ITF backs Davis Cup proposals to play best-of-three sets matches

ITF backs Davis Cup proposals to play best-of-three sets matches
By PA Sport

09/03/2017 at 18:26Updated 09/03/2017 at 19:29

The International Tennis Federation's board of directors has endorsed plans to change Davis Cup matches from best-of-five sets to best-of-three.

The ITF has been looking at ways to make the competition more attractive to the leading players, who are sitting out ties in ever increasing numbers.

Davis Cup could also join Fed Cup in staging matches over two days instead of three, although that proposal remains under discussion.

A statement from the ITF read: " At their meeting in Indian Wells, the ITF Board of Directors unanimously endorsed a package of comprehensive reforms for Davis Cup and Fed Cup by BNP Paribas.

"These include Davis Cup matches being played over three sets rather than five sets following a review of current match formats.

"Further discussions on the implementation of best-of-three-sets matches across either two or three days are continuing with all stakeholders.

"All recommendations will be put to the ITF AGM in August 2017, with all changes requiring a formal vote of approval."

There is likely to be little opposition to the change of format, but other proposals put forward by ITF president David Haggerty, who has made reforming the competition a focus since his appointment in September 2015, are more controversial.

Plans for the final to be staged at a neutral venue have been particularly contentious.

Talking last November, Novak Djokovic, a member of the ATP Player Council, said: " ITF owns Davis Cup. ITF hasn't been really very helpful with the players' demands.

"The only thing that they wanted to change is the neutral final, which, talking to all the players on the council, most of the players also around the tour, nobody agrees with that.

"You're taking away from the players the one thing that players love about Davis Cup, which is the home tie, the home crowd."

Shortening the format would lessen the demand on the top players but would not address the key issue - the timing of the ties in the calendar.

This year's first-round matches were staged the weekend after the Australian Open, with Djokovic the only top-10 player to take part.