LONDON – The International Tennis Federation announced a plan on Monday to transform the current Davis Cup format through a partnership with the Kosmos investment group, the founder and president of which is Gerard Pique, who plays as a defender for Spain and the La Liga soccer club Barcelona.
The proposal, which still requires the approval of the ITF during its annual general meeting in August, involves a weeklong, 18-country season-ending World Cup of Tennis Finals to be held in one city starting from 2019, according to the federation’s website.
“This is a complete game-changer for the ITF and for tennis. Our Board has supported a bold and ambitious plan for the future of Davis Cup by BNP Paribas, one of the sport’s most cherished and important events and a key cornerstone in our ITF2024 strategy,” the ITF President David Haggerty said.
“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,” Haggerty said.
The new format involves $3 billion in investments over 25 years from Pique’s investment group Kosmos, which is backed by Hiroshi Mikitani, the chairman and chief executive of Japanese e-commerce firm Rakuten.
“Kosmos is thrilled to join in this exciting partnership with the ITF. 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 ITF website cited Pique as saying. “Kosmos will also invest $3 billion over 25 years into tennis that will help develop the game worldwide.”
With a Group Stage qualifying for the quarterfinals, each tie of the new format would include two singles rubbers and one doubles rubber.
The World Group nations will book an automatic place in the Finals, plus another two teams to be selected, without any alterations on the zone group competition format.
The Davis Cup’s current format includes 16 teams that fight for the title over four knockout stages held between February and November.