LONDON: This year's Davis Cup Finals will be staged in three cities with Turin and Innsbruck added as co-hosts with Madrid, the International Tennis Federation announced on Monday.
The men's team event will also be played over 11 days rather than seven after changes ratified by the ITF Board and partner Kosmos Tennis, the Spanish-based investment firm who are ploughing US$3 billion into the sport over 25 years.
Each city will host two of the six groups, with Madrid staging two quarter-finals, and Innsbruck and Turin one each. Madrid will host the semi-finals and final.
"We are very excited to bring the Davis Cup Finals to Innsbruck and Turin," Davis Cup Finals director Albert Costa said. "Both cities submitted impressive bids that not only promise a world class experience for players and fans, but also include stringent measures to ensure the health and safety of all in attendance."
The 121-year-old men's team event was revamped in 2019 with the traditional season-long home and away ties replaced by a soccer World Cup-type format with 18 nations battling for the title in Madrid in November.
Rafa Nadal led Spain to the title but the crammed schedule was challenging for players, organisers and fans alike with one tie between the U.S. and Italy ending at 4am.
Last year's Davis Cup Finals were postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic but the same 18 nations will contest this year's event starting on Nov. 25.
The Madrid venue is also changing with the Madrid Arena in the Casa de Campo replacing the Caja Magica which staged all 25 ties, each consisting of two singles and a doubles, in 2019.
Turin's Pala Alpitour Arena is a logical choice as it will host the ATP Finals for the first time the week before. The venue in Innsbruck will be the Olympia-Halle.
Several other cities expressed interest during the 10-week bidding process but Turin and Innsbruck are both at altitude, as is Madrid, so playing conditions will be similar.
"It was important to find two European cities that were well connected to Madrid, with similar playing conditions, to provide a smooth transition for players travelling from other venues," former French Open champion Costa said.
"With confirmation of the three venues, we are already working hard to offer the best possible event in 2021."
Madrid will host Group A which features Spain, the Russian Tennis Federation and Ecuador and Group B featuring 2019 runners-up Canada, Kazakhstan and Sweden.
Austria will be assured of home support in their ties against Serbia and Germany with Innsbruck staging Group F along with Group C (France, Britain and Czech Rep).
Turin will host Group D (Australia, Croatia, Hungary) and Group E (United States, Italy, Colombia).
The 2019 revamp attracted some criticism from tennis federations who said fans would be deprived of the home and away ties that create a uniquely partisan atmosphere.
Costa believes that three host cities will offer more opportunities for fans to cheer on their teams.
"We believe we did a great event in 2019 but for sure there were things to improve, like the scheduling and the attendances in the stands," Costa when the changes were first being considered earlier this year.
"With the new format and the new project we have now I believe we will solve all those problems. Eleven days is better for the players because you can't play five ties in seven days."
The ITF also confirmed that from 2022 the Davis Cup Finals will be reduced to 16 nations and that the multi-city format are part of the "long-term vision for the competition."
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Christian Radnedge)