Gerard Pique Breathes New Life Into Davis CupJake Cooper | 20 Mar 2018
Gerard Pique may be better known for his skills at Barcelona FC and interesting investment opportunities outside of football, but he has now become one of the biggest names in men’s tennis. Headed up by Pique, the investment group Kosmos has partnered with the ITF to revamp the current format of the Davis Cup. The ITF has recently unveiled plans for a $3 billion, 25-year partnership with Kosmos that will see the introduction of an 18-Nation World Cup tennis finals.
A Radical Change in Format
The Davis Cup has served as prestigious event on the men’s tennis calendar for many years. Founded in 1900, the Davis Cup became a World Group style format in 1981 and currently consists of a 16-nation World Group competition that is contested over four weekends throughout the year. Outside of the World Group, the remaining countries are divided into 3 regional zones.
Many of the world’s best players such as Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer have all expressed their concern for the current format of the Davis Cup. Due to scheduling constraints, it is almost impossible for the world’s best players to participate in all four ties throughout the year.
The World Cup of Tennis
The new format will consist of a one-week World Cup style Round Robin system with a total of 18 countries. As such, countries will not be able to host the event and choose the type of playing surface. This will be good for the players but not great for the fans, and could make tennis betting a bit more challenging. While the players can schedule a one-week tournament, fans will have to organise international travel for the event, instead of having the ties played at home.
Each tie in the new format will consist of 2 individual matches (best of 3 sets) and 1 doubles game. The inaugural tournament is set to take place in 2019 with the 16 nations competing in the World Group joined by 2 guest nations. As expected, Spain will be one of the 2 guest teams for the upcoming tournament.
The idea of a World Cup of tennis has been a dream of Gerard Pique since 2015 when he first made contact with the director of the ITF in Barcelona. Pending the approval at the general meeting in August, the proposal will go ahead in 2019, which ITF president David Haggerty has described as a complete game changer for men’s tennis. Scheduled to be played in November, Haggerty has said the idea is to create a season-ending finale that will be a complete festival of tennis with the world’s best players representing their nations.
An Increase in Prize Money and a Drawcard for Bigger Players
The investment of $3 billion will mean a significant increase in prize money that will most certainly lure in the top players who have often chosen to skip out on Davis Cup matches, as their schedules were too busy. The funds will also go into providing funding for grassroots tennis projects and development.
While a major tennis investment may seem strange for Gerard Pique, he certainly has the business sense and resume to back up the deal. The famous footballer who studied business of Entertainment, Media and Sports at Harvard, has shown that he has just as much skill in the business world as on the football field. In 2016, Pique founded a global eSports company called eFootball.Pro. The company recently launched an international league in partnership with Konami.
Pique was also involved in creating and releasing an iMessage app called Daybook, which he co-created with a major Chicago entrepreneur. We also have to realise that it was Pique that was instrumental in bagging a major sponsorship deal for Barcelona with Japanese company Rakuten to replace Qatar Airlines. It was Rakuten’s chairman, Hiroshi Mikitani, who then backed Pique when he launched the investment company Kosmos. Whatever comes next for the Davis Cup is sure to be exciting, especially with Pique leading the charge.