For years, most tennis players and fans have agreed that Davis Cup needs to be restructured. Year-round competition meant that top players were unable or unwilling to play.
In 2018, ITF announced changes to the Davis Cup format. The changes to the 118-year old competition were spearheaded by the Kosmos group which will invest $3 billion over a period of 25 years.
Kosmos’ plan received a 71 percent approval at the ITF annual general meeting. Proposals require a two-thirds majority to pass. While France and USA supported the changes and voted in favor of the move, others, such as Australia, were against the new format.
Criticisms started coming in from every direction imaginable. The changes did have some supporters. Top players such as Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, and Rafael Nadal have publicly supported the new idea.
Who is Kosmos? Do they have any tennis experience?
Kosmos Holding Group is global sports and media investment group headquartered in Barcelona, Spain.
The firm was founded in 2017 by FC Barcelona and Spanish national football team player Gerard Piqué, Hiroshi Mikitani (Chairman and CEO of Rakuten, Japanese e-commmerce giant), Mike Evans, Nullah Sarker, and Edmund Chu.
Larry Ellision (founder of Oracle and one of the top 10 richest people in the world), who owns the Indian Wells tournament, is an investor in Kosmos along with Lionel Messi.
No investment in tennis complete without money from China. Sequoia Capital China and China Media Capital (CMC) are also investors in Kosmos.
Kosmos Tennis is run by Chief Executive Javier Alonso, who is the former head of IMG Tennis.
2002 French Open Champion Albert Costa (frequently referred to incorrectly as “Alberto ” Costa) joined Kosmos Tennis as Competition Director and Davis Cup finals Tournament Director in October 2018. Costa brings in years of experience as player and tournament director to his new role.
What do all the non-tennis folks at Kosmos have to offer?
“One of the reasons why we managed to make it happen is because we are not coming from the world of tennis,” insists Alonso. “We are not contaminated by the world of tennis. We have a fresh view. Gerard is a footballer; I am coming from another sport; Alex is coming from beach soccer. We have good ideas around the table.”
How big is Kosmos Tennis?
Kosmos has about 20 people in its tennis division.
Apart from Davis Cup, does Kosmos have any other plans for tennis?
Kosmos is interested in creating other new competitions in tennis. They have looked at filling the two week-long slots in the calendar that used to be occupied by Davis Cup ties. One idea that has been floated is the Majesty Cup, a $10 million winner-takes-all exhibition tournament with 64 players competing over the course of six knockout rounds. That event would take place after the US Open in September, during a week traditionally reserved for the Davis Cup semi-finals.
ATP has announced the launch of the ATP Cup, a ten-day, 24-nation team competition that will debut in Australia in January 2020. That is six weeks after the Davis Cup Finals. The scheduling of the two events (Davis Cup and the ATP Cup) so close to each other has raised questions on having two competing team tournaments on an already crowded tennis calendar.
It’s not clear how much room the calendar allows for Kosmos’ ideas or if there is much appetite among fans. Only time will tell.
One thing is clear. Kosmos is playing the long game. Its contract with ITF is for 25 years.