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Tennis: Davis Cup set for radical World Cup style reform

The Davis Cup, a tournament that defines the world's best tennis nation, is set for a radical shake-up. The 118-year-old men's tournament will have a World Cup-style finals for the first time in 2019.

The somewhat controversial measures proposed by International Tennis Federation (ITF) president David Haggerty received a vote of 71.4 per cent at the federation's conference in Orlando, Florida,
on Thursday - above the necessary two-thirds majority.

Several national federations were opposed to the change to the longstanding event, including Germany's tennis federation which voted against.

Read more: Boris Becker says Germany is in a tennis boom

The investment company Kosmos, founded by Barcelona footballer Gerard Pique, has promised $3 billion (€2.6 billion) to the ITF for 25 years, is behind the plans, which will see 18 nations play a week-long World Cup style finals in November at a neutral venue. 

The competition will begin with 24 teams playing home-or-away matches in February, with the 12 winners moving to the finals. 

The four semifinalists from the year before and two wild-card teams would join them in the 18-team year-end event.

The finals will consist of six round-robin groups of three teams followed by quarterfinals, semifinals and the final. Matches will be two singles and a doubles rubber played on one day rather than the current best-of-five format.

Several tennis stars including current French player Alize Cornet, former US Open finalist Greg Rusedski and multiple doubles Grand Slam champion Todd Woodbridge immediately spoke out against the proposals on Twitter.

"A footballer gets the stage at the ITF AGM to tell us why the Davis Cup needs to change but legends of the game, of which there are many who disagree, do not," wrote Woodbridge.

The Davis Cup is currently contested over four weekends in February, July, September and November. The current holders are France while Germany were last victorious in 1993.

mp (dpa, AP)

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