A com­bi­na­tion of er­rors from the ITF?

Ques­tions raised over pro­posal to host Davis and Fed Cup fi­nals in Geneva

The National - News - Sport - - TENNIS -

The In­ter­na­tional Tennis Fed­er­a­tion has risked the wrath of the lead­ing play­ers by an­nounc­ing plans to hold a com­bined event fea­tur­ing the Davis and Fed Cup fi­nals in Geneva from 2018-20.

The ITF’s pref­er­ence for a neu­tral venue for both fi­nals has been met with re­sis­tance within the game.

The pro­posal needs to be ap­proved by the na­tional gov­ern­ing bod­ies at the ITF AGM in Au­gust so there re­mains a pos­si­bil­ity it will not go ahead.

The ITF is also look­ing into in­clud­ing the Fed Cup semi-fi­nals as part of the same event to en­able the World Group to ex­pand from eight to 16 teams, bring­ing it into line with the Davis Cup. All other rounds would be played on a home-and-away ba­sis, but that will not pla­cate the doubters.

Aus­tralian player Sam Groth wrote on Twit­ter: “Have the @ITF_ Tennis lost the plot with these @ Dav­isCup re­forms?”

Com­bin­ing the two in Novem­ber will also in­crease the length of the women’s sea­son, with the Fed Cup fi­nal cur­rently tak­ing place two weeks be­fore the Davis Cup fi­nal.

The sta­tus of the Davis and Fed Cups has been un­der­mined by the grow­ing ab­sence of top play­ers and ITF pres­i­dent David Hag­gerty has made re­form­ing the com­pe­ti­tions a pri­or­ity.

The re­duc­tion of men’s sin­gles matches from best of five sets to best of three will also be voted on in Au­gust and should pass com­fort­ably.

More than 20 cities ex­pressed an in­ter­est in host­ing the event, with Geneva beat­ing Copen­hagen, Is­tan­bul, Mi­ami, Turin and Wuhan from a short­list of six. The venue in Geneva would be the 18,000 ca­pac­ity Pal­expo, with the matches to be played on a hard court.

The ITF ar­gues that a fixed fi­nal would max­imise com­mer­cial and me­dia in­ter­est while re­mov­ing the cur­rent dif­fi­cul­ties gov­ern­ing bod­ies ex­pe­ri­ence in try­ing to find a suitable venue at short no­tice.

The ex­tra rev­enue would be put to­wards in­creased prize money, player par­tic­i­pa­tion in­cen­tives and world­wide tennis de­vel­op­ment.

Hag­gerty said: “The cre­ation of the World Cup of Tennis fi­nals is at the heart of a se­ries of re­forms that rep­re­sent the most sig­nif­i­cant changes in the his­tory of Davis Cup and Fed Cup.

“Change is needed to en­sure that we max­imise the full po­ten­tial of these iconic and his­toric com­pe­ti­tions.

“We’ve con­sulted widely and lis­tened care­fully, and be­lieve we will de­liver an ex­cep­tional new event for fans, play­ers and na­tions.”

Win­ning over lead­ing male play­ers will be cru­cial, with the ATP po­ten­tially fur­ther weak­en­ing the Davis Cup by ex­plor­ing plans for its own tennis World Cup backed by Barcelona’s Ger­ard Pique.

Mean­while, the in­au­gu­ral Laver Cup, a Ry­der Cup-style event backed by Roger Fed­erer’s man­age­ment com­pany and Tennis Aus­tralia, will take place in Prague this Septem­ber.

Darko Bandic / AP Photo

Ar­gentina de­feated Croa­tia to win the fi­nal of the Davis Cup in Za­greb.

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