Haggerty eyes joint ITF-ATP team tournament during second term
By Jonathan Rest at Regional SportAccord Pan America in Fort Lauderdale
International Tennis Federation president David Haggerty is confident the arrival of new leaders at the men’s ATP Tour will result in a single, bumper annual national teams tournament on the calendar by the end of his second term.
Haggerty, who last week was nominated as an International Olympic Committee member, is in office until 2023 having eased to victory in an election earlier this year.
The American’s first term was marked by his reform of the Davis Cup men's national teams competition through a 25-year, $3-billion partnership with Kosmos Tennis, the sports and media investment group founded by Spanish soccer star Gerard Piqué.
The 18-team finals debuted in Madrid last month, with victory for home nation Spain, and was deemed a success.
However, in three weeks’ time many of the same top players will return to international duty for the 24-nation ATP Cup in Australia.
Debate has raged for some time as to whether men’s tennis, which already has a crowded calendar, should have two national team tournaments – it actually has a third in the shape of the Laver Cup - but neither the ITF nor the ATP has been willing to back down.
Haggerty said he is hoping for an open dialogue with the new ATP executive of Italian pair Andrea Gaudenzi and Massimo Calvelli, who are splitting the chairman and chief executive roles respectively, of the outgoing Chris Kermode.
Speaking to Sportcal on the sidelines of the Regional SportAccord Pan America in Fort Lauderdale, Haggerty said: “I had a brief meeting with Andrea Gaudenzi a month ago in London to start a dialogue. New leaders should bring new views. He sees that tennis is stronger when we work together. He is very open to dialogue and how we can work together.
“The calendar remains a big issue, particularly on the men’s side. It remains a cluttered, long season.”
The ITF will return to Madrid for the Davis Cup finals in 2020, with the Spanish capital understood to be keen to extend the contract by an additional year, albeit the federation and Kosmos have held “informal talks with a number of cities in Europe and beyond.”
By 2023, the ITF and the ATP could be working together on the host city search.
Haggerty noted: “There are commercial contracts in place on both sides, but I think the next four years gives us the runway to talk together and find ways to make the one event that can be better for everyone.”
The ITF president hailed the Madrid finals as “a fantastic start”, but admitted tweaks are needed for 2020, most likely the addition of a fourth court, while start times and formats will be looked at after several late finishes this year.
With three matches per day, some did not finish until the early hours of the morning, and past 4am (CET) on one occasion.
As it stands, there are no plans to host the Davis Cup finals in more than one city to ease scheduling.
Haggerty continued: “We think the most important thing we saw in Madrid was having all the teams in one location, with 18 teams parading on the court. You don’t see that anywhere else in our sport. So one city makes sense.”
The revamp of the women’s Fed Cup has been an easier process, with the WTA fully on board with the introduction of a 12-team, week-long tournament in Budapest next April.
There will be $18 million in prize money, $12 million for the players and $6 million for the nations.
Haggerty said: “We are working with the Hungarian Tennis Federation, which has government support, so it’s a different commercial model to the Davis Cup. And we worked with the WTA on the calendar. We are close to them, being a board member, so there was a joint goal to shorten the calendar, which we’ve been able to do, giving them a week back at the end of the season.”