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Davis Cup organisers do not fear 'World Cup' plan

By Piers Newbery

Spain celebrate winning the Davis Cup in 2009
Spain celebrate winning the 2009 Davis Cup in Barcelona

Davis Cup organisers insist they are confident in the event's future despite proposals for a rival team event.

The world's top male players are to consider plans for a biennial 'World Cup' involving 32 nations over 10 days.

But the International Tennis Federation insists its 110-year old annual competition is not under threat.

"We are prepared to listen and see more details but are extremely confident in the future of the Davis Cup," said ITF executive vice president Juan Margets.

A report in The Times initially revealed that a Melbourne-based sports marketing group had proposed a biennial 10-day male-only tournament, branded the 'Grand Slam of Nations'.

The new tournament would involve 32 teams and see ties consist of a single five-set match with player substitutions.

Players are the ones who are making the show and their opinions have to be greatly considered

Novak Djokovic

"We received a draft proposal from this Australian group a couple of months ago, before the Davis Cup final in December," said Margets, "and they were invited to attend the last Davis Cup committee meeting in December but they didn't come."

World number three Novak Djokovic said on Wednesday that the idea came from the ATP Player Council and confirmed that the leading male players are to discuss the proposal further at next week's Australian Open.

"It's all fresh and it's all ideas," said the Serb. "We have to consider other sides as well. This is the bottom line. Without sponsors there wouldn't be a tournament; without tournaments, players wouldn't exist.

"But still, players are the ones who are making the show and their opinions have to be greatly considered.

"This time I think that slowly things will get better. But these are things that cannot happen overnight."

However, Davis Cup officials have rejected any suggestion that their tournament is threatened and raised doubts about the viability of introducing another event to an already packed calendar.

606: DEBATE
Ustennisgirl

"We don't see this as an automatic replacement for the Davis Cup," Margets told BBC Sport.

"The Davis Cup has evolved over 110 years, with the abolition of the challenge round, the creation of the World Group, the seeding of nations according to objective criteria.

"The major difference with this proposal is that the Davis Cup is a home and away concept that has support from overseas television stations, fans and players.

"We will listen to the proposal and they are invited to our next Davis Cup committee meeting.

"If it is something we don't see as interesting for us then, of course, any promoter is free to do what they want but it doesn't look easy to implement."

He added: "The benchmark is the Davis Cup final in December [between Spain and the Czech Republic in Barcelona] - 16,000 spectators every day in a top-quality stadium.

"As I say, we haven't seen the details but the proposal of a 10-day tournament seems more like a version of the Dusseldorf event [ATP World Team Championship]. It is easier to say than to implement a two-week tournament every two years."

Speaking in Australia, Croatia's Ivan Ljubicic claimed players wanted to represent their country but believed the annual Davis Cup format had become outdated.

"The format is not suited for the players at the moment," he said. "Our sport is going forward so you have to change something about it.

"Maybe it was perfect 20 or 30 years ago, but now it's really too much for us - best of five sets, three days in a row - and for sure the week after you can't play, the week before you can't play."



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see also
Spain clinch Davis Cup final win
06 Dec 09 |  Tennis
Murray defends Davis Cup pull-out
03 Jan 10 |  Tennis


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