(ATR) Changes to the venerable Davis Cup face a vote by the International Tennis Federation.
Nearly 200 delegates will decide the fate of reforms when they meet in Orlando Thursday on the final day of the ITF annual meeting.
For federation president David Haggerty, it could be the biggest day in his long career in tennis. He has campaigned for the changes and says he is optimistic ahead of the vote.
"It's an excellent project," he tells Around the Rings on the eve of the vote.
The ITF board is proposing to condense the competition that now runs an entire year to a world final of only days. Making the event more attractive to the star players and the public is the rationale says Haggerty.
Marketing revenue is also a motivation. The new Davis Cup, is backed by a multimillion-dollar commitment by investment group Kosmos. The Spanish footballer Gerard Piqué is among its founders. He’ was expected at the Ritz Carlton where the closed-door meetings are taking place.
Haggerty tells ATR that "the most important thing" for ITF and its member countries is that with the new format there will be an immediate investment of $25 million for the development of tennis in the world.
Haggerty revealed that within two weeks after the vote a decision will be made over which of the two cities, Lille and Madrid will launch the first "world end" of the Davis Cup in 2019.
Haggerty confirmed the interest of American software entrepreneur Larry Ellison in the final of 2021 for Indian Wells, California.
"But nothing has yet been decided ... There are also other areas of the world interested," he said. The ITF president did not rule out South America as the venue for the fourth final in 2022.
IOC President Thomas Bach, himself a tennis playerof some repute, has lent his support to the changes in a recorded message on the second day of the assembly.
"We maintain an excellent relationship with President Bach," Haggerty told ATR during a break in the meeting. "We were together at the last Wimbledon women's final. We talked a lot about tennis and the possible changes in the Davis Cup,"
"Indeed, today he sent a message of support to these reforms, and welcomed all delegates," Haggerty said. Haggerty, former president of the USTA, is ITF’s 30th president. He was elected two years ago.
Delegatesfrom different regions of the world confirm to ATR that there is a consensus on the need for changes in the format of the competition as it reaches its centennial.
Haggerty praised the nomination to the IOC of Paraguayan Camilo Pérez, president of the South American Tennis Confederation.
"He is a very influential sports leader and a good leader. His entry into the IOC, to be approved, will benefit tennis a lot," says Haggerty.
Perez is one of nine individuals nominated for IOC seats who will be confirmed in October at the IOC Session in Buenos Aires.
Once confirmed, Perez will give the ITF a direct connection to the IOC that’s been missing since Francesco Ricci Biti left two years ago. The Italian sports leader turned 70, leading to his retirement from the IOC just as his final term as ITF president ended.
Footballer Pique was expected Wednesday night at the Ritz. Kosmos executive director Javier Alonso told ATR that the star and his equally famous spouse of musical acclaim both love the game.
"Piqué is a tennis lover just like his wife Shakira. Both play very often," he said.
He said that for a few years Piqué has wanted to make the Davis Cup an attractive tournament like a Soccer World Cup final.
On Thursday Piqué hopes to score a goal.
Reported in Orlando by Miguel Hernandez.