Davis Cup: Bhupathi pushes to keep home, away format

Davis Cup: Bhupathi pushes to keep home, away format

Indian Davis Cup team captain Mahesh Bhupathi feels the home and away challenge is what draws players to the Davis Cup. DH FILE PHOTO

A three billion dollar deal is too big to ignore as authorities target revamp of the Davis Cup but doing away with the home and away format is not "ideal" since it is the DNA of the competition, said India's captain Mahesh Bhupathi.

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) will put to test a proposal to create a season-ending World Cup of Tennis, featuring 18 nations.

The matches will be played over a week at a single venue in the traditional week of Davis Cup final in November, abolishing the home and away format for ties in the elite World Group.

The idea, approved by the ITF Board of Directors, will be put to vote in August in Orlando and needs two-thirds majority to become a reality.

The revamp idea has come after the ITF struck a deal with investment group Kosmos, founded and run by Spanish international and FC Barcelona footballer Gerard Pique. It is expected to pump in USD three billion into the tournament in a 25-year period.

It's being speculated that sponsors and corporate lobbies are putting pressure on the ITF to get more top players to participate in Davis Cup. There are instances when top players, in the wake of an already crammed schedule, have skipped ties.

Bhupathi said, Davis Cup was still "relevant".

"Davis Cup is special and all the top players have committed to it at some point. Like every sport, tennis needs to be driven by innovation and revenue and if there is a three billion dollar opportunity there is no way it can be ignored regardless of the sentiment," Bhupathi told PTI.

"Top players always play for their country when they are fit and healthy. A case in point is Rafa (Rafael Nadal) who just played even when he missed Indian Wells and Miami (Masters events). It's not about Davis Cup. If a player is injured or tired they miss the biggest events in the world as well like you saw at the London Masters few years in a row," he argued.

However, Bhupathi, winner of 12 Grand Slam titles, said doing away with the home and away ties is not a great idea.

"It will not be ideal because playing at home and dealing with the challenges in away ties is part of the Davis Cup DNA that makes the competition exciting," Bhupathi said.

The tennis world is split on the issue with some of the top players such as Nadal voicing their support for it while a few like Nicolas Mahut, Greg Rusedski and Todd Woodbdrige saying it will kill the very essence of the tournament.

India's top player Yuki Bhambri differed from his captain and said having a World Cup was not a bad idea.

"If it is a World Cup then yes, doing away with home and away format, is okay," Yuki, a key member of Indian team, said.

"Everyone has opinion. Some say it might benefit some say it won't. I think a lot more ATP points need to be added and it always helps to increase the prize money," Yuki made his point.


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