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Fed Cup: Revamped tournament could be held as soon as April 2020



Fed Cup: Revamped tournament could be held as soon as April 2020

Great Britain are one victory away from the World Group stage under the current Fed Cup format

A revamped Fed Cup Finals – featuring 12 teams – could be up and running as early as next April.

BBC Sport understands venues in Europe, the Middle East and on the east coast of the United States are currently being sought.

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has asked for ‘expressions of interest’ by the end of this week.

The Davis Cup – the men’s equivalent team competition – has already undergone significant reform.

A $3bn (£2.29bn), 25-year partnership has been agreed with Kosmos, the investment group founded by the Barcelona defender Gerard Pique.

This November, 18 teams will compete for the title and $20m (£15.24m) of prize money in the inaugural finals in Madrid.

The pace of Fed Cup reform has been far slower, with Martina Navratilova telling the BBC the competition has become an “after-thought.”

Two separate World Groups of eight teams, and the difficulty of winning promotion from zonal competitions, has long frustrated players and captains.

The ITF has, though, doubled the prize money at World Group level this year, and is now pursuing a week-long Finals featuring 12 teams. It is hoped prize money will equal that of the Davis Cup.

Eight home and away qualification ties are expected to be staged in February, which means 20 teams will have the chance to be involved each year.

In an interview with BBC Sport last month, Pique suggested the Davis Cup and Fed Cup could become a combined event in the “close future”. It is not yet known whether Kosmos wish to be involved in the ITF’s plans for 2020.

The Fed Cup, which was founded in 1963, is the largest annual international team competition in women’s sport

Under the current rules, Great Britain are one win away from a return to the World Group for the first time since 1993. Promotion to World Group 2 would be the prize for victory against Kazakhstan at London’s Copper Box Arena in April.

However, if the competition is reformed in time for next year, then a win against Kazakhstan would almost certainly guarantee the involvement of Anne Keothavong’s team.

“The ITF is committed to enhancing the Fed Cup women’s team tennis competition,” the organisation said in a statement.

“Nothing has been decided, but the ITF has been discussing formats with nations and players to increase the size of the Fed Cup World Group to 16 nations.

“Following the 2018 AGM, the ITF announced a 100% increase in Fed Cup prize money compensation from 2019, and stated that it was looking at making changes to Fed Cup for 2020.”

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