Changes needed for Davis Cup, says Courier

Davis Cup captains Lleyton Hewitt and Jim Courier from America.
Davis Cup captains Lleyton Hewitt and Jim Courier from America.

AMERICAN Davis Cup captain Jim Courier says the traditional teams competition needs to adopt change as national associations debate whether to play matches over best-of-three sets.

The International Tennis Federation's full committee will vote in August on whether ties from next year should break with history and do away with best-of-five sets and also be played over two days, instead of three.

Tennis Australia performance chief Wally Masur said he does not know how TA will vote at the August meeting, but says he, team captain Lleyton Hewitt and coach Jason Stoltenberg are traditionalists who do not want to see the competition changed.

TA did not reply when asked last month by News Corp Australia how it will vote.

"There will be a broader conversation with TA as to what that submission is. My indications would be that TA would probably take a more conservative, historical approach to Davis Cup than most countries," Masur said.

"I haven't spoken with the board. Obviously Lleyton and Stolts are ones to favour the more traditional format. I am too."

ITF president David Haggerty, an American, favours best-of-three sets in Davis Cup, as does the French Tennis Federation, as a way to encourage better involvement from the top players and engage spectators more effectively.

"If you dislike change, you'll dislike irrelevance even more," former world No.1 Courier told the New York Times.

"When you lose support of the top players, as we did in the first round this year, I think it's clear that you have a declining asset that you need to refurbish if you want it to be pristine again. What I like about this move is that he (Haggerty) consulted the players."

Masur said Australia has always been an enthusiastic supporter of Davis Cup and a majority of the country's players have supported it over the years.

"Something I would have looked at before anything else probably is to say if you make the final, those two teams get a bye in the first round as a way to alleviate the workload of the players who play in the final,"he said.

"That recommendation (for best-of-three sets matches played over two days) got some input from the top players in the world and that gives it a bit of impetus.''

Australia's Nick Kyrgios, Serbia's Novak Djokovic and American Jack Sock are rare as top-20 players to have agreed to play the first two rounds of this year's Davis Cup.

The competitions requires up to four full weeks of commitment if a player's team reaches the final.

Veterans Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, who have both won Davis Cups for their countries, played neither round.

World No.1 Andy Murray and Wimbledon runner-up Milos Raonic are among those to cite injury for their absence from a tie this year.

Topics:  davis cup lleyton hewitt tennis australia

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