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Tennis chiefs plan revamp of the Davis, Fed Cup finals

Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro (right) shakes hands with Briton Andy Murray during the Davis Cup semi-finals, in Glasgow, last week. Argentina won the tie to reach the final.

Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro (right) shakes hands with Briton Andy Murray during the Davis Cup semi-finals, in Glasgow, last week. Argentina won the tie to reach the final.

Tennis chiefs plan to adopt the American NFL’s Super Bowl model in future, by selecting fixed-venue cities in advance for their showcase Davis and Fed Cup finals.

The switch away from one of the finalists hosting the decider is part of a broader strategy aimed at developing the men’s and women’s international team events.

“This is all part of our mission to make the appeal of tennis broad and wide,” International Tennis Federation president David Haggerty told Reuters.

Other options under consideration include a tweak of formats to reduce the length of matches, and expanding the top-tier Federation Cup competition to feature 16 nations.

Haggerty, elected president a year ago, hopes to have the new hosting system in place by 2018.

“Davis Cup is 135 nations,” Haggerty said.

“This is a way to unlock potential revenue which will help grassroots tennis.”

Speaking at his Roehampton office, in a suburban district of south-west London, Haggerty did not name a figure cities would have to come up with to host the final, but said he thought it would be “significant”.

“We’re waiting for cities to distinguish themselves,” he smiled.

“And we’ll see what it is. I don’t want to prejudge what it might be in future.”

The ITF membership will vote on the plans next August.

In American football’s Super Bowl, the host city is selected well in advance, usually three-to-five years before the game. Similarly, UEFA selects the host city for soccer’s Champions League final two years in advance.

Haggerty said he hoped to see cities, federations and their sponsors come together to bid for 2018.

“The most likely scenario would be for two-to-three-year terms,” said the American who won a four-year presidential spell in 2015.

“Right now we know who are in the finals but we don’t know where it is going to be.”

Croatia will host Argentina for the 2016 Davis Cup title after winning their respective semi-finals. But a host city has yet to be named.

“It is really hard to plan and get viewership and fans excited,” Haggerty said of the current format.

“If you have a fixed site, people can begin to plan and look ahead.

“Last year we had a fantastic final in Ghent. But the reality is, Britain could have sold out the (13,000-capacity) stadium. Belgium could have sold it out, too.”

In the women’s competition, Haggerty is eager to introduce an expanded Fed Cup top group, and introduce a “Final Four” format.

“We are going to spend the next nine months working with players, with our nations, talking about other possibilities, such as formats.

“Should it be in Davis Cup two out of three sets, or three out of five? It could be looking at a two-day format.”

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