The ITF announced a new ‘World Cup of Tennis’ format for Fed Cup by BNP Paribas, including the launch of the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Finals in Budapest, Hungary on 14-19 April 2020. The Finals will be staged at the Laszlo Papp Budapest Sports Arena on clay on two match courts for three years, 2020-22.
The bold new format will see an increase from eight to 20 nations competing each year to become world champions, with 12 nations qualifying for the Fed Cup Finals where they will compete for a total prize fund of $18 million, with $12 million going to players and $6 million to National Associations.
Sixteen nations will compete in the 2020 Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Qualifiers on 7-8 February on a home-and-away basis over five matches to earn one of eight places in the Finals, where they will join the previous year’s finalists, Australia and France, host nation Hungary and one wild card nation to be confirmed.
The following 16 nations are currently set to contest the 2020 Fed Cup Qualifiers based on their performances in the 2019 Fed Cup by BNP Paribas: Belarus, Belgium, Brazil (*), Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, Great Britain, Japan, Kazakhstan (*), Latvia, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Switzerland, USA.
(*) two highest ranked losing nations in 2019 World Group II Play-offs.
The Finals will feature a round-robin format with four groups of three teams, followed by knock-out semi-finals and final. The top two nations will be guaranteed a place in the following year’s Finals, while the nations finishing 3rd-10th will contest the following year’s Qualifiers. All matches will consist of two singles and one doubles.
The new format was approved by the ITF Board following an extensive review and consultation process with National Associations, Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) and WTA Player Council. The format respects the existing women’s tennis calendar by reducing Fed Cup to two weeks of competition in existing Fed Cup weeks, and supporting player health through the extension of the off season by moving the Finals from November to April.
There will be no change to the format of the regional group events, which will continue to consist of week-long round-robin tournaments. With the expansion of the elite level of the competition, the number of nations qualifying from the regional Group I events for the Fed Cup Play-offs has doubled from four to eight. These nations will face the eight losing nations from the Fed Cup Qualifiers to earn a place in the following year’s Qualifiers.
Balazs Furjes, Hungarian Secretary of State of Budapest’s Development and International Sports Events, said: “The announcement of Budapest as host for the new Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Finals is the jewel in the crown of the city’s global tennis ambitions and underlines our status as one of the prime global capitals of sport.”
Hungarian Tennis Association (HTA) President, Lajos Szucs, said: “Hungarian tennis has a proud history of hosting men’s and women’s tour events and more than 100 ITF tournaments, and we are delighted to welcome the world to witness the best in women’s tennis next year. The Finals will provide the ideal platform to showcase Hungarian tennis – and, of course, the beautiful city of Budapest.”
ITF President, David Haggerty, said: “The launch of the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Finals will create a festival of tennis that elevates this flagship women’s team competition to a new level, yet remains loyal to the historic core of the Fed Cup. We have consulted and listened to stakeholders and worked with the WTA and its Player Council to make sure the new format represents the interests of the players. We pledged to our National Associations during the 2018 AGM that we would introduce reforms that will grow the competition’s global audience and enable greater investment into the future of the sport. We believe this bold new Fed Cup format delivers this pledge.”
Billie Jean King, recently announced as Global Ambassador for Fed Cup by BNP Paribas, said; “Fed Cup has evolved since I was part of the first winning team in 1963 but it has always remained true to its roots. These reforms are historic as they reflect the ITF’s commitment to unlocking the Fed Cup’s huge potential, hosting a competition with prize money deserving of the world’s best women’s tennis teams and players. It is an honour to be part of the next evolution of the greatest event in women’s team tennis.”
The increased prize money for Fed Cup by BNP Paribas starting in 2020 will include an additional $4.9 million for nations competing below the elite level of the competition.
These reforms will help the ITF in its mission to deliver tennis for future generations by ensuring the long-term growth and sustainability of the sport.