Revamped Davis Cup Gets Positive Marks, But Issues Still Remain
The reworked Davis Cup in Madrid "got a passing grade on its first edition, with its modern look being accompanied by plenty of excitement on the court," but the "future success of the revamped tournament still depends on making it fit on a crowed tennis calendar that already has two other team competitions trying to establish themselves -- the Laver Cup and the ATP Cup," according to Tales Azzoni of the AP. Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, who both played in Madrid last week, "don't think the Davis Cup and the ATP Cup can co-exist," as both "suggest a merger would be the best solution." The ITF "signed a 25-year partnership with the Kosmos group" co-founded by Barcelona D Gerard Piqué to "make the Davis Cup more attractive and lucrative." It "transformed the year-long tournament into a one-week event played in a World Cup-style format in a single venue." Piqué said that the opinion of players like Nadal and Djokovic "needs to be heard." He added that talks with Roger Federer, who co-owns the Laver Cup and did not play in last week's Davis Cup, "have not advanced recently." Kosmos and the ITF "hope to play the new Davis Cup in September instead of making it the season-ending tournament in November." Djokovic said that this would "make the competition more attractive to players" (AP, 11/25).
NADAL'S MOMENT:In N.Y., Christopher Clarey notes Nadal, who led Spain to the Davis Cup title, was "undoubtedly the player of the week in this new, quick-hitting 18-team final format that is hardly to everyone’s taste in tennis." After Spain's victory yesterday, Nadal "addressed the capacity crowd of over 12,000" at La Caja Mágica. It was the "first in this new, much-debated format in which ties have been reduced from five best-of-five-set matches spread over three days to three best-of-three-set matches played over a single day." There were "issues with scheduling and technology and with a lack of spectators for matches not involving Nadal and Spain." In the end, only five of the year-end top 10 players "took part," with Federer having organized a Latin American exhibition tour with Alexander Zverev during the same week. Piqué said that changes "would be made, but the event is still set to return to Madrid with 18 teams" in '20 (N.Y. TIMES, 11/25). TENNIS.com's Steve Tignor noted the Spanish crowds "supported them through the late nights and long ties." Before yesterday's final, it "felt like a party" before a ball had "even been hit." Nadal "knew he was the star of the show and the closer for Spain, and he embraced both roles" (TENNIS.com, 11/24).
DEVIL IN THE DETAILS: Kosmos Tennis CEO Javier Alonso said that although the tournament was an "overall success, organizers need to work on ways to increase attendance and improve the scheduling of matches, among other things." The AP noted only matches involving host Spain had "full crowds, although the fan atmosphere at most matches has been good thanks to the traveling groups of supporters from some of the participating nations." Alonso said that Kosmos will "work with the presidents of the local tennis federations to try to bring more fans to the matches, many of which started with half-empty courts." Alonso said that it was a "mistake to stage the opening ceremony before the first matches on Monday, when Spain wasn’t playing and the crowds were small." He added that they "need to fix the scheduling of matches to avoid the late-night finishes that have prompted complaints from fans and players." The group-stage series between Italy and the U.S. ended past 4:00am local time Thursday, the "second latest finish in tennis history." Organizers "reacted quickly by moving start times forward by half an hour and reducing the interval times between matches, but Alonso said more will have to be done" (AP, 11/22).