(ATR) The new Davis Cup is a reality. This week in Madrid, the 119-year-old tournament reappears with a new face.
"It's a historic day for tennis," Paraguay's Camilo Pérez tells Around the Rings from the Spanish capital. He is the only member of the International Olympic Committee within the brand-new board of the International Tennis Federation.
The venue is the Caja Mágica, a complex with three clay courts equipped with mobile roofs. Since 2009 it has hosted the Madrid Open. And as a palpable fact of this support, one of the main lines of the Madrid Metro now has ads on its walls with the names of the participating players.
One by one the members of the 18 countries selected under this revolutionized format came out for the opening ceremony.
Spain, Serbia, Germany, Great Britain, France, Italy, Japan, Croatia, Russia, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Kazakhstan, Belgium, Australia, Holland, States United and Canada are the teams represented in Madrid.
The teams will distribute $20 million in prizes, including $3.5 million for the winner. The Japanese company Rakuten is the biggest sponsor of the tournament. FC Barcelona is on board as a long term sponsor. The Madrid City Council and the Community of Madrid will each contribute almost $5 million.
Famous Spanish footballer Gerard Piqué is the head of investment firm Kosmos which holds the rights from the International Tennis Federation. The ITF adopted the new format for the cup a year ago.
"I like to think big and our idea from the beginning is to put this competition where it deserves, and maybe create an event longer than a week," said Piqué.
It can almost be said that the renewed Davis Cup 2019 is the first major accomplishment for ITF president David Haggerty, re-elected in September to a second term.
The U.S. has won the Davis Cup the most times, with 32 titles, runner-up 29 times. Spain, led by world number one Rafael Nadal, is a favorite at home with Novak Djokovic and Serbia also in the mix.
As president of the South American Tennis Confederation, Camilo Pérez will follow the action of the three teams from his region, Argentina, Chile and Colombia. He says this new Davis Cup "will mark a milestone". Camilo Pérez reiterated to ATR his intent to take advantage of his presence in Madrid to help promote development projects for South American tennis in all categories.
Reported by Miguel Hernandez.