How to solve a problem like the Fed CupApril 19, 2016
Mary Joe Fernandez, the captain of the US team, is in favour of changing the Fed Cup format. The US would play Australia for a place in the World Group next year. Pat Rafter Arena is the venue, where clay would be put in place. Serena Williams, Venus Williams and Sloane Stephens didn't join their teammates.
"We didn't find out we were coming to Australia until the second week of February," Fernandez said. "It's not the most convenient thing to do, come to Australia when everyone's heading to Europe or the States."
Alicia Molik, the captain of the Australian team, believed that the attitude to the Fed Cup would change from country to country, and the host nation was fortunate to see their top players committed to this team competition.
"In Serena and Venus's case, Olympics are a big goal for them, they have (already) qualified," Molik said. "The U.S. has the luxury; they have a lot of top players."
The Fed Cup was used to be played on one location. It was a week-long event. It happened when the Asian swing was unheard of. Many players complained about the long season especially the grueling schedule during the second half of the year. But money can change their mind. (The International Premier Tennis League is a good example.) Tennis is one of the few sports where male and female players are awarded equal prize money, but it's likely not to reflect in the Davis Cup and its counterpart in the WTA Tour, the Fed Cup. The latter adapted a schedule similar to the Davis Cup, but it might not have generated enough publicity.
There's a tournament being played each week, from the first week of January to the final week of October. Players may have two months of rest (and off-season training) afterwards, but it won't be the case with the top players. The finals of the Fed Cup will be one reason, followed by the International Premier Tennis League. Here are three ways to attract more top players to the Fed Cup:
Fed Cup must return to a week-long format. Not that the Davis Cup format didn't work out, but a week-long competition can be convenient for everyone. This is more apparent during the Olympic year. (Fernandez, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, might have wished for Stephens. She won the Volvo Car Open. The tournament was played on the green clay courts at Charleston, North Carolina.) Under this format, many players won't be obliged to participate in the competition.
This team competition must be held in January. It can happen. The French Open and Wimbledon are two weeks apart from each other, but it would no longer be the case. In the case of the Fed Cup, this won't be a remote possibility.
It must be played on the hard courts. This is a no brainer. Hard court is a neutral surface. The ball bounce and speed may differ from one court to another, but it won't be much of a difference. It will be sensible, as most tournaments are being played on hard courts.
Do you have objections? If you're a tennis fan, don't hesitate to let us know!
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