International Tennis Federation launches the next phase of its international team competitions strategy

By iSportconnect | September 21, 2016

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) today announced the next phase of its international team competitions strategy. With an emphasis on format changes to Davis Cup and Fed Cup by BNP Paribas at all levels of the competitions, this next phase will also look at innovative new ways to host both finals.

The next phase will include:

· The launch of an open bid process to assess fixed host cities for the Davis Cup and Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Finals – a model used by events including the UEFA Champions League Final, Superbowl and European Rugby Champions Cup;

· Further steps towards the introduction of a 16-team World Group for Fed Cup by BNP Paribas via the introduction of a Final Four event;

· A full industry consultation on scheduling alternatives for the 2020 season;

· A review of current match formats used in Davis Cup by BNP Paribas, particularly the current best-of- five-sets approach and scheduling requirements during the week;

· An extensive feasibility study, by the newly created Davis & Fed Cup Taskforce, of format changes below World Group to better support and encourage involvement in both Davis and Fed Cup – particularly by developing tennis nations,and to further increase worldwide interest and viewership;

· A full assessment of current staging options for host venues and cities;

· A review of Junior Davis Cup and Fed Cup including the potential benefits of introducing new age group events;

All recommendations will be put to the ITF AGM in August 2017 with all changes requiring a formal vote of approval.

The bidding process for National Associations and cities interested in hosting the Finals will begin in December 2016 with the decision on successful bids anticipated to be made in the summer of 2017.

ITF President David Haggerty said:

“This is an exciting moment in the storied histories of these two much loved competitions. We have enjoyed significant fan interest in both competitions over recent years and remain determined to further grow that passion and support globally. The potential changes outlined today will help these unique international team tennis competitions to grow and prosper.

“A key goal for the ITF and member nations is to introduce a 16-team World Group in Fed Cup by BNP Paribas to ensure more nations from around the world have the opportunity each year to become world champions. The introduction of a final four will allow us not only to deliver this vital format change but also to create an even more outstanding year-end conclusion to the competition.

“Davis and Fed Cup by BNP Paribas remain the world’s largest annual team events in sport, they are unmatched in terms of fan passion and excitement but we must continue to enhance and innovate. A fixed final for Davis Cup by BNP Paribas will replicate the approach, seen in many other sports, for the tennis season’s finale that players, fans, partners and broadcasters can better plan for.

Over 130 nations are competing in 2016 and the reform of format at all levels of the competitions will encourage even more nations to take part, while potential changes in playing format will help athlete health and make participation even easier.”

Mary Pierce, two-time winner of Fed Cup by BNP Paribas and ITF Board member, said:

“Playing for France in Fed Cup by BNP Paribas was one of the highlights of my career and I have always followed the competition closely. Since I have been part of the ITF Board, I have heard many nations express their desire to have a 16-team World Group in Fed Cup to give more countries a chance to compete for the title. Staging both the semifinals and final over one week at a fixed venue will ensure even more players, from more nations, get the chance each year to compete for the World Cup of tennis.”

Mark Woodforde, Davis Cup by BNP Paribas winner and ITF Board member, said:

“During my playing career, I represented Australia 24 times including three finals, all played away. These were incredibly proud moments for me and the team and we were really gratified at the number of Australian fans who travelled to see us compete for the title. This is one of the reasons why I think it is important for the future of Davis Cup by BNP Paribas to have a fixed final venue to grow the competition and to give supporters time to plan their trips to see their teams compete.

“One of my roles since retirement has been as a tournament director, so I know how difficult it is to stage a big competition in only a few months. Having the time to prepare properly will only enhance the status of Davis Cup by BNP Paribas as one of the most important and unique competitions in sport. I support the changes proposed by the ITF for the future of Davis Cup.”