The Davis Cup may need a radical overhaul to address the “sad” spectacle of empty stands seen at some of this week’s matches, says a leading tennis official.
Grand Slam winner Stan Wawrinka highlighted the meagre turnout for Switzerland’s match against France earlier this week, which was played in front of thousands of empty seats at Manchester’s AO Arena.
German tennis chief Dietloff von Arnim, who is running to be president of the International Tennis Federation this month, said the sport should be open to “all alternatives” to a format introduced as part of a now-dissolved $3bn deal with footballer Gerard Pique’s Kosmos investment group.
“From what I heard, the first day was the same in all four countries. I talked to France on Tuesday and they said it was sad, the atmosphere of a Futures tournament, and I think everybody saw Wawrinka,” Von Arnim told City A.M.
“With the Davis Cup we will have a wider issue for sure and we have to think about it. We now have to really watch the economics, which were the basis of the decision to change, and secondly the format. I would say it’s one of the major issues that we need to solve in the short term.”
The low crowds can in part be blamed on teams playing away from home. When Great Britain beat Australia yesterday, around 8,000 turned out to watch the match.
Blinded by the promise of $3bn, the ITF embraced a Kosmos-led Davis Cup revamp in 2019. But after that deal collapsed in January, another rethink could be on the cards.
“We have to make a very wise decision. We won’t earn that amount of money again in one click,” Von Arnim added.
“We have to make the Davis Cup successful again from the sporting point of view and then I have no doubt that it will be attractive to sponsors and media, but we have to work on that.
“We should be really open to all alternatives on the table. We have to engage much more with the TV, sponsors and the players.”