Davis Cup Changes

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has announced major changes to take place in the Davis Cup event … and it has met mixed reviews.

Like The World Cup

According to ESPN.com, “beginning next year, the top team event in men’s tennis will be decided with a season-ending, 18-team tournament at a neutral site, creating an event that the International Tennis Federation believes will be more attractive to elite players who have often passed on competing for their countries while already facing a crowded schedule.

“Teams will play one week in February to advance to the championship in November, replacing the current Davis Cup format that is played over four weekends throughout the year.

New Prize Pool

“And players will be competing for what the ITF says rivals Grand Slam prize money after a $3 billion, 25-year agreement that was approved Thursday at the organization’s conference in Orlando, Florida. A spokesman said about 71 percent of the delegates voted for the reform.

“The finalists will be placed into six, three-team groups for round robin play, involving two singles matches and one doubles match, all best-of-three-sets — instead of the current format that has four singles matches and one doubles match that are best-of-five. The winners, along with the next two teams with the best records, will advance to the single-elimination quarterfinals.”

Critics Question the Moves

Critics of the new plan say it involves too much change to fundamental elements of an event that has been around for more than a century. Tennis Australia commented, “Reform is vital for the competition, but this proposal takes away too much of what makes the Davis Cup unique and special, especially the home and away aspect.”

Winder Bill writes, “If I read the two singles, one doubles format correctly, what stops “sandbagging” typical of USTA rated league tennis where a team does not think it’s #1 player (doubles team) can beat the other so it plays it’s #1 at #2?

“Think of Spain playing Great Britain and Andy Murray plays Verdasco at #2 singles instead of Nadal at #1.  Maybe requiring the #1 vs #2 selection to be based upon current ranking?

Need For Change

I believe that the Davis Cup coverage – particularly in America – has become a sports-irrelevant side note.  And this new combined approach will give it the kind of focus it has lost over the years.

What do you think?

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9 thoughts on “Davis Cup Changes

  1. Sacrilege ! Tradition – they should change the name as this is not the Davis Cup. Doubtful whether the round robin format will attract a huge TV audience. It’s just an extension of the season ending exhibition currently played at the O2 in London, also a ridiculous event.
    No doubt it will include lots of very loud music, raucous crowds encouraged to cheer & shout, on court coaching with microphones, gushing on court interviews, & extended bathroom breaks.
    What tennis really needs are 4 simple rule changes:
    1. No towels except at change-overs. What’s wrong with sweat bands ?
    2. Players about to serve must accept the first 2 balls from ballboys/girls. The ludicrous pretence of examining 5/6 balls must stop. Who do they think they’re kidding ?
    3. Players about to serve must not bounce the ball more than twice. Cilic v Djokovic – I’d rather watch paint dry !
    4. No sitting down at change-overs. How many other sports allow that ?
    End of !

    Howard, but what do you really feel??? 🙂 thanks, george

  2. To me the Davis Cup format needed changing. And while these radical changes may not be everyone’s liking, they are far better than leaving it unchanged. The 2 out of 3 set format is much better suited for TV viewing. While a tense 5 set match is exciting, in this day and age few are willing or able to watch for upwards of 5 hours.

    Ted, i am with you… if it wasn’t for “fast forward” on my remote, i couldn’t watch. thanks, george

  3. Sounds like a very good move to me. But, also like Howard’s suggested rules change ideas. Maybe add in no shrieking. 🙂

    K. That is why I use the mute button watching women’s tennis! Thanks. George

  4. I love it. always wanted to format to change similar to world cup or Olympics
    what I don’t like is that it will be every year every two years would be much better

    Willy, i think a i agree with that. thanks, george

  5. I really like Howard’s ideas. Particularly the “toweling off” after every single point and the 25 bounces before serving. No other sport allows toweling off every time you sweat. It starts on the very first point! It’s a habit that could be changed. No one runs out to the mound after every pitch in a baseball game. I would also love to see a change in tossing the ball up to serve and then not hitting it. If you toss it then you must hit it or it’s a fault. Finally I would like to see 5 set matches eliminated. Very few people want to watch a 5 hour tennis match particularly when at least 1/2 of it toweling off,bouncing the ball, sitting down, injury and bathroom breaks and gathering up 5-6 balls before each serve. As George said, what would I do without fast forwarding?

    Jim, i am with you on every point! thanks, george

  6. I had Rotator cuff surgery 6 weeks ago today. It has been a roller coaster ride for the first 6 weeks; two steps forward, one back Sometimes one step forward and two back as I do my PT every day. The doc told me that golf was possible in three months; but tennis ??
    What can the group tell me about starting to hit some ground strokes during my rehab? Two months? Three months? Will easy hitting affect the repair if it doesn’t hurt? I am anxious but certainly do not want to start over. This is not a fun rehab I must say.

    Jim, this request may get lost on the bottom of comments; so i will try to remember to put in my next post too. Good luck! george

  7. To Jim Lavoie – my first hitting after rotator cuff surgery was in 7th month – 2-3 months way to risky as you will still be vulnerable to undoing the repair. My shoulder strength, flexibility got back to 100% by doing the rehab by the numbers and being patient . It was very uncomfortable experience but worth it unless you do damage by trying to do too much too soon. Find other less risky fitness, recreation activity until you are cleared to hit by your surgeon and physical therapist and your own analysis (all three, not just one ). Good luck!

  8. Changing the Davis Cup format was inevitable – too few top players are willing to commit to 4 weeks of Davis Cup each year. But I feel bad for the smaller countries (i.e., Bahamas, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Barbados, Cuba, Haiti, Guatemala, Jamaica, etc.) where a Davis Cup match is a major event, worthy of national attention in those countries. I have been fortunate in the past to Referee Davis Cup in all those countries and every time the passion and excitement on both sides was incredible!! Now they will get more money for the development of tennis in their countries, but they will be on the outside, looking in, as far as the competitive aspect goes.
    Singles players in Davis Cup are placed according to their ATP rankings, which eliminates sandbagging.
    Reducing matches to 2 out of 3 sets was long overdue.

    Sean, a great perspective! thanks, george

  9. I understand this change was put in largely because of efforts from people like Dave Haggerty who, when he was USTA president and even before that when he was an executive in the Tennis industry (and a NJ boy), recognized the issues with the old Davis Cup format and talked about a new format like this for years. Now that Dave heads the ITF and there are enough reform minded other people at the international level to agree, this has finally happened. Change is always hard, and there are things about the old format that no doubt will be missed. But the old format was clearly not working in today’s pro oriented game. It was a vestige of an old era of amateur players who played far less tennis year round than pros do today, and who did not live off of their prize money (or at least they were not supposed to). Do I get nostalgic for the good old days in tennis? Sure I do, all the time. I sometimes day dream about playing the US Open on grass at Forest Hills again. Ditto with white Wright & Ditson tennis balls. But without change, we would not have all of the other improvements to tennis that we now enjoy. I think the new format will be an improvement.

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