Barcelona's Pique wins again as major Davis Cup shake-up approved

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TENNIS Australia and current and former players have strongly criticised a vote to revamp the 118-year-old Davis Cup into a season-ending World Cup-style format.

A two-thirds majority among the 140 nations was needed at the International Tennis Federation's (ITF) annual general meeting.

The first championship will be held on an indoor hardcourt from November 18-24, 2019, in either Madrid or Lille, France.

It will begin with a week-long qualifying round in February with 24 countries competing in traditional home and away matches.

Kosmos, an investment group led by Barcelona football star Gerard Pique with Japanese and Chinese support, will spend $3 billion over 25 years on the new event, with a European host for 2019, reportedly Madrid or Lille, expected to be announced later this month. Players are exhausted and then you are going to put the Davis Cup at the end of that.

The ITF argues the Kosmos deal and format changes will stabilise the ITF economically and increase funding for grass roots tennis world wide with around $25 million Dollars pumped back into the sport annually for development. "By voting in favor of these reforms, we will be able to work with Kosmos to realize the huge potential of the competition and elevate it to new standards".

"We all have to come together. we all want what's best for tennis and the Davis Cup", Haggerty said.

Matches will be two singles and a doubles rubber played on one day rather than the current best-of-five format.

"This is the beginning of a new stage that guarantees the pre-eminent and legitimate place that the Davis Cup should have as a competition for national teams while adapting to the demands of this professional sport at the highest level, " he said in a statement.

Former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash described it in a tweet as "a sad day for men's tennis", accusing organizers of "fooling themselves" if they thought top players would be attracted to compete.

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Complicating the landscape is the revived ATP World Team Cup set for January 2020 with 24 teams, prize money and rankings points to be played in Australia ahead of the Australian Open.

A new player prize fund of $20 million will bring the Davis Cup up to the prize money levels of the Grand Slam tournaments.

A controversial revamp of the Davis Cup format has been voted through at the International Tennis Federation's AGM.

However, an increasing number of top players have opted not to play in recent years due to the hectic schedule.

The ITF's main concern has been the scarce presence of the Big 4 - Federer, Nadal, Andy Murray and Djokovic - in Davis Cup ties.

The four semi-finalists from the previous year's tournament, plus two wildcards, would complete the 18 teams.

There was never a consideration of easing in changes to the Davis Cup to allow players to adjust to it. Vijay Amritraj had once proposed to have the tournament organised once every two years.

"This proposal takes away too much of what makes the Davis Cup special and unique", read a Tennis Australia statement.

"The ITF now has a major responsibility to ensure the great heritage and prestige of the competition is somehow retained in this new version of Davis Cup".