Is it Time to Change the Davis Cup?

There have always been team competitions in tennis but it’s time for a change I think. Major changes need to be made to the long-winded and often confusing Davis Cup tournament. Surely, it’s time for major changes to this tournament?

When the Grand Slam tournaments are held, they become the focus of attention by fans all over the world. It’s simply not the case when the Davis Cup tournaments take place. Not just that, they are tournaments that the top players in the world often don’t think twice about not competing in.

Take the recent Davis Cup ties in the World Group for example. Who made the decision to hold those matches just a week after the first Grand Slam of the year? That automatically meant that several of the world’s best players decided not to play, particularly as it could mean two five-set matches in the space of three days.

The Great Britain vs Canada tie was minus Andy Murray and Milos Raonic. Neither Roger Federer or Stan Wawrinka played for Switzerland. Rather than fielding two of the top ten players in the world, they fielded players ranked 124 and 147 and lost 5-0 to the USA. None of the top five ranked players from Argentina played for their country as they lost to Italy 3-2 who were without Fabio Fognini. World ranked 11 David Goffin was replaced by the 141st ranked Arthur De Greef. The one big shock was that Novak Djokovic played for Serbia, though he only played one match.  If Novak continues to play then the 3/1 at Bet365 on Serbia winning the Davis Cup look pretty tasty.

"Novak Djokovic" (CC BY-SA 2.0) by y.caradec

“Novak Djokovic” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by y.caradec

We have to wait until April for the quarter-finals, September for the semis and November until the Final.  The schedulers have been up to their games again with the semi-finals taking place the week after the US Open and the Final, the week after the ATP Tours finals at the O2 in London.

It’s just crazy that players are being asked to play in the Davis Cup immediately after major tournaments. Then there’s the complexity of all the different zones that make following the tournament so confusing.

Why under the current Davis Cup format do we get two singles matches on the Friday, then just one doubles match on the Saturday? By the time we get to the Sunday and the final two singles, the end result might already be known and the final rubber is often a dead one. We think it’s time for change.

There has been talk of format changes and Novak Djokovic is upset over the thought of neutral venues. The tournament is renowned for the enthusiastic way fans embrace it. But wouldn’t they prefer it if all the top players were in action?

ITF President David Haggerty is determined to change the Davis Cup format. It may be a final-four neutral venue format but there’s potential for something far more significant than that. It could potentially include the Federation Cup too, which has similar problems.

Organisers know that tennis is big business all around the world. Surely if they were to announce that the Davis Cup would be competed for at a major venue over the space of two weeks, then it could become another massive tournament and of course a tremendous money spinner. Far better, it could be done that way with qualifiers for the smaller countries taking place like that for the Football World Cup.

That way, players can fit the tournament into their schedules and we’ll have a team tournament that features the very best players in the world representing their countries. Until then them Davis Cup just lacks meaning when the absence of top players causes the elimination of countries such as Switzerland and could easily have seen Great Britain eliminated by Canada.

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