Tennis: The Davis Cup ultimate takes place over 11 days in three cities
© Reuters. A logo can be seen at the entrance to the headquarters of the International Tennis Federation, where the Tennis Integrity Unit is located in London
By Martyn Herman
LONDON (Reuters) – The Davis Cup final 2021 will take place on eleven instead of seven days and will almost certainly be played in three cities, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) confirmed on Monday.
The changes proposed by ITF event partner Kosmos Tennis, the Spain-based investment firm that has raised $ 3 billion over 25 years, have been approved by the ITF board.
This year's event will take place from November 25th to December 5th.
The ITF confirmed that it is looking for two more European cities to share hosting of the 2021 final with Madrid, which will host the first edition of the revised competition in 2019.
Another change is to shorten the final from 18 to 16 teams from 2022.
"We want to make it better for the players, better for the fans and better for the teams," Kris Dent, ITF senior executive director, professional tennis, told Reuters.
"People love the idea of the best teams in the world coming together for one event, but seven days, especially the day after the ATP Finals, it just can't be done. We believe these changes will make a great competition even bigger . "
The 121-year-old men's team event was fundamentally revised in 2019. The format for home and away games was replaced by a football World Cup format in which the 18 best nations competed for the title at the Caja Magica in Madrid in November.
While praising the new event that ended with Rafa Nadal leading Spain to victory over Canada in the final, the logistics of playing 25 games of two singles and one doubles in three places in seven days was a challenge.
A tie between the United States and Italy ended at 4 a.m. local time.
"We think we made a great event in 2019, but there have certainly been some improvements such as planning and participation in the grandstands," Albert Costa, tournament director of the Davis Cup Finals, told Reuters.
"With the new format and the new project that we have now, we will solve all these problems. Eleven days are better for the players because you can't draw five in seven days."
On Monday, a 10-week tendering process was opened for European cities that want to host the final in 2021 together with Madrid.
Turin, the new host of the ATP final, would be a logical option while London is another potential co-host.
The two additional cities would each host two group stages and one quarter-finals each, with Madrid hosting two group stages, two quarter-finals, the semi-finals and the final.
"Players we've spoken to over the past few days have been really excited to add a few more cities, making it even more of a World Tennis Championship," said Dent.
"We're confident we'll get a good show of interest."
A final decision is expected by March based on the hosting and COVID-19 contingency proposals received from the bidders.
Last year's event was postponed due to the pandemic.
Costa believes three cities would allow more home fans – a traditional aspect of the Davis Cup.
"Three host countries mean a wider audience and more fans can see their players at home. It's something that both players and fans like," said the Spaniard.
The reduction to 16 nations for the final from 2022 would also lead to a “cleaner” format, according to Costa, as four groups of four and the two best reach the quarter-finals.
Twelve of the 16 nations would pass the qualifiers at the beginning of the year with two ITF wildcards and the winners and runners-up of the 2021 event.