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Tennis | Davis Cup

Francesco Ricci Bitti © Gallo Images

Davis Cup just fine as it is - ITF boss



The Davis Cup continues to go from strength to strength, with no real need for changing the rules or the format, one of the game's top administrators said on Sunday as the Davis final between the Czech Republic and Spain wrapped up play.

"Davis Cup in our opinion is attractive enough, as you have seen here this weekend. We don't need so much to worry about the attractiveness of the competition," said ITF boss Francesco Ricci Bitti, speaking at the introduction of an American market-led initiative to be dubbed World Tennis Day next March 4.

The celebration of the game is conveniently tied into an exhibition in New York on that day which will feature Victoria Azarenka playing Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal versus Juan Del Potro, plus what orgnisers promise will be wall-to-wall television converge of inaugural World Tennis Day activities.

While not specifically addressing growing calls from various quarters for the annual Davis Cup to be reduced to once every other year like Ryder Cup golf to reduce time demands on players, Ricci Bitti added:

"There is obviously a Davis Cup Committee that is considering all the time continuously, all input coming from many parts. But before changing something that is working very well, we have to be very, very conscious, obviously, considering all the pros and cons.

"I believe the attractiveness is very high. We are in a good shape."

He called the four-time-per-year format "absolutely is the best format we can have, if you talk about the format of the match in a tie. If you talk about general formats, there are many considerations, and I can assure you that the Davis Cup Committee and the board of the International Tennis Federation, we are very, very conscious about that. We consider input every day."

World Tennis Day will be centred on a series of high-profile exhibition events around the world, including the New York exhibitions. The events, organised by the promoter StarGames, headed by former player agent Jerry Solomon, will feature current and former professionals together with demonstrations of the ITF's Tennis10s programme aimed at increasing participation among young players around the world.

Alongside these events, the ITF will be encouraging its 210 National Associations to support World Tennis Day with their own grassroots and club activities to attract new participants to the sport.

Solomon trumpeted the initiative. "We've really patterned it after what we have been able to do in the United States. We started this in 2008 in the US in conjunction with our BNP Paribas Showdown in New York.

"In the first year we had 200 tennis clubs and tennis facilities. Last year we had over 2 000 tennis clubs and tennis facilities participate in Tennis Night in America.

"We've taken that as a blueprint and now we hope to take that around the world. We can envision a day where we have four, five, six showdown events around the world in major events, and five, six, seven thousand tennis facilities around the world participating in World Tennis Day."

Several other federations have already pledged their support to join in World Tennis Day activities in 2013, including Davis Cup finalists Czech Republic and Spain, plus Argentina, Brazil, Hong Kong, India, Mexico, Norway, Portugal and South Africa.

The initiative also hops to showcase the ITF's Tennis10s programme, which promotes the use of slower and lower bouncing balls, shorter and lighter rackets, and smaller courts to make it easier for children to take up the game which was launched five years ago.

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