Weeks After Losing Key Vote, ITF To Trial Best-Of-Three Sets In Zonal Davis Cup Ties
The International Tennis Federation will trial a new format for the Davis Cup in 2018 in a bid to make the event more appealing to a wider audience.
In a decision approved by the ITF’s board of directors, ties will be played over two days with matches reduced to best-of-three sets. The trial will be implemented from February onwards for Zone I and II competitions, but the changes will not affect the World Group. In the new structure, two singles matches will take place on day one followed by a doubles match and the final two singles matches on the second day.
“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.” ITF president David Haggerty said in a statement.
“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.”
The decision by the ITF comes just after two months they lost a vote to reduced matches to three sets. An an annual AGM meeting their proposal attracted 63.54% support, falling short of the two third majority required. It was during that same meeting that the ITF was given permission to trial new projects without approval from the member nations. Allowing them to press ahead with their best-of-three idea.
Another change allows teams to increase their size from four to five players in order to give them more of a selection. This rule will also apply to the World Group. Furthermore, if a team is leading 3-0 in a tie, only the fourth match is required to be played (in a best-of-three set match). Under current rules, both the fourth and fifth matches should be played.
Due to the packed calendar of the men’s tour, the Davis Cup had previously struggled to attract big names to the competition in recent years. Meanwhile, new team tournaments are also emerging with the inaugural Laver Cup proving a success. ITF president Haggerty has repeatedly vowed to attract players back to the tie.