The Davis Cup Finals get underway in Spain in the early hours of tomorrow morning AEDT, commencing in the same week as the FIFA World Cup and finishing just 32 days before the Australian Summer.
An event once regarded so highly in tennis continues to be responsible for its own downfall.
In 2018, Investment group Kosmos and Spanish footballer Gerard Pique commenced a $3 billion, 25-year partnership with the International Tennis Federation to rebrand the declining Davis Cup as the ‘World Cup of Tennis’.
At the time, many took issue with the development, including Aussie John Millman who voiced his concerns with Pique’s plan for the future of the competition.
And now, four years on, the ultimate stage of the event will be held in Malaga, Spain – perfectly coinciding with the commencement of the men’s football World Cup.
All matches will be played under the best-of-three-sets format and just eight countries will be in action, despite the ITF’s plan for eighteen nations to be competing.
Additionally, all ties (quarterfinals, semifinals, and final) will be held in Spain, giving few fans the opportunity to support their country.
And while the format and location are problems themselves, the timing of the event appears the most significant and illogical issue.
The 2022 Davis Cup Finals will be completed on November 27 – just 32 days from the commencement of the United Cup in Australia.
A 32-day off-season for the world’s best male players is remarkably short, particularly given the physically taxing and heavy-travel based nature of professional tennis.
The Davis Cup Finals in late November is a problem in any year, but with the biggest sporting event on the planet commencing in the same week, the scheduling is simply unreasonable.
Seven of the eight nations competing in the Davis Cup Finals will also be in World Cup group stage action, and with FIFA expecting five billion eyes on football, tennis will be far from centre stage.
Furthermore, hosts Spain will contest their opening tie against Croatia at the exact same time as their football team takes on Costa Rica in Qatar – scheduling which is simply hard to believe.
The opportunity to represent your country whilst earning points and prize money will always draw in players, but being held so late in the season is restricting some big names from competing, particularly for the host nation.
Carlos Alcaraz – who would be the focal point of the event, as the new world number one in his first Davis Cup Finals – will miss with an abdominal injury.
Further depleting the Spanish team, Rafael Nadal will not be in action as the 36-year-old focuses on his recovery and preparation ahead of the 2023 Australian Summer.
The likes of Alexander Zverev, Jannik Sinner, and Nick Kyrgios will also not be competing, despite their countries taking part.
The ATP calendar simply needs an overhaul, allowing the Davis Cup to be played in intervals throughout the season and for the ultimate stage to be held before the ATP Finals – as well as local ties to be reinstated for competing nations.
In the meantime, for Aussie tennis and soccer fans, a series of late nights (or early mornings) lay ahead, particularly tommorow morning, with the Australian/Netherlands tie leading into the Socceroos’ opening fixture against France.
One can only assume that Gerard Pique, of all people, knows there are better times to host the Davis Cup Finals than in the opening week of an event which he not only played in, but won, for the host nation.
Davis Cup Finals Schedule:
Australia vs. Netherlands (2am Wednesday morning, AEDT)
Croatia vs. Spain
Italy vs. USA
Germany vs. Canada
Australia or Netherlands vs. Croatia or Spain (2am Saturday morning, AEDT)
Italy or USA vs. Germany or Canada
SF Winner vs. SF Winner
Davis Cup Finals Squads:
Alex De Minaur
Botic Van de Zandschulp
Tim Van Rijthoven
Pablo Carreno Busta
Roberto Bautista Agut