ATP Cup: How will big-money event co-exist with Davis Cup finals?
Last Updated: 14/11/19 6:47pm
Just days before the launch of the revamped Davis Cup finals next week, tennis is also preparing to welcome another team competition – the ATP Cup - to the schedule. But for how long can both competitions co-exist and could they, in fact, merge?
The inaugural ATP Cup is set to feature nine of the top 10 players in the world when the newest team competition marks the start of the 2020 season.
The big-money event, which was announced during the season-ending ATP Finals last year, will begin within six weeks of the conclusion of next week's Davis Cup finals in Madrid.
The ATP Cup will feature 24 teams in a group format and will be held in Brisbane, Perth and Sydney, with players vying for both ranking points and prize money - a unique characteristic among team events.
Only Roger Federer from the world's top 10 has opted out of the competition, which will be staged from January 3-12 in the build-up to the Australian Open.
Meanwhile, the new format of the International Tennis Federation-run Davis Cup, boosted by investment from Barcelona defender Gerard Pique's investment group Kosmos, will have its first staging at the Caja Magica.
The 119-year-old Davis Cup has been restructured into an 18-nation competition split into six groups of three teams across a week-long finals week.
Reservations remain about the timing of the ATP Cup and for how long both competitions can maintain their place in an already congested schedule.
Outgoing ATP president and chief executive Chris Kermode, who was integral behind the launch of the ATP Cup, urged for the sport's politics to be put to one side on Thursday.
"I ask you, I know there is lots of talk about tennis politics and all of that sort of stuff, but please get behind this event," Kermode said at a press conference to mark 50 days to go to the ATP Cup.
"I genuinely believe we are all in this business together, trying to sell our sport."
Andy Murray, who will feature at the Davis Cup finals, will also compete at the ATP Cup next year, after he put aside his own reservations about the event to use his protected ranking of world No 2 to enable Great Britain to field a side.
Great Britain have been drawn in Group C of the ATP Cup alongside Bulgaria, Belgium and Moldova, with former British No 1 Tim Henman confirmed as captain, rather than Davis Cup captain Leon Smith.
Boris Becker was announced as captain of Germany and joined fellow former world No 1s Thomas Muster and Marat Safin, who will lead Austria and Russia respectively, in highlighting the merits of the ATP Cup.
"Tennis is in a very good place right now. The fact that we have so many new competitions speaks for the interests, speaks for the image and the quality of the players we have," Becker said.
There is already a third team competition which has emerged in the men's game in the Laver Cup, which is held shortly after the US Open, but Becker is convinced by the ATP Cup, which carries 750 ranking points.
"This format gives players a chance to, in one way, represent their country, another way start the year off with a big bang," Becker added.
Alexander Zverev has decided to skip the Davis Cup finals and instead opted to feature in exhibition events with Federer - something which Muster argues adds further credence to the belief the ATP Cup's position in the schedule will ensure it attracts the best players.
"That sort of brings back to the conclusion of why certain players are not playing at the end of the year at Davis Cup final," the 1995 French Open champion said.
"It's just because it's late in the season, and players are tired and they have played a lot, and there is not much time between now and the new start of the season."
ITF president David Haggerty insisted last year he could imagine the new ATP Cup and the revamped Davis Cup joining forces in the future, something world No 1 Rafael Nadal called for at the Paris Masters last month.
Nadal said: "My feeling is we need to create one big, big competition to stay together. ITF, ATP, that's a good opportunity to make that happen and we need to make that happen."
Becker admitted having two premier men's team competitions in the calendar next season was not the "perfect scenario", but refused to speculate on what might be the best solution.
"I'm not responsible for the Davis Cup format, and I'm not responsible for the Laver Cup, either," he said.