The ITF have made several controversial changes to the Davis Cup in conjunction with the Kosmos company
In November next year the competition will see 18 nations compete in a week-long, round-robin tournament, with the inaugural edition taking place either in Madrid or Lille.
The overhaul of the 118-year-old competition was rubber-stamped despite the Lawn Tennis Association, the governing body of British tennis, announcing on Wednesday that it opposed the changes.
ITF President David Haggerty said in a statement: “I am delighted that the nations have voted to secure the long-term status of Davis Cup.
“Our mission is to ensure that this historic decision will benefit the next generation of players for decades to come.”
The ITF outlined the changes in conjunction with Kosmos, a company founded and chaired by Barcelona footballer Gerard Pique.
“Today is a historic day and we are convinced that the agreement ratified by the nations certainly guarantees the future of the Davis Cup and the development of tennis at all levels. I would like to thank ITF President David Haggerty, the ITF Board of Directors and the entire team of ITF professionals for their work with Kosmos over the past few months and welcome a new stage in which we will continue to evolve together. I would also like to congratulate all those who, with their votes, have embraced this change and have seen the momentous decision that was in their hands,” said Pique.
“This is the beginning of a new stage that guarantees the pre-eminent and legitimate place that the Davis Cup should have as a competition for national teams while adapting to the demands of this professional sport at the highest level. It is a great honour for me to be part of this historic process of a sport that I am passionate about and, without a doubt, in both personal and professional terms this is one of the happiest days of my life.”
The Davis Cup is currently played in February, April, September and November at home and away venues.
However, an increasing number of top players have opted not to play in recent years due to the hectic schedule.
From next year the 18 countries will be divided into six groups with each qualifying round consisting of three matches – two singles and one doubles – of best-of-three sets.
The top teams from each group and the two highest-scoring runners-up will play the quarter-finals on the Friday, with the semi-finals on Saturday and the final held on Sunday.
In explaining its decision to vote against the changes, the LTA said in a statement: “Concerns remain that the proposed format and its impact on the tennis calendar, extending the season for players, risks player participation and therefore fan appeal.”
Great Britain, who won the Davis Cup in 2015, face Uzbekistan in a world group play-off in Glasgow next month.
Strong opponents to the reform proposal, Tennis Australia released a statement on Thursday urging the ITF to preserve the legacy of the Davis Cup. It’s worth noting that the Australia governing body have invested in two rivaling team events – the Laver Cup as well as the new ATP World Team Cup set to debut in 2020.
“Tennis Australia is extremely disappointed with the radical changes proposed for the Davis Cup. Reform is vital for the competition but this proposal takes away too much of what makes the Davis Cup unique and special, especially the home and away aspect which has brought elite tennis to so many fans around the world,” read the statement.
“The ITF now has a major responsibility to ensure the great heritage and prestige of the competition is somehow retained in this new version of Davis Cup.”