Pique hopes new ATP leadership will be open to 'super event'
Gerard Pique, the Spanish soccer star behind men's tennis' revamped Davis Cup, has hailed the success of the inaugural week-long finals in Madrid, but said tweaks are needed for 2020, and even suggested a 'super event' in partnership with the new ATP Cup.
The 18-nation Davis Cup Finals concluded yesterday, with victory for home nation Spain, but in early January many of the same top players will return to international duty for the 24-nation ATP Cup in Australia.
Debate has raged for some time as to whether men’s tennis, which already has a crowded calendar, should have two national team tournaments, but neither the International Tennis Federation nor the ATP has been willing to back down, albeit ITF president David Haggerty, who was re-elected in September, has acknowledged that they could merge in future.
A new ATP executive will be in place from January with Italian pair Andrea Gaudenzi and Massimo Calvelli set to split the chairman and chief executive roles, respectively, of the outgoing Chris Kermode.
Pique, co-founder of Kosmos, the sports and media investment group that has revamped the Davis Cup in a 25-year, $3-billion partnership with the International Tennis Federation (with significant financial backing from Hiroshi Mikitani, chairman and chief executive of Rakuten), said: “In the last year, we’ve tried to sit down with the ATP, obviously the situation with the former president wasn’t ideal to sit down and try to arrive to a deal.
“Now there will be some changes, so we are expecting that so we can sit down again. I think that in the future, ITF and Kosmos, we are really open to sit down with the ATP and try to arrive to a deal, to make a unique competition, a super event of two weeks and try to find the best part in the calendar.
“I think Rafa (Nadal) and Novak (Djokovic), the number one and two in the world right now, have expressed that they want the same, they want just one event, and if it’s possible, to put it in September for two weeks. Since day one, we expressed we want to arrive to this deal. It makes no sense to have right now two different competitions that are very similar.”
However, another obstacle is the Laver Cup, played annually in September, contested by sides representing Europe and the rest of the world.
Away from any potential merger with the ATP Cup, Pique said Kosmos and the ITF will now focus on tweaks to the format for the 2020 Davis Cup Finals, after several late finishes this year.
With three matches per day, some did not finish until the early hours of the morning, and past 4am (CET) on one occasion.
Among the solutions is adding a fourth court at the Caja Magica complex or using another arena near the centre of Madrid to spread the matches, especially in the group stage.
The Barcelona soccer player said: "We will have to be more creative in the future. We had the experience of the timing this year, and for next year it’s something that worries us, but not too much because it’s easy to solve. So we will work on that."
He continued: "I think that a lot of people didn’t know what to expect. So there were a lot of people waiting to see what will happen and then decide for next year’s. All we want to do for next year is to try to attract them to bring more people."
Some 130,000 people attended matches in Madrid, and the ITF said it will work with national federations to try to get more fans to travel to matches in upcoming years. Next year’s finals will also be in the Spanish capital.
Haggerty said: "I think we’ve learned a lot of how they can engage more. So as Gerard said, I mean, we’re evaluating, we’re going to listen to all the stakeholders. We feel that it’s a fantastic start, a great foundation, but there are always improvements, as Gerard said, that we will make."Sportcal