After the premature end of the contract signed with Kosmos, several major tennis players have promised to support the Davis Cup, whose qualifying matches start on Friday, but a great vagueness still hovers over the right formula to adopt to restore the image of the competition. .
“The sauce did not take … we all knew it was going to happen. We would have liked to be wrong so that the Davis Cup did not die, but the starting ingredients were not the right ones”, estimated Tuesday with AFP Arnaud Clément, former captain of the France team.
Five years after the signing of a 3 billion dollar contract, initially planned to last a quarter of a century, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) put an end to its partnership with the Spanish group on January 12, and resumed on his own account the organization of the Davis Cup.
If the official causes of the divorce between the ITF and the investment company chaired by the former Spanish footballer Gerard Pique have not been communicated, a source familiar with the matter confided that the two parties had failed to find an agreement financial.
“This contract was a lot of smoke and mirrors: promises of money for the nations and the players but, behind, at no time did we talk about the athlete”, regretted Wednesday with AFP the president of the French Tennis Federation (FFT), Gilles Moretton, who welcomed the news with “relief”.
– “The right format” –
Wishing to revitalize an event more than a century old, Kosmos had proposed a revisited Davis Cup formula from 2019.
Gone are the four rounds stretching from February to December, the matches in five sets and the duels between national teams, at home or away, in an overexcited atmosphere.
The new format, which has continued to be modified at the margins year after year, has struggled to seduce the players and, above all, the spectators… like the sparse stands during the group stage. past year.
“The Davis Cup was played in the most complete anonymity. After such a failure, the turn must be very marked to go up the slope because rehabilitation will not be easy”, worries Arnaud Clément. “We’ll have to find the right format.”
From there to imagine a return to the past? “What’s a shame is that the Davis Cup actually needed to evolve. It took the players a lot of time every year,” said Clément.
– A future in question –
At this stage, nothing has been decided, but several avenues would be considered for the next editions, including the possibility of returning to home/away matches during the group stages and of organizing the competition over two or even three years, to better space out meetings.
“We have to protect the heritage of our sport and the Davis Cup is one of those legacies. We will have to sit around the table with the ATP and the ITF, think about the future of this competition. there is no miracle solution, but a desire to build,” said Gilles Moretton.
In the blur, the team competition will be able to count on weight supports. “The Grand Slam tournaments are united in their support of the Davis Cup competition,” the organizers of the four tournaments wrote, wishing “to see it restored to a premier event,” in a statement released two weeks after the end. of the Cosmos adventure.
The ITF welcomed the stance, saying it was “looking forward to further conversations” with the Grand Slam committee. For its part, the Kosmos group said it had filed a complaint with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) for “unjustified breach” of the contract.
By the end of the year, nothing will change in any case for the Blues, who face Hungary in the best of three matches in Tatabánya until Saturday. If they win, Sébastien Grosjean’s men will qualify for a group stage in September, before a possible eight-team final draw in November in Malaga (Spain).