The Fed Cup and Davis Cup finals have been pushed back to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, the International Tennis Federation announced on Friday.

The Fed Cup finals in Budapest have been rescheduled for April 13-18 next year after they were postponed indefinitely while the Davis Cup finals due to take place in Madrid at the end of November were postponed by a year. The rescheduled competition will begin the week starting November 22 next year and will comprise the 18 teams which qualified for the 2020 edition.

“This is a tough decision to have to make, but delivering an international team event on this scale while guaranteeing the health and safety of all involved ultimately poses too great a risk,” said ITF president David Haggerty.

The revamped 12-team women’s competition was initially due to take place on indoor clay in the Hungarian capital in April but was called off in response to the virus outbreak.

“Due to the ongoing challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic, it has not been possible to reschedule the postponed Finals in 2020,” the ITF said in a statement.

“In addition to the Laszlo Papp Arena being unavailable over the latter part of the year, there remain significant logistical and regulatory challenges that mean hosting an indoor mass gathering while guaranteeing the health and safety of all involved will not be feasible.”

Eight Fed Cup play-off ties to be held at various venues around the world were also put on hold in March. They will be played next February.

“While it is regrettable that the Finals will not be able to take place this year, we are confident that we will be able to host a superb event in Budapest in April 2021,” said ITF president David Haggerty.

“In these extraordinary times, we believe that the best way forward in order both to protect the health and safety of all involved and to best respect the integrity of the competition is to extend this year’s Fed Cup into 2021, with the event returning to an annual basis the following year.”

The move to reform the Fed Cup followed a similar overhaul of the Davis Cup in men’s tennis, with Madrid hosting the inaugural finals in Madrid last November.

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 protracted and for not protecting player welfare which led many top players to stop representing their countries.

The new-look tournament will offer a total prize pot of $18 million 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. France won last year’s competition after beating Australia 3-2 in the final in Perth.

With AFP Inputs