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Rakuten takes over as title partner of Davis Cup

Japanese e-commerce platform Rakuten has signed as the new title partner of the Davis Cup – tennis’s biggest international team competition.

Under the two-year deal, the tournament will be rebranded as the Davis Cup by Rakuten for 2019 and 2020. The deal also includes an option of a further two-year extension.

Rakuten’s full official designation will be the Global Innovation and Entertainment Partner and Global Presenting Partner for Davis Cup.

In an official statement, Rakuten said it will have “high visibility” during both the finals and qualifying rounds.

The deal was signed by Rakuten, Kosmos Tennis and the International Tennis Federation (ITF).

Read this: Kosmos’ Davis Cup shake-up aimed at reviving ‘commercially undervalued’ competition

In August 2018, a vote by the ITF’s 210 member states approved a 25-year partnership with Kosmos Tennis, under which the two entities will jointly operate the Davis Cup and Kosmos Tennis will manage its commercial rights.

Kosmos Tennis is a subsidiary of Kosmos Holding, the Barcelona-based sports and media investment group founded by FC Barcelona defender Gerard Piqué.

The lead financial backer of Kosmos Tennis is Hiroshi Mikitani, chairman and chief executive of Rakuten.

Also in August last year, the ITF voted to restructure the Davis Cup finals to a week-long, 18-team event from 2019 onwards.

Kosmos Tennis believes the structural revamp will make the 118-year-old competition more attractive to fans, sponsors and broadcasters, reviving its “undervalued” commercial fortunes.

Madrid has been announced as the first host of the revamped Davis Cup finals and will stage the event in 2019 and 2020.

Kosmos Tennis is investing $3bn in the event, with the aim of raising the Davis Cup to the same commercial level as the grand slams.