Fed Cup format
to change in 2020
Sally Milano | June 27, 2019
Davis Cup introduced a new format that will kick off this November in Madrid, and now Fed Cup is following suit as well.
Starting next year, the women's international team event will consist of a six-day final tournament with 12 teams participating. The inaugural “World Cup of Tennis” will launch April 14-19, 2020, and take place on the clay courts of the Laszlo Papp Budapest Sports Arena in Budapest, Hungary. It will be the first of three straight years the event will take place in Budapest.
With the new format, the number of teams competing each year will increase from eight to 20, with 12 countries qualifying for the Fed Cup Finals, where they will compete for $18 million in prize money—$12 million going to players and $6 million to national associations.
Next year, 16 nations will compete in the 2020 Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Qualifiers, Feb.
7-8, on a home-and-away basis, with the winners of the best-of-five-match series earning one of eight spots in the Finals. Australia and France, both finalists in 2019, host nation Hungary and one wild-card nation to be confirmed are already slated to compete in the 2020 final.
The U.S. is one of the 16 nations set to play in the 2020 Fed Cup Qualifiers, based on its performance in the 2019 Fed Cup by BNP Paribas. Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, Great Britain, Japan, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Spain and Switzerland will also participate.
"I'm excited to see the impact this new format has on the competition over the next few years,” said U.S. Fed Cup Captain Kathy Rinaldi. “Combining the traditional, home-and-away style for the Qualifying rounds with the one-week 'World Cup of Tennis' Finals gives Fed Cup an event that has the potential to grow in popularity worldwide, while still allowing each country the opportunity to compete on home soil. Fed Cup deserves to thrive, and we look forward to what this new future holds."
The Finals will feature a round-robin format with four groups of three teams, followed by knock-out semifinals and the final. The top two nations will be guaranteed a place in the following year’s Finals, while the nations finishing third through 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, the WTA and the 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, while also supporting player health through the extension of the offseason 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 Playoffs 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.
“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,” ITF President David Haggerty said. “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 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.”
Said tennis legend Billie Jean King, who was recently announced as Fed Cup’s Global Ambassador: "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 honor to be part of the next evolution of the greatest event in women’s team tennis."