The clash between the ATP Tour and the International Tennis Federation over the launch of the newly-formatted Davis Cup and World Team Cup is drawing to a climax and one of tennis biggest names has aimed an untimely dig at the ATP ahead of arguably their biggest announcement of the year.
Both of tennis governing bodies are continuing to fight it out for supremacy in team competitions, with Davis Cup 2.0 – the brainchild of Barcelona centre-back Gerard Pique – and the ATPs new event set to take place within six weeks of each other at the end of 2019 and the start of 2020.
The ATP will flesh out details of their tournament on Thursday. The World Team Cup is set to have the advantage of offering ranking points and it will suit players far more in terms of the calendar, being placed ahead of the Australian Open.
But world No. 1 Novak Djokovic once again raised his concerns over the future of the competition ahead of the big announcement.
Obviously the Davis Cup and World Team Cup situation is delicate, he said after beating Alexander Zverev 6-4 6-1. We find ourselves in this kind of particular circumstances and situations that we have to deal with right now.
I think in the next two years well have both events happening in a very similar format if not the same, six weeks apart. Whether I think thats good for our sport, I honestly dont think its good for the sport.
More job opportunities for players, yes. But I think its not sustainable. It will happen that we will have two average events. So I think creating one event is an ideal scenario and I think outcome for everyone.
From what Ive heard from conversations with people from all of the sides, different sides in this sport, they all want to have one event because its over-saturated with different cups, different events.
We have the longest season in all sports. Were just adding events. We kind of have to try to focus on quality rather than quantity.
The dynamic at the ATP Finals has certainly been one of intrigue, with the question of conflict of interest among governing bodies and Roger Federer on the lips of many in the vicinity at the O2.
Djokovic will be sat alongside one of the main protagonists at the ATPs media conference on Thursday, with Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley joining ATP chief Chris Kermode to answer questions.
And while greed and undue influence has been hot on the agenda, Djokovic insisted that those in positions of power in tennis are well intentioned in their desire to grow the sport, although he questioned the structure of the ATP.
Well, I dont necessarily think money is the driving factor, the Serb added. It might appear so. In a certain situation, obviously yes. But as president of the council, Ive had the opportunity to meet with the most powerful people in our sport in the last couple of years. Obviously with players, get a lot of opinions.
I think majority really cares about this sport deeply, whoever is involved. Sometimes our differences get in the way. ATP, ITF, theyre two different independent associations, federations. Then you have obviously Grand Slams that operate independently, as well, as a separate entity.
Its not as easy. Thats how the system has been created and has been functioning for so many years. So we have to try to work with it, as well. You know, there are many interested sides. Is not as simple as just lets pull the trigger and make this happen or this radical move within a month. It doesnt work that way. There are members, constituents, boards. Everything has to be voted.
Whether I think the structure of the ATP specifically can be better, I actually do. I dont think its working very well, to be honest. Its a slow process. But at the same time I can definitely say from my own experience of being in the players council earlier in my career, and now again for last four years, that this last players council group has been very active, proactive, in terms of communicating with each other, in terms of caring about everything that is going in the sport.
The involvement of Tennis Australia and the United States Tennis Association (USTA) in the organisation of the Laver Cup – the brainchild of Federer – has also drawn criticism for its impact on tennis as a whole and while Djokovic praised the early success of the exhibition event, he questioned the over-saturated team competition field.
Obviously Laver Cup is not an official competition, he added. It doesnt have the points.
But it has to be regarded as a very successful, very serious competition that attracts a lot of attention. I watched it on TV last year. I was part of it this year.
I can definitely say it has attracted a lot of success and attention. So far its been the only competition that can actually get the biggest rivals in sport in one team. That was a very unique experience.
So, yeah, I mean, this part of the year after the Grand Slam season is done, you have post US Open, Laver Cup, then Davis Cup, World Team Cup first week of the year. Its really over-saturated. Within three, four months, its too many events.
Well have to work it out. But we have to start from somewhere.