Five years have passed since Cosmosthe company owned by Gerard Piqué, acquired the exploitation rights to the Davis Cup and announced a revolutionary change in format that turned the oldest competition in tennis upside down. Then, the former Barça soccer player proposed eliminating the home and away series and converting the great national team tennis tournament into something similar, bridging the gap, by Soccer World Cup with the aim of revitalizing a competition that has fallen into decline during the last decade.
Previous qualifying rounds in February, traveling venues, a final phase divided into two sections at the end of the season… The proposal convinced the International Tennis Federation (ITF)which saw the opportunity to once again generate value with its star product, which had a hard time attracting big players on the circuit but which, at least, still maintained local momentum in each of the qualifying rounds.
For this reason and, to a large extent also because Kosmos’s siren song was accompanied by the promise of an investment of more than 2.5 billion in 25 years. A succulent offer that did not take long to end up in borage water. Specifically, it took Piqué four years and four editions to realize that I could never make profitable such an outlay, breaking the contract in January of this year after some fruitless negotiations with the ITF and leaving the matter in the hands of the courts.
Without Kosmos, but also with hardly any time to react, the ITF he opted to keep the format in 2023 despite it never being well received by the film’s lead actors. And so the first part of the final phase, held in four different venues (Bologna, Valencia, Manchester and Split), with the players on their faces and few spectators in the stands.
In just a couple of days it has gone from US Open which broke its historical record of spectators, with 957,387 in the entire tournamentto a group stage of the Davis Cup that has started with a soulless atmosphere and with several tennis players pointing out who they consider to be the culprit that the longest national team competition in the history of tennis gives the impression of a point of no return.
Wawrinka vs Piqué
“Thank you Gerard Piquéthank you International Tennis Federation“, the winner of three Grand Slams wrote ironically on his Twitter Stan Wawrinkaaccompanying his message with a video that demonstrated the small number of people there were in the AO Arena in Manchesterhome of group B, to watch a match between Switzerland and France. A message that just a few minutes later was seconded by his partner Mardy Fish: “They have killed the Davis Cup.”
— Stanislas Wawrinka (@stanwawrinka) September 12, 2023
It didn’t take long Piqueas is usual with him, in entering the rag, attaching the number of spectators who were in the stands at the 2022 edition: “Last year’s attendance during the group stage. You can compare it yourself, Wawrinka. We don’t organize it anymore, ask the ITF,” he wrote alongside the Number of spectators: 113,268.
“After a bad day on the court, at least this made me laugh! I would love to understand how it is possible that, with the Davis Cup being such a success last year, the agreement of 25 years finished 5 years later…”, replied Wawrinka. It was even harder Julien Benneteaucoach of the French team of the Billie Jean King Cup, the women’s version of the tournament: “How dare you speak? You have killed, along with the ITF, one of the pillars of tennis. At least please shut your mouth “.
Feliciano López defends the format
In the middle of that commotion he came out Feliciano Lopezappointed director of the Davis by the ITF after the disbandment of Kosmos, to defend the product, ensuring that “a lot has been said about the format, but I think we are in a good moment, people are satisfied in general” and affirmed that They had sold “80 percent of the tickets” for the Serbia-Korea of the South that inaugurated the group Cwhich also includes a Spain that cannot count on Carlos Alcaraz due to fatigue.
The reality in the stands was, however, different, not being complete not even close to half the capacity. And although she improved with staging of Spain this Wednesday, especially in the second turn in which he played and lost Alexander Davidovichcontinued far from the full house, leaving López in a bad place, who also defended that the presence of Novak Djokovic with Serbia, “is proof of what this competition is”: “After winning his 24th Grand Slam in it US Open, that he represents his country tells you a lot. It is a clear example of commitment and what the Davis Cup represents”.
It may be so, or it may be that the presence of Djokovic, the only top-10 tennis player present in the four venues, obey other reasons. It escapes no one that the Serbian has marked in red on his calendar the Paris 2024 Olympic Games to attack what is perhaps the only blemish on his vast record: the olympic gold. But in order to represent his country, ITF rules impose that every player who wants to be in the Olympic event must be present in at least one Davis Cup call in 2023 or 2024. And with his participation in Valencia kill at least two birds with one stone.
Spain starts with defeat
Spain made its debut this Wednesday in the first part of the final phase in the Davis Cup, which is being held in Valencia, and it did so with a fast-track defeat. Bernabé Zapata fell to Tomas Machak and Alejandro Davidovich did the same against Jiri Lehecka, Czech Republic taking the point. Now Spain must beat Djokovic’s Serbia tomorrow to maintain its chances of advancing to the final qualifiers.