When a 119-year-old tennis tournament needs resuscitating, who you gonna call? A footballer? The Davis Cup, the sport’s largest annual international team competition, has had a 25-year, $3bn revamp deal funded by Kosmos, an investment group helmed by FC Barcelona’s centre back Gerard Piqué.
Despite the defender’s on-pitch success, his meddling in tennis has been met with scepticism. Radical changes to the tournament’s format saw qualifying rounds played earlier this year before the 18-nation World Cup-style finale this month in Madrid.
Piqué, who’s so far helped La Liga giants Barca to 28 trophies over 11 years, insists he’s playing the long game with the revamped competition, not going for a gimmick. He says he’s made the investment with his post-football career in mind, calling the Davis Cup makeover the “project of my life”.
The success of the whole venture depends on top-class players returning to the tournament. So far, so good: Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal and world number one Novak Djokovic (who changed his mind about entering after talks with Piqué) will play in the new season-ending competition in Spain’s capital. But Piqué hasn’t quite won all the stars over to his side. Roger Federer, 20-time Grand Slam champion, somewhat witheringly dubbed the contest the “Piqué Cup”. Unsurprisingly, he will be absent. So, that’s game, set, but not quite match yet.
The Davis Cup Finals are in Madrid, 18–24 November.