By Sudipto Ganguly
MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Tennis chiefs are committed to merging the Davis Cup and ATP Cup into a single men’s world team event and concrete plans could be in place by June, International Tennis Federation (ITF) President David Haggerty said.
The newly revamped Davis Cup, the ITF’s flagship men’s event, took place at the end of last year and was followed just six weeks later by the inaugural ATP Cup, run by the men’s tour.
But there was near consensus among leading players that it made little sense to have two men’s team competitions on the calendar.
“We are talking to the ATP, we’ve heard the players’ comments, we know that the ATP has as well,” Haggerty said in an interview at the Australian Open in Melbourne.
“It would make sense to have one event that could be the team event for the men,” he said. “We’re having discussions and we’ll see what happens.
“The vision to me seems to be having one strong event and we’re very open to that conversation.”
While Haggerty was re-elected as ITF President in September, men’s tour chief Chris Kermode – one of the driving forces behind the ATP Cup – has been ousted. He was replaced in the New Year by Italians Andrea Gaudenzi and Massimo Calvelli as chairman and chief executive respectively.
Haggerty said meetings had already taken place and the new ATP leadership was “very definitely” open about having a single annual men’s team event.
“Our goal is over the next few months that we have some serious discussions and see if there’s some alignment,” Haggerty said.
“I’d say by Roland Garros, Wimbledon, yeah, that sort of timing. A lot will depend on what it would look like, but I think that if the parties are open to looking at various possibilities, anything is possible. I’m an optimist by nature.
“We just have to have those conversations and how we work together. A lot of times, it’s not just about the money, it’s about the schedule for the players, it’s about having more of an off-season.
“Tennis is committed to having these conversations and trying to come up with the best formula.”
The new Davis Cup format was bankrolled by a $3 billion, 25-year partnership with Kosmos, the Barcelona-based investment company owned by soccer player Gerard Pique.
Both Pique and Novak Djokovic, the multiple Grand Slam champion and president of the ATP’s Player Council, have been united in saying that the two events cannot co-exist.
“Kosmos are a part of that conversation and they’re very willing to have the conversation about one team event,” the 62-year-old American said.
Haggerty said that while the ITF was “very happy” with the inaugural edition of the reworked Davis Cup in Madrid in November, there was always room for improvement.
“I think it was a good start. Not perfect, nothing is,” he said.
“I think we have a good foundation upon which to build things that we’re looking at to improve the competition, such as scheduling.”
(This story was refiled to correct spelling of Kosmos in paragraph 15)
(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; editing by Neil Fullick)