Davis Cup, Fed Cup finals pushed to 2021 because of pandemic

LONDON — The Davis Cup and Fed Cup finals were scrapped for 2020 by the International Tennis Federation on Friday because of the coronavirus pandemic, and both competitions will resume next year.

The Davis Cup men’s competition was supposed to have qualifying matches for future finals this September and the 2020 finals in November. Now the World Group I and World Group II preliminary matches will be played next March or September, with the finals to be held in Madrid during the week of Nov. 22, 2021.

The ITF said the 18 nations that already qualified for the 2020 finals will keep those spots in 2021.

The Fed Cup women's event was supposed to stage its finals indoors in April, but that was postponed because of the COVID-19 outbreak. Now the ITF is holding those finals April 13-18, 2021, in Budapest, Hungary — and similar to the Davis Cup, the 12 teams that qualified for 2020 will be in the field.

“The challenges in hosting a mass gathering of this size at an indoor venue are considerable, both in the current and the anticipated climate,” the ITF said in a statement.

All sanctioned tennis competition has been on hold since March and the professional tours are aiming to return in August.

But various exhibitions have been taking place, including a series organized by Novak Djokovic that had people in the stands and zero social distancing — and the No. 1-ranked Serb was one of four players who tested positive for the coronavirus.

Other sports around the world have resumed play without spectators — the U.S. Open Grand Slam tennis tournament is scheduled to begin Aug. 31 behind closed doors — but the ITF wants to sell tickets for the Fed Cup finals.

“Hosting the competition without fans was not considered a desirable option, given the unique atmosphere created by national supporters,” the ITF said.

Following the lead of the Davis Cup, which debuted its new finals format in 2019, the ITF is using a new “World Cup of Tennis” format for the Fed Cup.