Wilander thinks Davis Cup revamp is a bad idea

LONDON • The Davis Cup must not try to compete with the soon-to-be-launched ATP Cup and revert to its traditional home-and-away format, according to Swedish great Mats Wilander.

In a controversial move, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) earlier this year voted to revamp the 118-year-old team event, which is known for its partisan, football-like crowds.

Instead of a months-long event in which ties are played on the home soil of one of the nations involved, including the final, a week-long 18-nation event, backed to the tune of US$3 billion (S$4.1 billion) by investment group Kosmos, will kick off in Madrid next November.

This weekend's Davis Cup final, where hosts and defending champions France take on Croatia at Lille's Stade Pierre Mauro, will be the last of its kind.

But Wilander feels the ITF should rethink the revamp and the upcoming final, which will be a massive event in France, is all the more reason to leave the format alone.

"You want to take that away?" he told Reuters. "France is perhaps the biggest tennis nation, but they don't have much to cheer at the French Open. The Davis Cup is a chance for French players to win something big in France.

"The Davis Cup is in the middle of reorganising, but they are not really knowing exactly what they need to do to get it back on track."

Next year's tournament will still have home-and-away ties - but only in the first round - and Wilander, who won three Davis Cup finals with Sweden, says that is the wrong way round.

"The Davis Cup should be home and away from the semi-finals as a minimum, I would say even the quarters," he stressed.

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who won the Davis Cup with Serbia in 2010 and reached the final of the ATP Finals in London on Saturday after beating South African Kevin Anderson 6-2, 6-2, concurred, saying that the rabid home support was what "attracted all the players and fans to this competition".

Wilander, however, was more positive about the ATP Cup, which features 24 nations and will start in January 2020 in three Australian cities, calling the event "a brilliant idea".

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 19, 2018, with the headline 'Wilander thinks Davis Cup revamp is a bad idea'. Print Edition | Subscribe