ITF and ATP in 'race against time' to launch World Cups
The ATP, the governing body for men's tennis, is pressing ahead with plans to launch a revived World Team Cup, which on the face of it appears to be a rival to the International Tennis Federation's World Cup of Tennis Finals, a long-planned reform of the Davis Cup, the men’s national teams competition.
The ATP had been looking to stage the WTC in Australia in January 2020, and it has not been dissuaded from doing so by the ITF's announcement last month of a lucrative 25-year, $3-billion partnership with investment group Kosmos, founded by Spanish soccer star Gerard Pique, to overhaul the Davis Cup, with a week-long finals played in one city beginning November 2019.
Jamie Murray, the British doubles player who is a member of the ATP Player Council, does not believe there is room in the tennis calendar for both events, telling the BBC, the UK's public-service broadcaster: "No, it's not going to happen. I think it's kind of a race against time now to see who can officially announce it."
The ITF's board of directors has endorsed the introduction of the World Cup of Tennis Finals, but the proposal must go before the annual general meeting in Orlando in August - with a two-thirds majority required for final approval - handing the advantage to the ATP.
Chris Kermode, executive chairman of the ATP, said in a statement to the BBC: "Our focus remains on bringing the ATP World Team Cup back into the calendar, an exciting project which we've been working on for over 18 months now, with the last few details still to be finalised.
"We believe we have a strong option in partnership with Tennis Australia in week one of the calendar, utilising locations which are known to showcase the sport in a very positive way. It's an option that would cause minimal disruption to existing player scheduling given that the vast majority of players are playing that week already in the southern hemisphere, and we continue to work towards bringing the event to fruition.
"The Davis Cup has over 100 years of history and the ITF are clearly looking to evolve the competition in an attempt to maximise its potential. The results of those efforts remain to be seen."
Murray claims the players would prefer the WTC option, noting: "It's in January, so it makes sense for all the players to be playing that tournament in the lead-up to the Australian Open. There will obviously be ATP points available as well, and potentially more money on the table for the players."
Adelaide, Brisbane, Perth and Sydney have been mooted as potential hosts of a nationwide WTC.
The original World Team Cup began in 1975 and was held in Düsseldorf, Germany from 1978 to 2012, but did not offer ranking points and suffered from taking place shortly before the French Open.
There is no guarantee the ITF's proposal will be approved, with opposition from a handful of European federations, most vocally Belgium and Germany.
Last August, a far less radical proposal to alter Davis Cup matches to the best of three tie-break sets attracted just under 64 per cent support from member nations.
The World Cup of Tennis Finals, which comes with significant financial backing from Hiroshi Mikitani, chairman and chief executive of Rakuten, the Japanese e-commerce company, would feature 18 nations. The ITF said "several world-class cities have already expressed interest in hosting the new event."