ITF to trial shorter format in lower reaches of Davis Cup
The organisers of the Davis Cup, the annual men’s teams tennis competition, are to trial a new format in the lower tiers in 2018.
The International Tennis Federation announced today that ties in the Zone Groups I and II will be played over two days, with best-of-three-set matches, starting with the first round in February.
Elite World Group ties will continue to be played over three days, with best-of-five-set matches.
The ITF is to trial teams of five (up from four at present) and a new dead rubber policy across the World Group and Zone Groups I and II in 2018.
Under the two-day format, two singles matches will continue to be played on day one, with the doubles match and both reverse singles matches on day two.
The experiments come after the ITF failed to gain the necessary approval for changes to the Davis Cup and women’s Fed Cup competitions at its AGM in Vietnam in August, but received the backing of delegates to make reforms on a trial basis as part of efforts to reinvigorate the competitions.
The governing body had wanted to introduce best-of-three-set matches across the Davis Cup in 2018, but the proposal gained only 63.5-per-cent support from member nations, short of the required two-thirds majority, in the voting.
ITF president David Haggerty said today: “We are as determined as ever to enhance our flagship team competitions for players, fans, host nations, broadcasters and sponsors. The nations voted to give the Board the flexibility to trial changes, and the board has acted quickly to make this happen in 2018.
“The Board felt it was appropriate to trial the two-day, best-of-three-set format at Zone Group level. Should the trial prove to be a success, we will be in a position to consider whether it should be applied for the World Group as well after 2018.”
Great Britain's Andy Murray, the world number three, was among players to have called for matches to be shortened to increase the participation of top players in an already crowded season.
Haggerty said: "Our priority remains to attract the top players, and these trials address some of the challenges that these players face in an increasingly crowded tennis calendar. We are working to develop player-friendly formulas that give the competitions the profile and stature they deserve."