New Fed Cup finals format launched by International Tennis Federation
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 27/06/19 4:21pm
A new 12-team Fed Cup finals will take place in Budapest in April 2020, the International Tennis Federation has announced.
The 'World Cup of Tennis' format will see a total of 20 nations battle it out for the overall title, with eight qualifying ties set to start during February.
Those qualifying fixtures will be played on a home-and-away basis, over the best of five matches, with the winners going on to join 2019 Fed Cup finalists Australia and France, the hosts Hungary and one wildcard country.
Great Britain defeated Kazakhstan in April to win their Fed Cup World Group II play-off and secure promotion.
With the change in format, Anne Keothavong's squad face a qualifying tie if they are to reach the inaugural finals which will take place on clay at the Laszlo Papp Budapest Sports Arena.
The new Fed Cup finals, which will be held at the same venue until 2022, will see a round-robin format with four groups of three teams, followed by semi-finals and a final.
All matches will consist of two singles and one doubles, played from April 14-19.
The leading two countries will be guaranteed a place in the following year's finals, with those finishing third to 10th entering the qualifiers.
As a result of the changes, the Fed Cup will be reduced to two weeks of competition within the existing calendar slot for the current tournament.
The total prize fund will be $18 million dollars, with $12 million going to the players and the remainder to the participating national associations.
The current regional group events will remain unchanged, the ITF confirmed, with the number of nations qualifying from the Group I events for the play-offs having doubled from four to eight.
There will also be an additional $4.9 million for nations competing below the elite level of the competition.
The Fed Cup, founded in 1963, is the largest annual international team competition in women's sport, with 108 nations having entered in 2019. The bold reforms will follow on from those made by the Davis Cup men's tournament.
"The launch of the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Finals will create a festival of tennis that elevates this flagship women's team competition to a new level, yet remains loyal to the historic core of the Fed Cup," said ITF president David Haggerty
"We have consulted and listened to stakeholders and worked with the WTA and its player council to make sure the new format represents the interests of the players.
"We pledged to our national associations during the 2018 AGM that we would introduce reforms that will grow the competition's global audience and enable greater investment into the future of the sport.
"We believe this bold new Fed Cup format delivers this pledge."
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