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After $3 Billion “Four-Year Disaster” Contract, Davis Cup Likely To Become Exciting Again

Puranjay Dixit

After $3 Billion "Four-Year Disaster" Contract, Davis Cup Likely To Become Exciting Again

The 2023 Davis Cup Final 8 stage is underway in Malaga, Spain and will crown a new champion on November 26. However, the future of the prestigious tennis event remains uncertain. This was likely the last year of the revamped Davis Cup format, which was introduced after the International Tennis Federation’s deal with Kosmos. The contract was terminated in January this year, and the competition could revert to its older framework next season onwards.

The ITF and Kosmos, an investment group headed by former Barcelona soccer star Gerard Pique, penned a 25-year contract worth $3 billion in 2018. The deal aimed to transform the Davis Cup and increase revenue generation globally. The historic format of the team tournament changed following the partnership to make it more suitable for TV audiences.

Before Kosmos came in, the Davis Cup was played throughout the year across multiple weekends. Each match was in a different city, the home ground of one of the teams, and had five best-of-five ties. Pique’s company made the tournament into a World Cup of sorts from 2019 onwards. 18 teams competed in one city for a week-long climax to the season. Even this structure met with frequent tweaks. In 2023, 16 teams split into four groups played a round-robin phase in one week in September. Eight qualified to play the ongoing Final 8 stage in November. All matches were squeezed down to three best-of-three ties, which meant all fixtures ended in a day instead of being spread over a weekend.

The new format failed to endear audiences like Kosmos and ITF would have hoped. The two parties also ran into some payment disputes. Ultimately, the governing body pulled the plug in 2023, just four years after the ‘revamped’ Davis Cup debuted. The Spanish company responded by filing a $50 million lawsuit for wrongful termination.

Most players and coaches favor the older format. Former World No.1 and current Australia captain Lleyton Hewitt branded the new version a ‘four-year disaster’. Germany player Alexander Zverev, meanwhile, called for the previous format to be reinstated. The ITF seemed to understand what everyone wanted and accordingly terminated the deal. While there are no formal announcements yet, the historic and much-liked Davis Cup could be back in 2024.

Davis Cup mishandling affected player participation and popularity

The Davis Cup continued largely unchanged since its inception in 1900 till Kosmos showed up in 2019. Currently, the Final 8 stage is ongoing in Malaga, Spain. This is another complaint the new format has received. A major chunk of the tournament now happens in the Iberian nation, where Pique hails from.

Four different cities hosted the round-robin stage in September, with each group playing in one location. While the home team’s matches attracted some viewership, neutral team games saw extremely sparse attendance. Moreover, all matches of tie scheduled for a single day meant many clashes went on until late in the night. Not to forget, all this began two days after the US Open concluded. Now, the Final 8 stage is again happening only a couple of days after the ATP Finals. Both the finalists, Novak Djokovic and Jannik Sinner, will be playing with barely hours of rest.

The complicated schedule and unpopular new format saw many star players give the event a miss. The Davis Cup, once the most illustrious tournament in tennis, is gradually losing its sheen and importance due to such chaotic mismanagement. Carlos Alcaraz, Sinner, etc. skipped the first round in September which also affected viewer interest. Fans and the tennis fraternity will hope that reverting to the older format solves these issues to an extent and that the Davis Cup becomes a loved competition once more.

About the author

Puranjay Dixit

Puranjay Dixit


Puranjay is a Tennis Journalist at The SportsRush. He has written more than 300 articles on the sport. Ask him anything about tennis and he is ready to come up with well-crafted answers. He has been following tennis ever since his parents introduced him to the game when he was 10. His favourite player may be Rafael Nadal, but ask him who's the GOAT, and he'll say, Novak Djokovic. He may be pursuing a degree in an unrelated field, but creating quality sports content remains his first love.

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