The inaugural ATP Cup made quite a debut in Australia, but the team competition followed on just six weeks after the revamped Davis Cup. Is it a hit or a miss?
The Davis Cup has been staged in varying formats since 1900, with the International Tennis Federation and Kosmos Tennis – led by Barcelona defender Gerard Pique, transforming it last year from a tiered, home-and-away series spanning 10 months to a single tournament based in one city (Madrid) with qualifying based on rankings in a 25-year, £2.15bn revamp.
On the other hand, the 24-nation ATP Cup followed the condensed format, but also introduced new initiatives including team zones on the court-side where coaches, captains and team-mates can support the player on the court.
Champions 馃嚪馃嚫 #TeamSerbia 馃弳#ATPCup pic.twitter.com/rMtXb2mBt6
— ATPCup (@ATPCup) January 12, 2020
Spectators have revelled in the atmosphere of the ATP Cup, which was staged in three separate locations around Australia.
“I’ll remember this experience for the rest of my life,” Djokovic said on court after Serbia defeated Spain 2-1 to lift the title. “This is definitely one of the nicest moments in my career.”
Djokovic pocketed $1.57m and 665 ranking points in singles. He may have given the competition the thumbs up, but even he has previously backed the merger of the two team events. Is it confusing fans by staging the ATP Cup and Davis Cup within two months of each other?
— Nenad Zimonji膰 (@nenadzim) January 13, 2020
After playing six singles matches and two doubles matches in 10 days on both the west and east coasts of Australia less than two months after guiding Spain to the Davis Cup title in Madrid, Nadal urged the ITF and the ATP to negotiate to form one world team championship.
“I think (ATP Cup) is a great competition, but at the same time I can’t change my mind that two World Cups in one month is not real. So is not possible,” he said.
“So we need to find a way to fix it and we need to find a way to make a big deal with ITF and ATP to create a big world team cup competition, not two. I think that’s a confusion for the spectators, and we need to be clear in our sport.”
From Great Britain’s perspective, they’ve achieved great things in both competitions. Leon Smith led his Davis Cup team to the semi-finals, while Tim Henman led his side to the quarter-finals of the ATP Cup.
Britain have thrived in team competition and both tournaments have given British No 1 Dan Evans the platform to produce his best tennis as well as a major confidence boost ahead of the Australian Open.
However, Djokovic’s ATP Cup win counts as a career title, while his Davis Cup triumph does not. This has sparked a war of words on social media.
US Davis Cup captain, Mardy Fish, took to Twitter to share his concern regarding the ATP Cup.
He tweeted: “So ATP Cup is worth more than winning a 500 event AND counts for an extra tournament on your ranking AND only 2 players from a country can play???”
Vasek Pospisil, who is part of the ATP Player Council, acknowledged Fish before replying the ranking system is “no longer fair”.
So ATP Cup is worth more than winning a 500 event AND counts for an extra tournament on your ranking AND only 2 players from a country can play??? 馃 馃
— Mardy Fish (@MardyFish) January 12, 2020
The debate prompted a reply by Sergiy Stakhovsky, who resigned from the ATP Player Council last year, criticising the board for “doing whatever they feel like”.
Pablo Andujar declared the tournament “a joke”, and Australian James Duckworth said it was “absolutely ridiculous”.
John Millman, who picked up 70 rankings points and almost $177,000, also believes the point system of the ATP Cup is unfair and has called for equal opportunity for all players to be able to qualify for such a prestigious event.
A world ranking is calculated on a player’s best 18 tournaments but a special clause enables those who played in the ATP Cup to add the additional points. And the world No 47 claims the extra countable tournament is wrong, as is the amount of total points.