By Livia Febe. Tennis. Published at Wednesday, April 11th, 2018 - 07:28:30 AM.
Last year, the inaugural Laver Cup, which pitted Team Europe against Team World, generated plenty of buzz. The vast majority of it was positive, and the event was deemed an immediate and overwhelming success. Not surprisingly, many found it impossible not to compare it to the other team competition in men's tennis, the Davis Cup, and suffice it to say, it was not a favorable comparison where the more historic competition was concerned. Whether or not that was the catalyst for change, folks may never know, but it was music to the ears when earlier this week International Tennis Federation President David Haggerty announced that the ITF was on the verge of making some much-needed adjustments to Davis Cup.
Condensing the team competition to a single week is arguably one of the best ways to help put it back in the spotlight as well. As noted, Davis Cup tends to get lost in a crowded tennis calendar, with the focus spread to all corners the globe at various junctures in the season. By assigning it a single week, at a single venue where all the teams will compete, all the attention is directed to that one place in time. As it can travel to different host cities, it also presents an opportunity to bring that magnified focus to areas of the world that field Davis Cup Teams that might not be able to wrangle that level of attention on their own.
Advances in materials, equipment, conditioning and training have increased the pace of today’s game. Players look for any edge over their opponents: every gram counts. Bringing lightness to tennis footwear presents a unique challenge. Players not only need speed, but just as importantly, they also need support.
Both of those solutions boil down to money. Naturally, for many in a 128-player draw, that first round prize money is a big deal, which is why they will show up to play even if they go in knowing they are unfit and may have to pull the plug mid-match. As a concession to that driving factor, players will now be allowed to collect fifty percent if they withdraw after noon on site on Thursday but before the main draw begins. Coupled with this, players who are knowingly unfit to play and still opt to compete could face a fine up to the total amount of their first-round prize money if they fail to finish the match or “perform below professional standards.” Together, these two rules should encourage players to make the smart choice and subsequently improve the overall optics of the sport.
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