All the questions and answers following ITF’s announcement of Fed Cup reform

The re-form plans for the Fed Cup are out and go live next year.

It is no secret that the tournament needed something different but is the plan put forward the best one?

The prize money is now there. This will be a big beneficiary to smaller nations and the prize pot for the finale is also bigger.

The 20 teams that will compete in the finale week held yes in April ( I will come onto that ) will share £14.2 million. £9.5 million to the players and the other £4.75 million to the associations.

So where is it being held?

It is being held in Budapest, Hungary until 2022.

When is it?

April, between Charleston and Stuttgart (not clashing with WTA main draw but with Stuttgart qualifying)

What surface?

Clay…

Yes, it will be held on clay. Having the event moved from November (end of season) to April (clay court season) the WTA were keen for the event to be held on clay rather than players having to go from Charleston (clay) to hard for Fed Cup and back to Stuttgart (clay).

Will it always be on clay?

Yes, it does look likely.

Why the move from November to April?

The move is something spoken about for a while as once players have played a tough season, potentially finishing at the tour finals in Shenzhen or Zhuhai they are knackered so putting in the middle of the calendar was an easy decision.

What is the format for the finale?

12 teams. 4 groups of 3 teams. 1 team from each group advances to the semi-finals.

Each tie between countries is made up of 3 matches. 2 singles matches and 1 doubles match.

How do you qualify?

In February 16 teams with battle to qualify. 8 will go through to April finals. The other 8 will go to the play-offs (also in April) to qualify for the following February’s qualifiers. The 8 other teams will be from Regional Groups. 4 from Europe/Africa, 2 from Oceania/Asia and 2 from America’s.

In the April finales there will be 12 teams which are 8 qualifiers followed by… host nation, wildcard and finalists from the previous year.

You can see more of the plan here – Fed Cup Map

What about home/away ties?

One of the biggest problems is in the world is fans seeing their players at home. This new format surely limits this for fans?

In the qualifiers there will be a 50/50 chance of seeing your country.

With the finals being played in one country it limits the chance for fans to see their team in the final.

If anything success in this tournament could mean no home times right? For example… Czech Republic have a great team, say they get to the final three years running there will be no home ties at all. How can they inspire a home crowd? Not everyone can hop from country to country to watch their team.

This has caused debate.

Simona Halep has pretty much ruled herself out of the event. She ‘loves’ the format and enjoys the home and away ties which are what make it great.

Billie Jean King who is an ambassador for the Fed Cup said;

“First of all, you have to think beyond yourself”

“I’d ask her – would you rather have 5,000 people watching you, or 23,000? What’s better for the sport? I don’t think there’s any question this new format has the potential to be more successful for our sport.”

I get it from both sides. All Fed Cup ties bring crowds, some are bigger than others. Imagine having the 12 countries for the finale in April in this arena playing and there is a match where the support for some countries is low because let’s be honest getting a passionate crowd for each team will be impossible.

Maybe moving the finals yearly would help? Three years in one country is a long time in tennis and players move on and missing an opportunity like playing at home is becoming even more real now when we hope to inspire those at home.

Who is funding it?

There are questions on how much money this could make.

ITF President David Heggarty has said it is government funded as well as local sponsorship. He went onto say the government has set money aside and there are ways to breakeven or even make profit.

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