The International Tennis Federation’s AGM meets in August to vote—and it will require a two-thirds majority—on whether the century-old tournament will move from four knock-out rounds played over four weekends through the year to a single week-long jamboree of round-robin and knock-out rounds at the end of the season. The proposals also include moving from the traditional best-of-five-set format to best of three sets.
The news release from the ITF explained:
“Under the plans, the World Cup of Tennis Finals will be played over seven days in November in the traditional week of the Davis Cup final. The Finals will feature a round-robin format followed by a quarter-final knockout stage. Each tie will consist of two singles and one doubles over best-of-three sets. The 16 World Group nations will automatically qualify for the Finals, and a further two nations will be selected.
“There will also be a play-off round held during the Finals which will include the eight nations that qualify from the Zone Group I events. The eight play-off winners will earn a place in the following year’s Finals.”
The ITF hopes to launch the new-shape Davis Cup in 2019 and at one pre-selected venue: no more ‘home or away’ ties.
If those changes are approved, this September’s showdown—the semi-finals that will determine 2018’s finalists, and the World Group play-offs between existing elite nations and the winners of Zone 1 groups—may be the last of its kind.
In which case, emotions are likely to run even higher than usual for the fortunate nations that play at home with the support of their fans for the last time.
Who, then, are the ones that will enjoy this patriotic boost in September?
In the semi-finals, 10-time and defending champions France and 2005 champions Croatia will have home advantage over Spain and the USA respectively.
All four nations, along with the four losing nations in the World Group quarter-finals—Italy, Germany, Kazakhstan and Belgium—will remain in the World Group for 2019.
They will be joined by the winners of the following ties between those who lost in the first round of World Group competition this February, and the winners of Zone 1 Groups. The latter comprise:
Europe/Africa: Czech Republic, Sweden, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Austria
Asia/Oceania: India, Uzbekistan
Americas: Argentina, Colombia
Seeds in brackets; first nation plays at home
Argentina (1) vs Colombia
Great Britain (2) vs Uzbekistan
Austria vs Australia (3)
Switzerland (4) vs Sweden
Serbia (5) vs India
Canada (6) vs Netherlands
Hungary vs Czech Republic (7)
Japan (8) vs Bosnia/Herzegovina
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