ITF defers World Cup of Tennis plans

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Despite stating they had done much advance consulting, it turns out the International Tennis Federation jumped the gun a little by announcing their ambitious plan for a World Cup of Tennis next year.

The ITF announced three weeks ago that Geneva had been selected to host the event for three years, from 2018-2020.

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It intended to bring the Davis Cup and Fed Cup finals under the same roof in a week-long tennis extravaganza. But by its very date on the schedule, the event would extend the WTA season two weeks. A few years ago,the WTA took great pains to try to shorten its season by ending it the week after the Tour Finals in Singapore.

That was just one issue. The reaction wasn’t great.

More time to reach alignment

The ITF “has continued to consult with all stakeholders on the proposed event and its extensive benefits. The Board has listened carefully to feedback and has decided to defer bringing this motion to the ITF AGM for vote until 2018 to allow more time to reach alignment,” the ITF statement read.

ITF president David Haggerty said that taking another year “to build consensus around the World Cup of Tennis Finals will allow us to finalize an even stronger recommendation to the AGM. This decision shows that we do not act unilaterally, and are working with all our stakeholders to find the best solution for tennis.”

Except, it seems they kind of did act unilaterally by announcing it in the first place. It appeared to be a quick reaction to the new Laver Cup event scheduled for September and organized outside the ITF’s purview. 

The ITF is organizing a task force to look into the World Cup of Tennis issue. That, of course, is something they might well have done before they announced it. The co-chairs will be two ITF board members. One is Haggerty’s fellow American Katrina Adams, president of the USTA. The other is new French Federation chief Bernard Giudicelli. Other outside experts also will be consulted.

The list of the other planned Davis Cup and Fed Cup reforms has been finalized. It will be put to a vote at the ITF’s annual general meeting Aug. 4 in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Proposed changes to Davis Cup

*All singles matches in Davis Cup will be played as best-of-three tiebreak sets, rather than best-of-five sets. Davis Cup will retain its three-day format. Doubles still played on the Saturday over the best-of-five sets.

*The finalists in both Davis Cup and Fed Cup will be guaranteed the choice of hosting their first-round tie in the following year.

*The Davis Cup dead rubber policy will be amended to reduce the number of dead rubbers. If the fourth match is decisive, and lasts three sets or at least 90 minutes, the fifth match will not be played. A match tiebreak will replace the third set in all Davis Cup dead rubbers.

*Hosting costs for national associations will be reduced. This includes the reduction of match court availability by one day.

*Player onsite commitments will be reduced.

The ITF still wants to combine World Groups I and II in Fed Cup to one 16-nation group, the same as Davis Cup. But it doesn’t sound as though that is a short-term change. Certainly it won’t happen in 2018.

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