Int’l Tennis Federation to meet in Vietnam as tournaments in crisis

By AFP   June 6, 2017 | 11:02 pm PT
Int’l Tennis Federation to meet in Vietnam as tournaments in crisis
Great Britain's Andy Murray in action during his French open match against Argentina's Juan Martin Del Potro in June. Murray, as well as nine-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal, didn't play in the Davis Cup quarter-finals this year. Photo by Reuters/Benoit Tessier
Changes are needed as Davis Cup has faced difficulties attracting top players like Murray and Nadal.

Davis Cup matches will be played on a best-of-three set basis instead of the traditional five, organizers announced Tuesday, as a number of changes were made to the 117-year-old event.

The team tournament has struggled to get the sport's top players to commit to it on a regular basis in an already crammed tennis schedule.

In a series of reforms, it was announced that all singles matches will be played as best-of-three sets.

However, Davis Cup ties will retain the three-day format, with doubles still played on the Saturday over the best-of-five sets.

Other changes will see the finalists in both the Davis Cup and Fed Cup women's tournament guaranteed the choice of hosting their first-round tie in the following year.

The “dead rubber” policy will also be amended to reduce the number of meaningless rubbers.

"The Davis Cup and Fed Cup are two of the most iconic team competitions in sport, but there is no doubt change is needed to ensure that we maximize their full potential," said International Tennis Federation president David Haggerty.

"While still needing annual general meeting approval, we are confident that our national associations will see that to vote for these reforms is to vote for the long-term future of our competitions and our sport."

The ITF also said that bids to host fixed venue finals for Davis Cup and Fed Cup have been received and are being assessed.

The changes are expected to be approved at the next annual general meeting of the ITF in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam in August.

World number one Andy Murray and nine-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal didn't play in the Davis Cup quarter-finals this year.

Nadal also skipped the opening round.

Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka opted out of the first-round tie against the United States where Switzerland lost 5-0.

Novak Djokovic, however, has played both ties for Serbia and has vowed to feature in September's semi-final against France even though it starts just five days after the end of the U.S. Open.

Earlier this year, Spanish football star Gerard Pique revealed he was part of a consortium planning a World Cup of tennis tournament to rival the Davis Cup.

The plans which would see the whole tournament take place in one location have reportedly been backed by Murray, Djokovic and Nadal.

Nadal has been one of the Davis Cup schedule's most vocal critics.

"For many years they have been static," Nadal said of the ITF when speaking about the proposed new tournament in April in Madrid.

"They haven't moved with the times or looked for new solutions."

Djokovic also backed the plans after saying he had met personally with Pique "several times" and hoped the tournament "would come to life".

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