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Budapest to host revamped 12-team Fed Cup finals

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London (AFP)

An overhaul of the Fed Cup format will see 12 nations compete in a six-day event in Budapest from 2020-2022 with a huge boost in prize money on offer, the International Tennis Federation announced on Thursday.

This year's finalists, Australia and France, hosts Hungary and one yet to be confirmed wild card nation will be joined by the winners from eight qualifying matches to be held in February.

The tournament will be played on clay with the first outing of the new format from April 14-19 April 2020.

A total prize pot of $18 million will be offer with $12 million going to players and $6 million to national tennis associations.

The finals will feature four groups of three teams, with the winners progressing to the semi-finals and final. All matches will consist of two singles and one doubles.

However, the rebrand has not gone down well in some quarters, especially with the Czech Republic who have won six of the last eight editions including last season.

"It's a model that goes against the national federations. When, as a member, I was acquainted with the changes, I pulled out of an ITF committee in protest," Czech Tennis Federation president Ivo Kaderka was quoted as saying by Tenisovy svet tennis newssite.

Petr Pala, the Czech captain, told the Czech News Agency (CTK): "I'm against it but unfortunately this is reality.

"As regards the April date, it's clear they only have April and the end of the year, and I think April is unfortunate. If they wanted to succeed, they should have held it after all or at least three of the Grand Slams."

The move to reform the Fed Cup comes after a similar overhaul of the Davis Cup in men's tennis that will see 18 teams compete for the title and $20m of prize money in the inaugural finals in Madrid this November.

"The launch of the Fed Cup Finals will create a festival of tennis that elevates this flagship women's team competition to a new level, yet remains loyal to the historic core of the Fed Cup," said ITF President David Haggerty.

The previous format, which saw the eight-team World Group decided over three ties separated over the course of the season, was criticised for being too strung out and not protecting player welfare which led many top players to stop representing their countries.

"The format respects the existing women?s tennis calendar by reducing Fed Cup to two weeks of competition in existing Fed Cup weeks, and supporting player health through the extension of the off season by moving the Finals from November to April." added the ITF.

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