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Djokovic warns of ‘saturation’

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Serbia's Novak Djokovic in action during his group stage match against Germany's Alexander Zverev. Reuters/Andrew Couldridge

LONDON (Reuters) – Novak Djokovic fears staging a revamped Davis Cup finals and a revived ATP World Team Cup weeks apart could hurt the sport and result in creating two ‘average’ events.

Tennis’s world governing body the ITF was given the green light in August to launch a new Davis Cup format next year, culminating in an 18-nation finals week to be held at the end of November in Madrid.

Several leading players, including Djokovic, have questioned the timing of the ITF’s flagship event, coming at the end of a gruelling 11-month season and Germany’s Alexander Zverev said this week he would not play in the showpiece finals.

The ATP are behind plans for a rival World Team Cup.

Yesterday, the ATP’s chief Chris Kermode and Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley, together with ATP Player Council President Djokovic, will hold a news conference in London to launch the World Team Cup which is set to start in 2020.

The ATP’s competition will feature 24 teams, offer $15 million in prize money and ranking points.

With the ITF and ATP on collision course and both seemingly determined to push ahead with their rival events, Djokovic believes it could end up being damaging for the sport.

“Obviously the Davis Cup and World Team Cup situation is delicate,” Djokovic told reporters on Wednesday.

“We find ourselves in this kind of particular circumstances and situations that we have to deal with right now.

“I think in the next two years we’ll have both events happening in a very similar format if not the same, six weeks apart. I honestly don’t think it’s good for the sport.”

The 118-year-old Davis Cup has been diluted somewhat by leading players like Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal picking and choosing when they commit to the event.

Its new format is designed to raise its profile with Madrid being chosen as the first host city for the 18 competing nations.

Djokovic is not convinced the two new events can survive.

“It’s not sustainable. It will happen that we will have two average events. So I think creating one event is an ideal scenario and I think outcome for everyone,” he said.

“From what I’ve heard from conversations with people from all of the sides, different sides in this sport, they all want to have one event because it’s over-saturated with different cups, different events.

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