MADRID (NWN) — More host cities and fewer countries will play next season in an effort to increase fan engagement and keep team events sustainable, organizers said on Sunday.
The International Tennis Federation and Cosmos Tennis Group, behind the competition, said the four cities would host the group stages starting in 2022, with another venue – possibly Abu Dhabi – hosting the knockout rounds.
Madrid was the only host of the competition in 2019 over a period of seven days. This year, Innsbruck in Austria and Turin in Italy were added as hosts over an 11-day period. The event was not played in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Each city will host matches from one of four-team groups, with the top two teams advancing to the knockout stage. This year, the group’s winners in six groups, as well as the top two second-place finishers, advanced.
Changes are being made as organizers continue to address the scheduling challenges associated with the first edition from two years ago.
Cosmos CEO Enrique Rojas said, “We are constantly thinking about how to improve, adjust for the future and see the 2022 edition.” “We are going to try again to make one more adjustment, to four different cities hosting the group stage, and then to a neutral city to play the final part of the competition.
“We think with that little adjustment and growth we’re going to have even more fan engagement and more people in the arena as there are four cities with additional domestic interest,” he said. “It’s going to give us, in our view, a real successful event and the final piece of what will become the real World Cup of tennis.”
Organizers declined to ratify a deal with Abu Dhabi to become a neutral host city next year.
ITF President David Haggerty said, “We have a favorite city that has a vision that we share, that we share together, for the Davis Cup, continuing to build on that competition.”
“It’s one of the main ingredients,” he said. “We will leave behind a legacy in all four cities that will have the group stage as well as the preferred city final. There are several excellent reasons why we believe this favorite host is where we will go. In due course, we will be one Will announce.”
The bidding process will begin in January for all the cities desirous of becoming host. Cities will have six weeks to submit their proposals and a final decision is expected by mid-March. If the home country does not qualify for the tournament then the backup host cities will be there.
Some players and team captains expressed concern over traveling to Abu Dhabi at the end of the season.
Rojas said, “After talking to many players and captains and federations, I think that the noise we are hearing is because of Abu Dhabi or other things, that the noise will always be there, no matter what you do.”
Haggerty said he was pleased with the players’ response to the new format this season.
“The players we spoke to have enjoyed the experience of the new final and have said they look forward to future editions,” he added. “As you’ve heard the recent comments from Novak Djokovic, Rafa Nadal, Marin Cilic and Daniil Medvedev, have shown that our vision for the competition is shared by key players.”
Haggerty said the lessons from 2019 “have been addressed” and that the format for next year will “provide the flexibility of schedules that are needed. This will reach more fans and secure the economic stability of the competition.”
Organizers said Great Britain and Serbia have been awarded two wild-card spots for next year.
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