tennisAt the Davis Cup, this “monument” is in danger
Three years later, the new Formula Kosmos version of this historic competition is still not unanimous, far from it.
Three years after its launch, the new Davis Cup is still struggling to find its place: in the absence of most of the big names on the circuit, crowds in the stands were sparse and the atmosphere in the four cities that hosted the group stage somber.
The format of the famous national team competition, more than a hundred years old, was abolished in 2019 after the takeover of its organizational rights by the company Kosmos, supported in particular by Barcelona footballer Gerard Piqué.
Finishing the four rounds that stretch from February to December, finishing the matches in five sets, also finishing the duels nation against nation to one of the opponents, pledges of an often fiery atmosphere, the famous atmosphere “Davis Cup”.
The new formula, already modified since its inception, much more complicated than the historical one, this year is the following: a first elimination round, then a group stage in four cities and finally the final stage in a single venue, this year in Malaga Spain (22-27 June). . November) in quarter, half and end format. Switzerland play the first round of the play-offs in Ecuador to defend their place in the world group.
The aim was to regain media and fan interest, which had long dwindled due to the lack of participation from the world’s best, put off by the competition stretching for too long. But it is clear that the organizers missed their target.
A sparse audience
Many big names abstained this week, injured (Rafael Nadal), still too fair (Alexander Zverev or Stan Wawrinka) or for other reasons (Novak Djokovic, Nick Kyrgios, Marin Cilic…)
The group stage, now spread across four groups and four cities (Glasgow, Bologna, Valencia, Hamburg), with 16 teams instead of 18 in 2021, took place in relative media anonymity, not helped of course by the retirement of legend Roger Federer.
The spectators weren’t too worried either, as we saw and heard on Tuesday in the first game between Australia and Belgium, which was played in Hamburg in a very sombre atmosphere. Even in the duel between Germany and France on Wednesday, the grandstands were far from full, only a few thousand people had paid the high entrance fee (around 60 francs).
“I was shocked when I saw the price of the ticket,” said German Jan-Lennard Struff after beating Frenchman Benjamin Bonzi on Wednesday. “It was absolutely understandable that few fans came because it’s just too expensive. It’s a shame,” he added.
The concentration of the late-night games during the week also played a role: in Glasgow, the spectators had to leave the stands before the end of the decisive doubles game between the British and the Americans on Tuesday after the match ended around 1 a.m. local time.
However, at the sporting level, the players were not unworthy and sometimes offered high-flying opponents. Félix Augier-Aliassime thus caused the surprise by defeating new world No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz, who had just won the title at the US Open, allowing Canada to dominate Spain in Valencia after a crucial doubles match. Other encounters also fueled the tension until the end of the doubles: France-Germany, Netherlands-Great Britain…
The passage of the groups from four teams to three had an advantage: the end of last year’s scientific calculations to determine the top two seconds among the six groups. But the format still has inconsistencies, like these encounters without the slightest challenge, played after the teams have been eliminated (Belgium-France on Saturday, Great Britain-Kazakhstan on Sunday), or the unequal calendar where some teams are beaten by one Day off also benefit before crucial meetings.
A lack that will not exist in the final stages in Malaga, where we are counting on the Spanish public to give impetus again to this endangered sporting monument.
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