Dhe Davis Cup is dead, long live the Davis Cup! Just five years passed from the announcement to the termination of the remodeled team competition on Thursday evening; The cooperation between the world tennis association ITF and the Spanish investor group Kosmos was planned for 25 years.
“A festival of tennis and entertainment,” promised ITF President David Haggerty, who was just as unable to resist the lure of three billion dollars as the ITF bodies, the majority of whom voted in favor of the deal in 2018.
The strong counter-arguments of major tennis nations such as Great Britain, Australia and Germany were ignored; the tennis pros weren’t even asked what they think of the end of the mostly wonderfully heated home and away games.
Even in the (mostly older) tennis audience, many turned out to be Davis Cup traditionalists and gave the new format the cold shoulder even after the corona restrictions were over. The enforcement of qualifying matches, intermediate and final rounds at different locations was a tennis revolution from above, which is now probably eating its children. It seems inconceivable that Haggerty can still hold on as ITF boss.
There are good reasons why the long-standing chief critics, including some from Germany, are now holding back any howling of triumph. For one thing, the Davis Cup disaster was to be expected. In addition to nice words, investor Kosmos only had bad figures to offer, allegedly he was only able to keep some of his promises with a delay. Secondly, the Davis Cup must be financed beyond 2023, so the millions in revenue promised by Kosmos must quickly come from somewhere else.
Point three is the trickiest: A return to the old form would bring with it the old problems again. The annual tour calendar is so packed that Davis Cup encounters spread over several dates would be too much for the tennis stars. Just like before, when Federer & Co. were often absent.
The ITF presidential election this year gives hope. Should Dietloff von Arnim, who as President of the German Tennis Association has an open ear for many things, be elected Haggerty’s successor, a balance of all interests seems more likely: instead of a revolution from above, a reform for everyone.