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Fed Cup follows Davis Cup with new tournament format

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LONDON — The Fed Cup is following the Davis Cup with a new tournament format.

Starting next year, the women’s tennis event will be a six-day final tournament in April with 12 teams playing for an $18 million prize on clay courts in Budapest, Hungary, the International Tennis Federation said Thursday.

The ITF has already switched the Davis Cup to a similar pattern, with the first 18-team final event to be played in November in Madrid.

“We have consulted and listened to stakeholders and worked with the WTA and its Player Council to make sure the new format represents the interests of the players,” ITF president David Haggerty said in a statement.

The changes to the Fed Cup ease the strain on the tennis calendar by going from three weeks to two, with qualifying matches in February. The current system has a final series in November, seven months after the semifinals.

However, a new round robin stage at the final tournament means players will play more matches.

Only 10 of the 12 teams at the final tournament will have qualified on merit. Organizers will offer one team a wild card and Hungary, which hasn’t played top-tier Fed Cup tennis since 2002, is guaranteed a spot as host.

“The new Fed Cup format is good for tennis and will keep tennis as a leader in women’s sports on a global level,” said tennis great Billie Jean King, the new ITF global ambassador and former U.S. Fed Cup player and captain.

The first two teams guaranteed to qualify are Australia and France, which will play in this year’s Fed Cup final in Perth in November.

U.S. Open purse to surpass $57 million

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NEW YORK — The U.S. Open total purse this year is more than $57 million, the richest in tennis history.

The men’s and women’s singles champion will each receive $3.85 million, and the men’s and women’s doubles champion teams will get $740,000. Those are both the highest payouts in U.S. Open history.

The U.S. Tennis Association said Thursday it worked with the ATP and WTA Tours to determine specific round-by-round prize money levels, and that the payouts for each round are all Grand Slam tournament records.

The payouts start at $58,000 for the first round of singles.

The USTA adds that it will make a payment of $500,000 to each tour to support the ATP and WTA Tour player programs, including pension.

The final major of the year will be played Aug. 26 through Sept. 8.

Venus Williams to play San Jose for second straight year

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SAN JOSE, Calif. — Venus Williams has committed to play in San Jose later this month, her second straight appearance in the event.

She will play her opening match of the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in the night session July 30 after reaching the 2018 quarterfinals. The seven-time Grand Slam champion is in the field for the 15th time, though the tournament moved from Stanford to San Jose last year.

The 39-year-old Williams will be a wild-card entry in the tournament.