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November 24, 2019

Gerard Pique

David Haggerty

Paris, France

HEATHER BOWLER: Welcome, everybody. Thank you for joining us.

On behalf of Gerard Piqué, Founder and President of Kosmos, and David Haggerty, President of ITF, we will have statements first but then we will open the floor to Q&A. So please ask your questions. We have English and Spanish translation. Thank you.

I pass over to David Haggerty.

DAVID HAGGERTY: Thank you, Heather.

Welcome everyone and thank you for being here. Your coverage of this week's event has been phenomenal worldwide. So thank you very much.

2019 Davis Cup has been a success. And it gives us a strong platform on which to build, make some tweaks and further enhance the competition.

The new Davis Cup by Rakuten Madrid Finals format combines both history with innovation. Davis Cup is historic, but it has evolved over time. Change was necessary so that the global competition can prosper the way that we have a vision of.

Top players requested change. Sponsorship and broadcast investment was falling. So we listened and we introduced some reforms to achieve really four objectives to make it better: For the players, the nations, the sponsors, and the fans.

The first point was to have top players competing. I think that you have seen this week that the top players are here. And we thank them for their support and their outstanding performances on the court.

Second, to increase the media and fan engagement. In the past, we've come to a final where two teams play each other and those two nations are following it, but now we have the world following the Davis Cup, the World Cup of Tennis.

As for sponsors, I think you can see the prestigious sponsors that we have now as part of our program.

And finally, the fourth thing, better for the nations, with more nations competing at World Group level for the chance to become the World Champions. At the beginning of 2019, 30 teams had the chance to lift the Davis Cup trophy.

And also, this competition provides the funding that's necessary for the nations to develop the next generation of players and fans.

The Davis Cup Finals World Cup format combines the best elements of the 119-year competition, and yet we've adapted to the demands of the modern game.

But what has not changed, Davis Cup remains unique, the one and only official annual international team competition in which players represent their country and express great pride in carrying their flag and playing for their nation. Davis Cup puts the team and country above the individual.

Legends of the game cite the moments playing Davis Cup as some of their most memorable of their career. You've seen and heard players express pride and emotion here this week.

Take the young Canadian. Denis is an example of the ITF pathway. He started his journey from the juniors and here he is playing in Davis Cup. He showed great team engagement, and he learned some of that because he played Junior Davis Cup over the last few years before making it to the top of the game.

So, I'd like to just read a quote. He said: "It reminds me of Junior Davis Cup, just on a much bigger stage. Let the best team win." Well, certainly, I think he's probably thinking that today and hoping that he might be the best team.

The Davis Cup trophy is one of the most iconic trophies in the sport, and it's awarded to the best national team in the world. The tennis World Champions.

Davis Cup creates national and international heroes with home and away and a truly global competition. 133 teams entered the 2019 competition.

The revenue that the ITF generates from Davis Cup is reinvested into the development of tennis at the national level. By competing in Davis Cup, the players contribute to delivering tennis for future generations.

So I'd like to have a special thanks to the players, the captains, the staff, and everyone who has made this event a success, and that includes you. I'd like to thank you very much for the coverage that you have given us, not just this week, but in all the lead-up to the Davis Cup Finals. So thank you very much.

And remember, a strong Davis Cup is strong for the future of tennis.

So now I'd like to turn it over to Gerard for a few comments as well.

GERARD PIQUÉ: Thank you, Dave.

Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome. I think Dave has said everything. I just want to add some numbers so you can understand the impact that Davis Cup had.

When we started a few years ago with the project of the new format, what we wanted basically was that the top players participate in the competition. I think that was a fact. You saw here the top players playing and representing their countries.

The second one was to get more interest from sponsorship. When we took the competition a year ago, Davis Cup had four sponsors. Right now we have 11 sponsors and more than 20 partners.

And the third point that I want to mention is that we wanted to have interest worldwide. Just to give you some numbers. Here there are more than 650 journalists from 25 different countries. The competition has been followed in 121 different countries. We had in the venue during this week more than 130,000 people.

So I think that these are incredible numbers. You can see the impact in different countries through social media, through, like, media of all the people that are following. Just to give you an example yesterday, how many people traveled from UK just to follow the semifinal against Spain, how the players were involved so this could happen.

I want just to remind one thing. When we started, we said: New year, same soul. I think that the best thing that we can keep from this year, this Davis Cup Finals, is the soul. How the players, they cried when they lose. The example of Serbia, when they came here and they lost in the last tiebreak, and they were in tears.

Or how they celebrate, how passion, either celebrations when Canada qualifies yesterday after the tiebreak, the last tiebreak of the last game against Russia. And they qualified for the first time in a Davis Cup Final I think.

These kind of emotions are just so unique and that we have to preserve them. So I'm very, very happy that this happened all this week. We are very excited to work very hard for next year, for 2020. And to organize an even bigger and better event.

Thank you very much.


So if you have a question, if you could raise your hand, but could you please announce your name and which outlet you're representing. There are microphones on either side of the room.

A question here.

Q. (In Spanish.)
GERARD PIQUÉ: Is there a translation or not?

HEATHER BOWLER: There should be a translation.

GERARD PIQUÉ: (In Spanish.)

HEATHER BOWLER: Next question.

Q. Gerard, some of the atmospheres we've seen have been really good, especially the Spain ties. But other ties have been a lot of empty seats. What can you do next year and in future years to try and encourage more fans from other countries to come?
GERARD PIQUÉ: Yes, you have to know that this is the first event of the new format. I think that a lot of people didn't know what to expect or they didn't know how the format will go. So there were a lot of people that was waiting to see what will happen and then decide for next year's.

I think that it's true that there are some courts that wasn't full. But it's true that people from all the countries have traveled. I mean, Kazakhstan, Netherlands, Belgium. I mean, all the countries have brought some fans. And all we want to do for next year is to try to attract them to bring much more people.

I think that now people knows what Davis Cup is and the atmosphere that we can create on court. For example, on Thursday there was the France-Serbia and the court was full, the main court.

So I think that there are a lot of positive points to have. Also there are different courts that weren't full. But I'm sure that for next year we will improve a lot that because now people know what to expect from this new format.

DAVID HAGGERTY: Just to maybe add to that. I think one of the other things is, that I think many of our nations are here, the presidents and the leadership of the nations, to watch the event. And I think we've learned a lot of how they can engage more.

So as Gerard said, I mean, we're evaluating, we're going to listen to all the stakeholders. We feel that it's a fantastic start, a great foundation, but there are always improvements, as Gerard said, that we will make.

HEATHER BOWLER: Could I ask that we ask questions in English? There's actually quite a number of nationalities represented in the room today. So could I ask the questions going forward to be in English. Thank you.

Q. I think for both of you, too many tournaments, the end of the year usually it was a place for Davis Cup Final. But ATP finishes on Sunday, Monday, you know what I mean. The relation with them can go better. Because it's too much for the calendar.
DAVID HAGGERTY: I think that, let's face it, in tennis one of the biggest challenges we face as a sport is the calendar. And the ITF and Kosmos have always said that we are very open to have conversations, and we will with the ATP, there's new leadership, to talk about the calendar.

At the same time, there's tradition of tennis. And it was great to see, I think it was 87 players that came here for the finals. So each team, not every team, but each team could have up to five players.

So again, we're happy to continue to talk about it. But I think the addition showed that there is a great support from the players.

GERARD PIQUÉ: I have nothing to add.

Q. For Gerard Piqué. Some players said that will be better to add more dates to the competition because we have more rest for the next match. What about the new schedule for this competition and not the end of the year, to move to September or October?
GERARD PIQUÉ: Yes, this is something that is on the table. In the last year, we've tried to sit down with the ATP, obviously the situation with the former president wasn't ideal to sit down and try to arrive to a deal. Now there will be some changes, so we are expecting that so we can sit down again.

I think that in the future, and I think that we said it, ITF and Kosmos, we are really open to sit down with the ATP and try to arrive to a deal, to make a unique competition, a super event of two weeks and try to find the bestest part in the calendar.

I think that during this week, Novak and Rafa, No. 1 and No. 2 in the world right now, have expressed that they want the same, they want just one event, and if it's possible, to put it in September of two weeks. And this is something that for us, I mean, since day one, we expressed we want to arrive to this deal.

I think it's the best for tennis. It makes no sense to have right now two different competitions that are very similar. And this is the way we are going. We are very happy that in the next few months I think we will start talking again with the ATP. And I hope in the next few months we can announce something.

Q. Gerard, can you tell us a little bit more about the amount of TV rights and the global audience in every country? For someone that is very bad at figures.
GERARD PIQUÉ: To be fair, we don't have the numbers yet. I can give you just Spain, they are the ones that we have. And Spain have been amazing. I think that we have overtake even football games here in Spain even. You know they are very important.

But yeah, once we have it, we will announce it. I mean, everything that we have a number, we announce it. But we didn't play even the final yet so let me wait until the final ends and the we will announce for some numbers.

DAVID HAGGERTY: If I could just add to that. I would say from a media perspective, social media, all platforms of media, you cannot compare any other year that we've had before to this year. I mean, it is covered around the world, social media you see quite a bit of coverage. There is broadcast, there are some things that I'm sure we can do better in different countries as we evolve to get even more viewership.

But I think the social and the media platform, and thank you to everybody in this room, it's been very, very well covered.

Q. David, I think there's no space for Laver Cup, Davis Cup, and ATP Cup in one same year. I think something has to disappear. Also, for example, this week, Davis Cup week, there is a feeling from Argentina, a little country, but I can share with you our feelings. It was more important Federer playing in Latin America, 50,000 people in Chile, 70,000 people in Argentina, 44,000 people yesterday in Mexico. I think something had to disappear because it's very difficult to have in the same schedule these big tournaments plus exhibitions.
DAVID HAGGERTY: Well, I think that we have to remember, there's 119-year history that Davis Cup has and very important place within tennis and the calendar. The calendar is the challenge. I mean, it always has been.

But again, we can only control what we can control, and that is Davis Cup. And we're doing the best that we can. And I think you see the great atmosphere that was here this week, and we're very proud of that. And again, we'll sit down with other tennis bodies, but can't make any promises on what might happen with other events.

Q. We have known each other for a long, long time. Congratulations on many wonderful moments here. The theme is: New era, same soul.

Q. From our country, maybe there were 150 fans, very quiet fans, and very discouraging. And also perhaps worse yet, there was a very, very minor TV platform in America. Many moments like yesterday I believe in America, I believe Canada also, where it was virtually unseen. We're trying to get the soul of this wonderful competition around the world, Dave. How did that happen and what exactly are you going to do to change it next year, Dave?
DAVID HAGGERTY: Well, as we have said, we're going to be evaluating after the event everything that we've done. We've had some meetings here with various broadcasters from the US, and we'll see what we do next year.

Again, we're looking at the world in total. There were existing contracts in place. And we'll continue to evaluate and make decisions.

I think you have the same vision that we do, which is to make sure that this is seen as many places by as many people and followed around the world. And that's something that, again, is something we can improve.

Q. You played yesterday your match with Barcelona, I don't know how you can manage. I want to know if you have a word with Leo Messi about the match against Spain and Argentina, did you make a joke or something like that? And I want to know also, as I saw a lot of your opponents here in the week, if you invited Leo?
GERARD PIQUÉ: Yeah, it was fun because on Friday I think it was the quarterfinal between Spain and Argentina, we were in the hotel, because next day we were playing here in Madrid, and we followed the tie with him. And obviously if Argentina would qualify, Leo maybe would be here. Of course, at the end Spain qualified.

And yeah, I mean it was fun. I think it was an incredible tie, decided in the last set of the last match. And he likes tennis very much and he likes to support his country. So for sure if Argentina would qualify to semifinal he would be here.

Q. A question to both of you. I wonder how much of a priority it is for you, if you are able to agree this new date in September, perhaps for an extended competition, to involve the women as well and have a combined World Cup of Tennis for both men and women?
DAVID HAGGERTY: Well, I think you may remember, we, the ITF, had talked about a mixed team competition. We think having the men and women together would make sense.

We recently announced, as you know, the Fed Cup finals will be in Budapest for the next three years beginning in April 2020. Long-term, it would make a lot of sense to have a combined competition, our Davis Cup and our Fed Cup kind of the World Cup of Tennis together.

But I think we take things step by step because it takes a lot of stakeholders to make a change like that. But it could be great for the game.

Q. Would Gerard be able to answer that question as well? At the moment Kosmos are not investing in the Fed Cup. Is that something that is of interest to you?
GERARD PIQUÉ: Yeah, for sure. And since day one, I think we showed interest to the ITF. What we said to them is obviously we wanted to go step by step. And Davis Cup on itself, it was a big, big project. We don't want to try to do too much because then you don't do things right.

And at the end of the day, ITF decided to go to, for the next three years, to Budapest. So for us now, we are fully focused on trying to year-by-year make this competition and this event even better and bigger. And in three years, let's see where we are.

Q. Both of you. If you're thinking about the city after Madrid from 2021, and about the rule, the rule of the walkover, if you're thinking to change it, about this problem of 6-Love and 6-Love and if it could be better and could change. Thank you.
GERARD PIQUÉ: Yeah, I mean, in terms of thinking for 2021, we have a lot of different options on the table. Right now, Madrid already expressed the interest of doing another year. We have interest from Asia, from North America, South America. So we will decide in the next months. There is a tender process that we have to respect.

And at the end of the day all the options will be put there and we'll decide.

And which was your question, about the rule? Yeah, I think that this is something that we have to work in the next few months. Obviously something that you don't want to see. But it's true that I think it was a medical issue, but in the future we will try to find a solution for that rule, for sure.


Q. (Question in Spanish.)
GERARD PIQUÉ: (Answers in Spanish.)

Do you want me to answer in English?

HEATHER BOWLER: Yes, please.

GERARD PIQUÉ: So basically he asked me about, that I answered before, to build a fourth court to try to solve the problem with the issue about the times, and if it's in WiZink Center here in Madrid or maybe to build a fourth court here in La Caja Mágica.

Basically I answered that both options are right now are on the table. We will ask the players, at the end of the day, the opinion of the players are the most, that matters for us, to see what they want, what they prefer.

But, yeah, we had the experience of the timing this year. And for next year it's something that it worries us, but not too much because it's easy to solve. So we will work on that.

HEATHER BOWLER: Two more questions in Spanish.

Q. (Question in Spanish.)
GERARD PIQUÉ: (Answers in Spanish.)

In English?

HEATHER BOWLER: Yes, please.

GERARD PIQUÉ: So, basically, he asks a little bit about what we think about all these events and how everything went. I said that we have very positive input and thoughts about the event.

I think that we are very happy about everything, how has been all this week. It's true that we have to solve different issues. The most important one maybe is in terms of the timing and the hours.

We expect that some games will be finished late, but obviously 4:00 was too late. That day all the games, they were very long. But we will have to be more creative in the future. I think this is not a big issue. It's something we have to think how we do it.

We had different problems in terms of logistics that I think it's normal for a first year. It's true that also in terms of technology, the app and the website, people wanted to follow the results and sometimes it didn't work. This is because there were so many users connecting at the same time and we didn't expect that and sometimes it didn't work. This is something that for sure we'll have to do better for next year.

But the most important thing by far is, and that we have to keep that, is the soul of the Davis Cup. And this is what I keep promise of. When I see the players celebrating when they qualify, laughing and enjoying. At the same time, when they lose, they are in tears. I mean, all of these, there is no event in the year, in tennis, that you can see that, even in the Grand Slams. I mean, I don't see players crying when they lose.

So this is how important it is for them to play Davis Cup and represent their country. And we have to keep that. This is the most important thing. And from this base, if we keep that, that for sure we will, we can -- I mean, we can organize an incredible and unique event in the future.

HEATHER BOWLER: Thank you. One last question and then after that last question, if I could ask you to just remain in the room because we have a short presentation. Last question here.

Q. You talk about Roger Federer. He's not here this year. He won't be here next year. He's a fantastic player, but he's also a fantastic businessman because he took the good sport with the Laver Cup. How can you deal with that? Isn't that your biggest issue?
GERARD PIQUÉ: I mean, I think that every time you ask me about Roger, it seems that I have to talk about him.

DAVID HAGGERTY: Maybe I should.

GERARD PIQUÉ: Okay. (Smiling.)

No, but since the day that we arrived to deal with the ITF and then in the Assembly we -- the federations approved the new format -- we've tried to sit down with him. I had so many conversations with his agent, with Tony Godsick, and since day one it was a very good relationship. In fact, Tony Godsick said once that, I think it would be good if you invite him and you send a formal letter, and we did that. I mean, we send a formal letter of invitation to Tony Godsick so he can send it to Roger.

And all of a sudden, I don't know what happened, but all what they were saying was not the same that we -- that they were saying in the meetings. And that's it.

I don't want to create any situation or -- he prefers not to play Davis Cup. Now even if he wants he can't because Switzerland is not qualified.

But it's okay, he's a great player. He's, for a lot of people, considered the best player in the history of this game. And I really respect, and I said a lot of times, because he is my idol, he was my idol since a kid when I was following tennis.

For a lot of reasons, that some of them I know and some of them maybe I don't know, the situation is this one. They have, or he has Laver Cup and, obviously, it's his baby, his competition, and he wants to protect and obviously to create as big as possible this exhibition. And I totally understand.

So, in our side, what we will try to do is to try to put Davis Cup obviously in another level because we are talking about 119 years of history.

And, I mean, I think that you cannot compare both events. But we will try to do the best we can for our competition to make it as big as possible. And this is our work and our job to do.

HEATHER BOWLER: David, did you want to make a comment?

DAVID HAGGERTY: Yeah. So, I mean, to me, I think there are many other competitions, tournaments throughout the year in the calendar. I think that we, from an ITF perspective, have always said the calendar is quite congested and full.

And that's where tennis stakeholders need to sit down and have conversations about the calendar. Because when you have an event like the Davis Cup, with tremendous history and heritage, you don't just make changes without a lot of thought. We made thoughtful changes here for the Davis Cup Finals to elevate the event to make it somewhere that the players would want to come. And I think we've seen that.

So I think it's working with other stakeholders, talking to them about the calendar and the events, to do what's best for tennis. And we've always said with Kosmos that we're open for those conversations, and we'll have happen.

HEATHER BOWLER: Thank you. Just if I can just ask for a few more minutes of your time.

So every Davis Cup or Fed Cup the ITF presents a media award in recognition of career achievement and commitment and dedication, not just to tennis, but also to Davis Cup and Fed Cup.

So we are actually going to present that media award today, and I'll hand over to David to take the proceedings forward.

DAVID HAGGERTY: Thank you. Thank you, Heather.

First of all, before we finish, I'd like to just thank everyone again for being here, for your commitment this week, and for being able to cover tennis the way that you have.

We know that your jobs are difficult. We know that there are always budget issues. Places you travel. Places you can't. The time that you spend. The passion that you have. So thank you for being here.

So in 2016, we introduced an award to honor journalists who have made major contributions over a long period of time covering Davis Cup or Fed Cup. In this case, this is for Davis Cup.

And we have someone who we're going to honor today who's been covering Davis Cup for over 30 years at all levels of the competition at both home and away.

And she is a very familiar face to many of you on the tennis circuit; in fact everybody in this room. And well respected by fellow journalists and players alike.

So I'd like to ask Doris Henkel to come forward and receive this award.


DORIS HENKEL: I thank you very much for that. And I have no idea, no clue at all. And I'm not sure if I deserve it, but I covered Davis Cup since 1985. My first final was in Munich when Germany lost to Sweden.

And I still love it. I'm not sure if I love the new one as much as I love the old one, but there is room for improvement, I promise.


DAVID HAGGERTY: Well, thank you. Thank you very much.


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