Piqué and Djokovic-backed tennis world cup gets ITF blessing
The new competition will replace the Davis Cup with a single 18-nation tournament to be played in a single location annuallyRyder Cup 2018 final day: Europe vs USA, Sunday singles
Gerard Piqué and Novak Djokovic have successfully lobbied the International Tennis Federation (ITF) to set in motion a massive shake-up of the Davis Cup competition, which in recent years has suffered from complaints from top players about its format and duration.
Barça defender Piqué and 12-times Grand Slam winner Djokovic are behind a new initiative that will see the formation of an 18-nation World Cup of Tennis Finals, the ITF said on Monday.
The one-week event played in one location in November could start next year, pending approval by the ITF Board.
In a statement outlining a 25-year, $3 billion partnership with investment group Kosmos, which is headed by Piqué, ITF President David Haggerty said it would be a game-changer for the competition.
"Our vision is to create a major season-ending finale that will be a festival of tennis and entertainment, featuring the world's greatest players representing their nations to decide the Davis Cup champions," he said.
The new event would be the biggest revamp of the Davis Cup, which has been in existence since 1900 but has suffered in recent years with top players not turning out for their nations.
In the current format, 16 countries take part in a knockout competition starting in February and culminating in the final in November. Each tie is best-of-five-matches, four singles and one doubles.
Barcelona and Spain international footballer Gerard Piqué, founder and president of Kosmos, has been a prime mover in the plans to transform the ITF's flagship event alongside Djokovic, who led Serbia to the Davis Cup final in 2013.
Piqué: "It will be a must-see World Cup of Tennis Finals"
The investment from Kosmos will include significant increases in prize money for players and ITF member nations, according to the sport's London-based governing body. It would also help fund grass-roots projects.
"This is a complete game-changer for the ITF and for tennis," Haggerty said. "This new partnership will not only create a true World Cup of Tennis, but will also unlock record levels of new investment for future generations of tennis players and fans."
The ITF said several "world-class" cities had expressed interest in hosting the new event.
The plans will be submitted to the ITF Annual General Meeting, to be held in August in Orlando, Florida and a two-thirds majority will be required for final approval.
"Kosmos is thrilled to join in this exciting partnership with the ITF," Pique said. "Together we can elevate Davis Cup by BNP Paribas to new heights by putting on a must-see World Cup of Tennis Finals featuring the top nations and top players."
The event would be run on a round-robin format before a knockout phase with matches consisting of two singles and one doubles rubber. Matches will be played over best-of-three-sets.
Sixteen World Group nations will automatically qualify for the Finals, with a further two nations to be selected.