Davis Cup set for radical overhaul with new format

DavisCup - Cropped
The Davis Cup (Getty Images)

The Davis Cup will be held under a new format beginning in 2019 after Thursday’s vote found in favor of the International Tennis Federation’s (ITF) proposals by a 71.43 percent majority.

Back in February, the ITF put forward its plans for the competition, which is currently held as a 16-team straight knockout tournament throughout the year and culminates in a final in late November.

In a bid to ensure the sport’s top stars continue to participate, the ITF endorsed a 25-year, $3 billion partnership with investment group Kosmos — chaired by soccer star Gerard Pique.

Under the revamped structure, an 18-team event will be condensed into one week at the end of the season, featuring six groups of three, with the pool winners and two best runners-up advancing to a knockout phase.

Rather than ties consisting of four singles and one doubles match, played over five sets, the truncated version will see only three-set affairs, each tie comprising two singles and one doubles contest.

The likes of Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have previously expressed their support for the changes, although those views were by no means universally held — the likes of Lleyton Hewitt and Lucas Pouille particularly outspoken in their dislike of the proposed format.

Pique, however, revelled in his, Kosmos’ and the ITF’s success following the vote among the national tennis federations in Orlando.

“Today is a historic day and we are convinced that the agreement ratified by the nations certainly guarantees the future of the Davis Cup and the development of tennis at all levels,” Pique said.

“I would like to thank ITF President David Haggerty, the ITF Board of Directors and the entire team of ITF professionals for their work with Kosmos over the past few months and welcome a new stage in which we will continue to evolve together. I would also like to congratulate all those who, with their votes, have embraced this change and have seen the momentous decision that was in their hands.

“This is the beginning of a new stage that guarantees the preeminent and legitimate place that the Davis Cup should have as a competition for national teams while adapting to the demands of this professional sport at the highest level. It is a great honor for me to be part of this historic process of a sport that I am passionate about and, without a doubt, in both personal and professional terms this is one of the happiest days of my life.”