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Tennis opens up bidding for hosts of Davis, Fed Cup finals

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LONDON — Cities will bid to stage the finals of the Davis and Fed Cups as part of a revamp of the international team tennis competitions.

The International Tennis Federation will launch a bidding process in December, although the governing body is yet to determine whether the same city will host the men’s and women’s competitions.

Currently one of the finalists, based on the draw, decides the venue. Croatia is now looking for a suitable location for its men to host Argentina in the Davis Cup final in November.

“By having a full year or two to plan we can do more for sponsors and fans with a stadium that’s an appropriate size,” ITF President David Haggerty said the organization’s London headquarters.

Working on the ITF project are consultants from the CSM sports marketing company chaired by Sebastian Coe, president of track and field’s governing body, the IAAF.

The ITF will assess whether to select a host city from an emerging market which can potentially offer higher financial returns or one of the traditional tennis heartlands where the crowds could be larger and more boisterous.

“It’s a balancing act, making sure we get bids from a number of different cities so we can make comparisons,” Haggerty told The Associated Press. “But it’s not all about money. It’s about eyeballs and awareness. Our mission really is to develop, grow and promote tennis around the world. So we will take great caution.”

Haggerty envisages the winning bid staging the finals for two to three years. The challenge in potentially using the same venue for both competition finals at the same time is finding somewhere with enough arenas, practice courts and locker rooms.

European soccer’s Champions League final and the Super Bowl, the showpiece of the NFL season, are being examined as major events that are held at neutral venues.

The proposed Davis and Fed Cup changes must be approved by the ITF’s annual general meeting in August. The ITF anticipates a decision on successful bidding cities next year.

The ITF is also examining whether to condense the finals from three to two days and if best-of-three sets would work better for the Davis Cup rather than the current best-of-five. The Fed Cup world group could also double to 16 teams to match the men’s competition.

Nadal, Muguruza win ITF player of the year awards

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LONDON — Rafael Nadal and Garbine Muguruza have won the International Tennis Federation’s player of the year awards.

At 31, Nadal becomes the oldest ITF men’s world champion after a season in which he won a 10th French Open and a third U.S. Open.

The Spaniard also became the oldest player to finish the year at No. 1 since the ATP rankings began in 1973.

Muguruza dropped only one set en route to her first Wimbledon title and finished the year at No. 2 behind Simona Halep.

“Becoming ITF world champion in such a competitive year is amazing for me,” said Muguruza, who is also Spanish. “(Nadal) is a great role model for all of us, so it is a great moment for tennis in Spain.”

Kuznetsova out of Australian Open after left wrist surgery

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Two-time major winner Svetlana Kuznetsova has withdrawn from next month’s Australian Open after having surgery on her left wrist.

Tennis Australia on Friday said No. 12-ranked Kuznetsova and China’s Sasai Zheng, with a right knee injury, were the only players ranked in the top 100 who are confirmed as not playing the Jan. 15-28 tournament at Melbourne Park.

Serena Williams, who was pregnant while winning the 2017 Australian Open title and gave birth to her first child in September, “is anticipated to return,” Tennis Australia said.

Williams could equal Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles with another win at Melbourne Park. Serena Williams’ ranking has dropped to No. 22 during her break from the tour.