The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has announced major changes to take place in the Davis Cup event … and it has met mixed reviews.
Like The World Cup
According to ESPN.com, “beginning next year, the top team event in men’s tennis will be decided with a season-ending, 18-team tournament at a neutral site, creating an event that the International Tennis Federation believes will be more attractive to elite players who have often passed on competing for their countries while already facing a crowded schedule.
“Teams will play one week in February to advance to the championship in November, replacing the current Davis Cup format that is played over four weekends throughout the year.
New Prize Pool
“And players will be competing for what the ITF says rivals Grand Slam prize money after a $3 billion, 25-year agreement that was approved Thursday at the organization’s conference in Orlando, Florida. A spokesman said about 71 percent of the delegates voted for the reform.
“The finalists will be placed into six, three-team groups for round robin play, involving two singles matches and one doubles match, all best-of-three-sets — instead of the current format that has four singles matches and one doubles match that are best-of-five. The winners, along with the next two teams with the best records, will advance to the single-elimination quarterfinals.”
Critics Question the Moves
Critics of the new plan say it involves too much change to fundamental elements of an event that has been around for more than a century. Tennis Australia commented, “Reform is vital for the competition, but this proposal takes away too much of what makes the Davis Cup unique and special, especially the home and away aspect.”
Winder Bill writes, “If I read the two singles, one doubles format correctly, what stops “sandbagging” typical of USTA rated league tennis where a team does not think it’s #1 player (doubles team) can beat the other so it plays it’s #1 at #2?
“Think of Spain playing Great Britain and Andy Murray plays Verdasco at #2 singles instead of Nadal at #1. Maybe requiring the #1 vs #2 selection to be based upon current ranking?”
Need For Change
I believe that the Davis Cup coverage – particularly in America – has become a sports-irrelevant side note. And this new combined approach will give it the kind of focus it has lost over the years.
What do you think?
Know someone who should read this? Send them a link and if you are not on my “new posting alert email list” and want to be (I promise, no other uses of your email address!), just drop me a note at GeorgeWachtel@gmail.com
My Book: if you’d like to get a copy of “Senior Tennis”, just click on the link on the upper right of this web page to go to Amazon.com, look at the list of places under “My Book” on the bar above, or ask me what clubs are carrying it!