(ATR) The International Tennis Federation has chosen the Spanish capital to stage the first two editions in 2019 and 2020.
The week-long Davis Cup finals, consisting of 18 teams, will take place at La Caja Magica, which currently hosts the Madrid Open, in November 2019. La Caja Mágica and the WiZink Center are both being considered to stage the 2020 event.
Controversial plans to revamp the 118-year-old competition – one of the sport’s biggest shake-ups for years – were approved at the ITF’s congress in Florida last month. It replaces the existing format of four weekends of home and away Davis Cup ties.
It's part of a 25-year, $3 billion partnership with investment group Kosmos, which is founded by founded by Barcelona and Spain international footballer Gerard Pique. The group is backed by Hiroshi Mikitani, chairman and CEO of Rakuten, the Tokyo-based e-commerce company.
ITF President David Haggerty said Madrid was "a fitting location to stage the highest quality tennis and great entertainment for thousands of fans from all over the world.
"We look forward to working with the city to realise our ambitions of elevating the Davis Cup to a new level."
The Davis Cup steering committee has also awarded two wild cards for the 2019 finals to Argentina and Great Britain, where they will be joined by the four semi-finalists of the 2018 competition – Croatia, France, Spain, USA – and the 12 winners of the 2019 qualifiers to be held in February.
The new-look Davis Cup Finals will take place in a group-stage format over the first four days, with the countries divided into six groups of three teams. Each tie will consist of three matches – two singles and one doubles – of best-of-three sets.
The six group winners and the two second-placed teams with the best records will qualify for the knock-out quarter-finals. The teams placed 5th to 16th will compete in the following year’s qualifiers, while the teams placed 17th and 18th will be relegated to their respective Zone Groups.
In recent months, Haggerty has labeled the Davis Cup facelift as "a complete game-changer for the ITF and for tennis", saying it would generate substantial revenues for global tennis development.
He has said the revamp would benefit players and nations, partly by fulfilling the needs for Olympic qualification, offering significant increases in prize money and funding grassroots projects and other tennis development programs.
Reported by Mark Bisson
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