 teams to play home-or-away matches in February, with the 12 winners moving to the final. They would be joined there by the four semifinalists from the year before, and by two wild-card teams.

ITF President David Haggerty said he is optimistic for approval, which he said would be good for the sport’s growth. “The money that we will make will go to the nations to put into their development programs for juniors and for the future of tennis,” Haggerty said Tuesday during a conference call.

In the current model, only the team hosting the Davis Cup sees much financial benefit, Haggerty said, whereas “this will be $25 million of incremental funding that goes to 200 nations around the world for Davis Cup, for Fed Cup, and for development.”

The Davis Cup is currently contested over four weekends in February, July, September and November, the early rounds not long after the Grand Slam tournaments, and many top players have skipped it in recent years before of concerns about overscheduling.

“I think one thing the players told me back in September of 2016 when I met with them and in follow up, (is) that Davis Cup had to change,” Haggerty said. He said players recommended the one-week event, adding that top players such as Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have backed the amended proposal, which would also shorten Davis Cup matches from best-of-five sets to best-of-three.

Teams that reach the final would be placed into six three-team groups for round-robin play, where they would play two singles matches and one doubles match. The six group winners and two more teams with the best records would qualify for the single-elimination quarterfinal round.

About 120 delegates will vote on the proposal. The ITF devised it in conjunction with investment group Kosmos, which was founded by Barcelona and Spain soccer player Gerard Pique. The partnership is worth $3 billion over 25 years.

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