Davis Cup Wild Card Creates Dilemma for Spanish Tennis Stars’ Olympic Hopes

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has awarded a invitation to the Spanish team Davis cup to compete in the Finals which will be held in Malaga in November 2024 without having to play a previous round next February. What could be good news to avoid playing a qualifying round in an already loaded tennis players’ calendar, too could be fatal for Carlos Alcaraz, current number 2 in the world ranking, by take away the alleged last opportunity to meet the selection criteria to compete in the Olympic Games of Paris 2024.

First, the classification system published by the ITF and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) obliges tennis players classified by ranking who want to compete in the Olympic event have played at least two Davis Cup events during the cycle between Tokyo 2020 [2021] and Paris 2024, with one of those appointments in 2023 or 2024 itself. Alcaraz has not played any match with the team captained by David Ferrer in 2023, after falling out of the group stage due to injury and without the possibility of playing in the Finals due to Spain not being there. Now, with the wild card in 2024 there will be no eliminatory in sight and will not be able to meet the requirement either.

Also in the wire of this process is Rafael Nadal, although he will be able to take advantage of his prodigious record to be in the Roland Garros facilities at the Games. Not only has the Spaniard not been able to play the Davis Cup, but It is not even among the top 56 positions in the ATP ranking that will have places. Currently, it would be in position 662 in the last official list.

The official document… and the annex

So, can Alcaraz and Nadal be in Paris? Yes, but thanks to an annex to the classification system that is not part of the official published document that is also valid at the time of eligibility.

The IOC and ITF qualifying process speaks of a distribution of places so like this: 56 places per ranking [a 4 competidores por país el día 10 de junio de 2024]1 place for the organizing country in case it does not have places by ranking, 4 quota places distributed among Americans, Asians and Africans, and 2 invitations for tennis players who have been Olympic champions or Grand Slam winners who have been left out due to ranking, in the event that their country does not complete its four places and the player is in the TOP400 of the ATP. This last point is key in Nadal’s options, who has 22 Grand Slams and two Olympic golds, although he could not take it for granted since, today, It is not in the TOP400, There are 4 Spaniards in the TOP100 and 3 of them, in full fight within the TOP62.

For its part, as detailed in the official document, Alcaraz apparently had it even more difficult. What’s more, by not meeting the conditions of playing in Davis, he would let him out of the options of the 56 seats by ranking and would also enter the fight for one of the two invitations to Grand Slam winners. Is there anyone else with a chance to take it from him? Yeah, Andy Murray is not assured of his position by ranking [42º] which has 3 Grand Slams, one more than El Palmar, and two Olympic golds. This would have forced the disciple of Juan Carlos Ferrero to win one of the two Grand Slams prior to the closing of the deadline: or the Australian Open or Roland Garros.

But, there is a new breath of tranquility for the winner of Wimbledon 2023. The ITF together with the IOC have an attachment which makes this regulation more flexible and that opens the possibility of ‘saving’ some great tennis player that has fallen by the wayside. The key to everything is found in section 2) of this document, which is not included in the official communication of the classification system:

When the player has not met the established minimum participation requirement [en la Copa Davis]the relevant decision maker (the “Panel”), as specified in the Rules for the Olympic Tennis Event, may exercise his or her discretion to rule that a player meeting all other eligibility criteria is deemed eligible. for nomination and participation in the Olympic Games Tennis Event when special circumstances are taken into consideration.

That is, the ITF and the IOC leave themselves a wild card for these cases. Between these “special circumstancestennis players may claim to have had a injury/illness that prevented them from competing for their country, having achieved Davis Cup level too late as to have competed, the “strength of the nation” which does not allow him to be summoned or lined up and “Commitment and achievements in the Games and/or Davis Cup” in the past.

The necessary requests from the RFET

For this reason, the Royal Spanish Tennis Federation (RFET) may send an invitation request to the ITF for Alcaraz be included in the draw for the Olympic Games only attaching the medical report by ‘Carlitos that justifies his absence. There should be no problems, because The Murcian meets the rest of the criteria as detailed in the annex and, in addition, it could be argued that upon receiving an invitation from the ITF itself for the Finals, he has not been able to play the February 2024 qualifying round as would have been his intention. But it will depend on the “Panel”.

In case of Nadal It will be different because it not only has the Davis problem, although it will end up with another RFET request in the same ITF/IOC mailbox. In your case, requested protection of its ranking allowed in the ATP regulations and the “Panel” will assess that it is one of two special invitations awarded after not having been able to compete on the circuit due to injury. It remains to be seen what would happen if there were 4 Spaniards within the TOP56 and if Nadal had added to his return to be among the 400 best in the world. If the conditions are met for Nadal, With his track record, there should be no problems to be one of the two chosen, if the tennis player so wishes after his return to the competition scheduled for the beginning of the year.

What is clear is that, if there is finally a Nadal/Alcaraz doubles pairing in Paris 2024, we will have to thank the ‘happy’ annex and the “Panel”.

José Manuel Amorós is in charge of covering all sports and Olympic information. Born in Callosa de Segura (Alicante), he studied Journalism at the Miguel Hernández University and specialized with the Master of Sports Journalism at the Villanueva University Center. He trained in Mediaset’s sports editorial team, where he was a special correspondent for major events such as Euro 2020 and multiple international sports competitions. Through social networks, he has become a reference for current sports events. Its objective will be news, reports and stories of any sporting discipline you can imagine. …

Carlos Alcaraz Rafael Nadal

2023-11-26 16:53:09
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