Time is right for a tennis World Cup


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Serbia's Novak Djokovic lost to Roger Federer in the final of the ATP Basel tournament last weekend but you get the impression that he wasn't too bothered - as he said himself early in the tournament, his mind is already focused on the Davis Cup final next month.

This week the Paris Masters takes place, but again you feel that most of the local fans in attendance will be chatting more about the forthcoming decider in Belgrade than the action taking place at the Palais Omnisports de Paris-Bercy.

The question is, though, whether the rest of us really care about Serbia's final clash with France? Of course, any tennis fan worth his salt will watch the Davis Cup final - but there is no real sense of build-up or expectation ahead of the final outside of the two nations competing.

Tramlines was buzzing after watching the Davis Cup semi-finals - it even wrote an article about it - but such enthusiasm quickly fizzled out, the euphoric mood wafted away, and now it will have to challenge itself to get excited all over again come the week of the final.

Instead, what Tramlines really wants to see, and hopefully in the not too distant future, is a slam-dunk, blockbuster, mouth-watering, two-week team tournament extravaganza added to the tennis calendar. Yes - it is time for the World Cup of Tennis.

Tramlines would look to rearrange the Davis Cup to fit into such a time slot. The Davis Cup itself should be the World Cup trophy: it has a storied history as the sport's team prize, after all. But its current format is not building on that proud history.

Big-name players consistently withdraw as it is hard to commit four weekends a year to playing it - but if you just had it all take place in a two-week period at the same venue, with 16 nations involved and plenty of hype and TV coverage, then who wouldn't want to play in it? And who wouldn't want to watch?

The Davis Cup is currently played over 12 days in the calendar. If you had it over two weeks, you gain two extra days.

That means the actual format of the tournament does not need to change. You can retain the 16-team knockout tournament, with four singles matches and one doubles rubber per tie.

It would be a tough ask to expect a star player to play in every five-set match, a tactic relied upon by some Davis Cup nations - but this would just increase the team element of the event. Countries would have to increase their squad numbers and give extra consideration to which players they use and when.

What about promotion and relegation? No problem: have the eight first-round losers play off against each other and the four that lose get knocked down to the second tier. Likewise at the same time the 'World Cup' is going on, you could have a B tournament, with the four semi-finalists in that event earning promotion to the following season's World Cup.

Next question would be where to fit it in the calendar? Well, how about playing it round about now? There is a big lull in tennis in between the US Open and Tour Championships so how does a big, fat juicy World Cup of Tennis in between the two sound to you?

All Tramlines knows is that it would gorge itself silly on the action - two whole weeks of uninterrupted international team tennis. Now that sounds like something that could become a fifth Grand Slam.

What's more, you could have a different host nation each year and allow cities to bid like they do in other sports. The host nation could of course set up the courts to try and benefit their players. One year the World Cup could be on clay, the next on a hard court, the next on grass.

As for the tournaments that would have to make way in the calendar for this event, there would be four extra free weekends where they can be fitted in as the Davis Cup schedule would be cleared. Heck, the Paris Masters should be moved as it is: it has been riddled by pull-outs in recent years and, let's be honest, Masters events should not be creating finalists like Dominik Hrbaty.

Certainly Tramlines would encourage the women to get involved in this idea too. Did you even know the Fed Cup final was last weekend? The coverage was so minimal you would be forgiven if you completely missed it.

Such an idea would be dead in the water before it even started if the players did not get on board. But maybe this is something that Roger Federer could sign up to; surely Andy Murray would look on enviably and be determined to help Britain qualify for the World Cup; and Djokovic would be able to feel that special nationalistic feeling for a whole two weeks, only this time knowing the whole world is watching him while he represents his country.

Have you any other ideas on a potential format or changes? Should it maybe take place every two or four years to add lustre? Leave your comments below.



The only change in the top 10 is Fernando Verdasco moving down two spots to ninth which bumps up David Ferrer and Andy Roddick a place. Marcel Granollers moves into the top 50 after reaching the final in Valencia - he is up 22 places to 45, while Croatia's Ivan Dodig is up 30 places to a career-high ranking of 88 after beating the likes of Rainer Schuettler and Igor Kunitsyn on his way to winning a challenger event in Astana.

There are few changes on the women's side of things but the in-form Ana Ivanovic is now back in the top 20 after winning in Bali. It makes you wonder why she has ditched Heinz Gunthardt as her coach. If it aint broke, Ana....



Winner: "Well done @justingimelstob. You beat Oprah's time by 20 minutes! Not bad for a professional athlete" - Andy Roddick shows he knows how to banter after Justin Gimelstob posted the time he ran in the New York Marathon (4:09:58).

To be fair, Tramlines successfully finished a marathon not too long ago and was feeling sick for days afterwards. The moral of the story? Don't eat 20-year-old bars of chocolate. (Ed: Sorry Tramlines, kids today won't get that joke...) Well then they can just visit here and educate themselves.

Runner-up: "Definitely colder in Moscow than... pretty much EVERYWHERE!!! Bears are walking the streets and everyone is drinking vodka..." - Dmitry Tursunov explains the pros and cons of life in the Russian capital. Tramlines now has an image of bears swigging from bottles of vodka in the street - and that can only be a good thing.

Wooden Spoon: "Bonjour french croissant! Or should I say le croissant au chocolat? Is my french getting better? Lol" - Eh... we still think you might need a few more lessons Ms Victoria Azarenka.



Think of the great comebacks in history: Elvis's TV special in 1968; Liverpool's 2005 Champions League 'miracle in Istanbul'; and of course Lazarus's return from the grave in 33AD.

But surely none of them come even close to Alex Bogdanovic's triumphant return from injury at the €30k ATP Challenger event in Eckental, Germany.

A-Bog (GB) won three rounds of qualifying to reach the main draw before unceremoniously hammering world number 178 Simone Vagnozzi of Italy 6-3 6-0 in the first round proper. He then romped all the way TO THE SEMI-FINALS before finally losing to Ruben Bemelmans.

So impressed is Tramlines that it is not even going to bother looking up what Alex Bogomolov Jr did last week. Give our A-Bog a point...let the comeback commence!!!

Standings: A-Bog (US) 18-12 A-Bog (GB)



It is the last chance for the likes of Jurgen Melzer, Mikhail Youzhny, Fernando Verdasco, Andy Roddick, David Ferrer and Tomas Berdych to book their place at the ATP Finals courtesy of a strong performance at the Paris Masters. Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic will all look to act as spoilers.

The women meanwhile are all done for the season. Enjoy your break girls... see you in January.

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