The tug of war among organizations that run men’s tennis has seemingly just begun.
But in an interview in the Swiss newspaper Blick, longtime Roger Federer agent Tony Godsick appears to shed light on one pressing conflict.
It’s one Godsick says is resolved. But if it is, it’s to the satisfaction of … only a few.
“Gerard Piqué, the organizer and investor, told me that the final week of the Davis Cup will take place in November for the next five to 10 years. In any case, we are sticking to our date,” Godsick told the newspaper.
That’s quite the major tidbit, right there.
And if it’s true, it would have significant implications.
Players – and Piqué – want September
Shortly after the fateful vote at the International Tennis Federation AGM in Orlando, Fla. last August, an article in Le Figaro quoted Piqué about moving the historic November date.
“The final was to take place in November. But after having spoken to most of the players, a large portion prefer the Davis Cup to take place in September. At the end of the day, I hope to put together a competition that fits what they’re hoping for. These are the most important people in the tennis world. Without players, there’s no sport. I’m thinking of Nadal, Cilic, Zverev, Djokovic … etc. All of them prefer September to November,” Piqué told the newspaper.
Notable among Piqué’s player “omissions” was … Federer.
No Piqué Cup: Federer
The face of the Laver Cup, Federer fired the first warning shot at the US Open. It was a masterpiece of passive-aggressive pecking order proclamation.
“I have not spoken to Gerard Piqué yet. But I admit that it’s a bit odd to see a footballer arrive and meddle in the tennis business. Be careful: the Davis Cup should not become the Piqué Cup,” Federer said.
Godsick has a vested interest in the success of the Laver Cup. (And we don’t believe anybody any more). So we’ll see if Piqué confirms the promise allegedly made in that conversation.
The Telegraph reported that following the vote in Orlando, Federer and Godsick’s management company “rejected a deal which would allow the Davis Cup finals to move from late November to late September, swapping positions in the calendar with the Laver Cup.”
The Telegraph also reported that, alternatively, Kosmos wanted to move the new Davis Cup finals ahead, to the week after the US Open. That’s the week the semifinals were played this year. But it’s also the week before the Laver Cup. So just as this year (when before his injury, Nadal chose Davis Cup over Laver Cup), that doesn’t eliminate the scheduling conflict.
That idea was “warned off by the United States Tennis Association, which didn’t want another big event competing so closely with its own chief moneyspinner,” the Telegraph reported.
If the November date is indeed a done deal, those players Piqué mentioned will not be happy. And those are players they need to make the “new” Davis Cup a success. The notion that the new event would bow to the Laver Cup exhibition – which involves just 12 top players, not 90 – also may not go over well.
Alexander Zverev notably has stated unequivocally that he won’t take part in any event held in November. Even his love for Davis Cup and playing for his country won’t supersede his need for an offseason.
Federer throwing his weight around
From Federer’s tone in that Telegraph interview, it sounded as though he might start throwing his considerable weight around with the game’s other icons, Djokovic and Nadal, to try to sort out this territorial battle. He said that he looked forward to the unusual opportunity at Laver Cup to spend time with Djokovic, whom he doesn’t know nearly as well as Nadal or others, to start that process.
“I need to really focus on this subject. I know it’s been around a little bit now, it only happened in Cincinnati. But then you have the US Open and then you have vacation and then you have this (Laver Cup),” he said. “So I think maybe after (the Laver Cup), and maybe throughout Shanghai, I will be able to really focus and dial in on what are all the moving parts. Because it isn’t simple.”
Nadal wasn’t in Chicago, and won’t be in Shanghai. But Federer suggested he could talk to him on the phone.
The back and forth with this will only increase as the proposed new ATP team event becomes more concrete in the next few months.
For now, if Godsick’s claims are true, the Laver Cup has won the first round.