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Davis Cup to undergo radical World Cup style reform after major vote

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FILE PHOTO: Switzerland's team members hold the trophy after winning the Davis Cup final against France at the Pierre-Mauroy stadium in Villeneuve d'Ascq, near Lille, November 23, 2014. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes/File Photo
The Davis Cup is an 118-year-old competition (Picture: REUTERS)

The Davis Cup will adopt the changes proposed by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) to radically shake-up the format of the event, bringing a World Cup-style event to the fore instead of the traditional home and away competition.

National federations gathered in Orlando, Florida for the ITF AGM to undertake the vote on a large scale set of changes to the 118-year-old competition, with the yes vote surpassing the 67% total required.

The home and away ties that made the Davis Cup so unique have now been scrapped under plans put forward by ITF chief David Haggerty and backed by the tennis world.

Haggerty proposed that the spread out format of the current competition, which takes place throughout the year in a variety of locations, is replaced by a single season-ending 18-nation event played at a neutral venue.

The plans were said by Haggerty to allow further development of the sport.

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He told AFP before the vote: The ITF is the only organisation that puts money into the development of the game.

The Davis Cup is a passionate competition (Picture: NurPhoto via Getty)
FILE PHOTO: Davis Cup trophy ahead of 2015 final between Belgium and Britain - Flanders Expo, Ghent, Belgium - 26/11/15 Action Images via Reuters / Jason Cairnduff/File Photo
The Davis Cup is much loved (Picture: REUTERS)

And thats what this project enables us to do. The money that we make will be put back to the nations for their development programs and the future of tennis.

Backed to the tune of $3billion by Kosmos Investment group – founded by Barcelona defender Gerard Pique – the new format proposed playing a 18-team tournament split into six groups of three teams, with six group winners and two runners-up advancing to the knockout rounds.

Rather than the traditional four singles and one doubles rubbers in a Davis Cup tie, it will feature only two singles and a doubles game.

The hope is that the proposal would attract more of the top players – who had been heavily critical of the Davis Cup in its previous format – to compete.

However, the radical changes attracted fierce opposition from many in the game, who felt the format needed tinkering rather than overhauling completely.

Former Grand Slam champion and Australia Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt labelled the changes as a money grab.

Britains governing body the Lawn Tennis Association made public its plans to vote against Haggertys suggestions.

Lawn Tennis Association statement

The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) has today informed the International Tennis Federation (ITF) that, regrettably, it is unable to support their proposed Davis Cup reforms at this time, and will oppose the resolution at the ITF AGM tomorrow.

The work the ITF does in governing and developing tennis across the world is vital, and a strong ITF is essential for the good of our sport. The LTA remains fully supportive of the ITF and its leadership and will work together on the future of Davis Cup regardless of the outcome of tomorrows vote.

Reform of the competition is needed. This is a special competition with deep roots in tennis, which has the ability to capture national pride in a way few others in our sport can. All of tennis wants to see a financially viable and sustainable competition that is supported by both players and fans that the sport can unite behind.

Having considered all the arguments, and consulted widely, the LTA remains concerned regarding aspects of the current proposal:

1. The LTAs vision is to grow and open up the sport. Concerns remain that the proposed format and its impact on the tennis calendar, extending the season for players, risks player participation and therefore fan appeal;

2. Despite some real progress in developing the format, there remain a number of outstanding queries, particularly on the clarity of how the business case will work in practice, which has led the LTA to conclude that it is too early to seek approval;

3. The proposal has created division amongst the member nations. The strength of the ITF in governing and developing tennis across the world will be reinforced by bringing tennis together behind a unified proposal and the LTA feels we have not yet reached that point.

A further concern for the plans was the ATP Tours relaunch of the World Team Cup, which is set to return in Australia at the start of 2020.

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The two competitions will be scheduled to run a matter of weeks apart and it seems improbable that both will survive in the long run.

Some fans of the sport were widely upset with the result, branding the Davis Cup as being dead.

davis cup found dead i guess

— liljana🌈 (@gayzatanna) August 16, 2018

As a tennis fan in a country where there is no ATP tour level tennis (despite producing 2 World No.1s) the #DavisCupVote is a disaster. The lack of consideration given to fans was abysmal. Me thinks the Davis Cup is dead.

— DK (@_DKilpatrick) August 16, 2018

The “old” Davis Cup is dead…. money has won over tradition 🎾😳🎾 #DavisCupVote

— Gerald Widhalm (@garyd13) August 16, 2018

Others disagreed…

Good news for Tennis, this should make the Davis Cup a bit more interesting.

Davis Cup reform: Nations vote for 18-team season-ending event https://t.co/1eqzDa02F3

— Tom Bucknall (@tombucknall) August 16, 2018

More: Tennis

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