Davis Cup: ITF plans to introduce 18-team World Cup of Tennis Finals in a new format


An 18-nation World Cup of Tennis Finals is planned as the International Tennis Federation (ITF) revamps the Davis Cup.

The week-long event, which would be held in November, has been unanimously endorsed by the ITF's board of directors and could start in 2019.

The ITF has outlined a 25-year, $3bn (£2.15bn) plan with an investment group founded by footballer Gerard Pique.

A two-thirds majority at the ITF annual general meeting will be required for final approval of the proposals.

That meeting is scheduled to take place in Orlando in August.

A proposal to reduce Davis Cup singles matches to the best-of-three sets was rejected last year.

"Our vision is to create a major season-ending finale that will be a festival of tennis and entertainment, featuring the world's greatest players representing their nations to decide the Davis Cup champions," said ITF chairman David Haggerty.

"This new partnership will not only create a true World Cup of Tennis, but will also unlock record levels of new investment for future generations of tennis players and fans around the world."

Barcelona and Spain defender Pique said his Kosmos investment group was "thrilled to join in this exciting partnership with the ITF".

He added: "Together we can elevate the Davis Cup to new heights by putting on a must-see World Cup of Tennis Finals featuring the top nations and top players."

The event would be run on a round-robin format before a knockout phase, with matches consisting of two singles and one doubles rubber. Matches will be played over the best-of-three sets.

The 16 World Group nations will automatically qualify for the finals, with a further two nations to be selected.

France are the Davis Cup champions, having beaten Belgium in November.

Leon Smith captained Great Britain's Davis Cup-winning team of 2015

There's still a long way to go as it requires approval at the ITF annual general meeting, but we're still passionate about the Davis Cup and I, like everyone else, realize that changes need to be made to ensure longevity and status of the competition.

Of course, one of the first things that came to mind is the loss of the home and away tie. It works in other sports but remains to be seen if it could work in Davis Cup.

However, I do think it's really positive that the ITF is looking at significant investment from other sources to secure the future of the competition.

For now we'll just have to keep an open mind as we start to learn more about this proposed new structure and whatever the outcome, I hope the Davis Cup remains the most important team event in world tennis.

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World Group home and away ties, played on a variety of surfaces, will be sorely missed by many fans (and some players) - but something needs to change if the Davis Cup is to remain a relevant, global sporting event.

In fact, the Davis Cup - at elite level - will never be the same again if the ITF's member nations endorse the plan in August. It should not be forgotten, though, that less radical reforms failed to attract the necessary two-thirds majority when put to a vote last summer.

This time, though, there is a serious amount of money on the table, which will benefit both players and the grassroots.

Then there is the involvement of Gerard Pique, who spoke to the ATP about setting up a similar event at the start of each year. This could turn out to be quite a coup for the ITF as Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic all spoke very positively about his potential involvement.

As for the women's Fed Cup competition, the ITF's first priority is to establish a 16-team World Group (instead of the existing two-tier structure) in time for 2019. If that proves successful, there is the potential in future for the Fed Cup to be organised along similar lines to this proposed new World Cup.

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