The Davis Cup is set to be transformed into an 18-nation World Cup-style event under proposals put forward by the International Tennis Federation.
The World Cup of Tennis would be played over seven days in the traditional week of the Davis Cup final, rather than across four weekends in February, July, September, and November.
Sixteen teams would automatically qualify for the finals, and two more would be selected.Matches would consist of two singles rubbers and one doubles, over best-of-three sets. The event will also feature a play-off round that will allow eight nations to qualify for the following year’s finals, while the current zone group competition will continue underneath that.
The proposal has been unanimously endorsed by the ITF board of directors and will be submitted for approval at the annual general meeting in Orlando, Florida, in August.
The ITF has announced a 25-year partnership, worth $3bn, with the investment group Kosmos to fund the tournament. The federation says “several world-class cities” have expressed an interest in hosting the event.
David Haggerty, the ITF president, said: “This is a complete gamechanger for the ITF and for tennis. 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. 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 around the world.”
It is hoped the new tournament, named the World Cup of Tennis Finals, will feature the game’s leading players and be held in one location over seven days at the end of each season. It would involve a round-robin stage, with the top eight teams moving forward to knockout rounds.
Haggerty said a decision on the venue for the inaugural competition will be taken in four to six weeks. There has been interest in the United States and Asia, among others.
It will be on a hard court to begin with, so players featuring in the ATP Finals in November don’t have to change surfaces.
“We want to find a relevant city that is world class,” Haggerty said, “where sport and entertainment can come together, where fans will travel.”
Haggerty said the ITF’s long-term goal is to turn the Fed Cup into a similar one-week event.
“This is a complete game-changer for the ITF and for tennis,” he said.