The 2014 edition of the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas starts this weekend, on the 8th and 9th February. If the international women's competition has been played in the same format since 2005, it has changed quite a lot over the years. While there is talk of making it more attractive, the Mag used its imagination.
- Return to one of the previous formats
The legibility of the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas has been a beautiful maze since 1995 with no less than five formats changes in almost as many years. Today modelled on its big brother, the female version of the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas suffers a little from the comparison and would deserve to have its own format. To give spice and groove into this historic competition, why not revert to an old format? Which one? The format of before 1994, when the competition was held over a week. Each team was playing three games, two singles and a double. The final was taking place on the weekend. On some days, it would be possible to mobilize the best, communicate around them, make a multiplex and make of it the women's tennis event of the year.
- Mix it with the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas
Let's be honest, at the time of gender equality, separate competitions will soon become completely lame. It’s the 21st century, time for mixed teams. Let’s mix the Fed Cup and the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas. Let's go beyond them. Let's add them. Use the same format as the most prestigious international competition in tennis but with mixed teams: women's singles and men's singles on the Friday, mixed doubles on the Saturday and two simples on the Sunday. The mixed doubles obviously being the highlight of the weekend. Because who wouldn’t like to see Roger Federer pair with Stefanie Voegele, see Rafael Nadal give a kiss or glare at Carla Suarez Navarro. Because we all dreamed of seeing Kim Clijsters face Lleyton Hewitt, Jimmy Connors against Chris Evert or Andre Agassi collapse against Steffi Graf.
- Authorize the players to come with their coaches
With the Marion Bartoli and Aravane Rezai cases, the French Fed Cup by BNP Paribas team has, in recent past, experienced all the problems that can be generated by a collective competition within an individual sport. Because yes, the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas is a joyful anomaly in which athletes who are used to live in a vacuum and competing against each other all year round have to pair and accept group dynamics overnight, federal coaches and schedules that are not theirs. Which often result in beautiful moments of tension. But in 2006, the Russian team won the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas by accepting the fact that Nikolay Davydenko and Marat Safin would never eat together and train with their personal coach. Simply because they were the best.
- WTA points as rewards
The life of an average tennis player often looks like an endless road movie, made of absurd travels, standardized hotels and trainings in hazardous conditions. Because yes, the daily life of an ordinary player is to travel the world in order to earn money and WTA points. Since the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas brings ATP points since 2009, the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas should follow suit.
- Make of the Fed Cup by BNP Paribas a show the American way
American Tennis + Fed Cup, the solution lies in a marriage of convenience and a equation as easy as pie: make of the Fed Cup a show the American way, an entertainment product, midway between the Super Bowl and a NBA match instead of a program of several hours which, in some countries, has to wait for the final to be broadcasted on a public channel. How could this transformation happen? By shortening the matches. Yeah, it's been scientifically proven: humans cannot stay focused over 45 minutes straight. So a tiebreak would be enough to decide between two nations, each represented by a player. To find out who will serve first, a blind test could be organized. And during the matches, the public would have the opportunity to occupy the before and after with commercials, to throw burritos on the courts, take a look at the challenge thread imposed upon the audience, enjoy a Madonna or Bruno Mars concert at the change of sides or admire frenzied cheerleaders choreographies on sharp playlists during time-outs. Where Amazing Happens.
- Replaced the doubles with a triples
During a Fed Cup by BNP Paribas weekend, the doubles are always the highlight. First, because they are the last decisive games. Second, because they represent the best of the competition that makes of tennis a team sport. Since the public loves it, we could replace the doubles by triples. Each team would be free to use all tactics possible on the courts. The 3-0 with three players on the baseline and nobody on the volley, ideal for small teams to pack the defence without taking risks, the 1-2 with a player on the baseline and two on the volley for offensive teams. Yes, the triples could actually be a tactical game, which would give a real role to coaches and a unique show for the fans. And being a tactical game, it would also give a chance to weaker teams.