By Ros Satar

  • With 12 votes, the LTA issued a statement on the eve of the ITF AGM of its intention to oppose the new Davis Cup proposal for wide-reaching reforms
LONDON, UK – The LTA issues a statement on their intention to vote on the Davis Cup reforms at the ITF’s AGM to be held on Thursday.

 

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Ever since the wide-ranging reforms had been proposed there have been varying measures of uproar – from players who felt that their opinions had not been heard, to fans who were very much opposed to the thought of neutral venues and the removal of the current, traditional structure that has been in place for more that 100 years.

 

The Proposed Reforms

France win the Davis Cup final, 2017

Photo by Isopix/REX/Shutterstock |
France win the Davis Cup final, 2017

The proposed changes to the format of Davis Cup by BNP Paribas forms part of the list of reforms that will be put to vote by its member nations at the AGM on Thursday 16 August. The format changes to Davis Cup that nations will vote on, to take effect from 2019, include:

  • The creation of an annual season-ending Davis Cup Finals event in a world class European location to crown the world champions.
  • The creation of a new 24-team home and away qualifying event played in February, with the winning nations through to the Finals and the losing nations competing in Zone Group action.
  • An 18-team Finals, featuring 12 qualifiers, the previous year’s four semi-finalists and two wild card nations. They will consist of six round-robin groups of three teams followed by quarterfinals, semi-finals and the final.
  • The six group winners plus two second-placed teams with the best records based on sets won and games won will qualify for the quarterfinals.
  • The teams placed 17th and 18th will be immediately relegated to the Zone Groups, while the 12 teams placed from 16th to 5th will play in the following year’s qualifier event.
  • Ties contested at the Finals will consist of two singles matches and one doubles match, all played on one day. Ties contested in the qualifying event and in Zone Groups I and II will consist of four singles matches and one doubles match, played over two days.
  • Singles matches at all levels of the competition will be best-of-three tiebreak sets. Doubles matches at all levels of the competition will be best-of-three tiebreak sets with regular ad scoring.

 

The LTA’s position

Andy Murray celebrates with the GB team on winning the Davis Cup Final 2015

Andy Murray celebrates with the GB team on winning the Davis Cup Final 2015 | (Photo by William Van Hecke/Corbis via Getty Images)

The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) has today informed the International Tennis Federation (ITF) that, regrettably, it is unable to support their proposed Davis Cup reforms at this time, and will oppose the resolution at the ITF AGM tomorrow.

The work the ITF does in governing and developing tennis across the world is vital, and a strong ITF is essential for the good of our sport. The LTA remains fully supportive of the ITF and its leadership and will work together on the future of Davis Cup regardless of the outcome of tomorrow’s vote.

Reform of the competition is needed. This is a special competition with deep roots in tennis, which has the ability to capture national pride in a way few others in our sport can. All of tennis wants to see a financially viable and sustainable competition that is supported by both players and fans that the sport can unite behind.

Having considered all the arguments, and consulted widely, the LTA remains concerned regarding aspects of the current proposal:

  1. The LTA’s vision is to grow and open up the sport. Concerns remain that the proposed format and its impact on the tennis calendar, extending the season for players, risks player participation and therefore fan appeal;
  2. Despite some real progress in developing the format, there remain a number of outstanding queries, particularly on the clarity of how the business case will work in practice, which has led the LTA to conclude that it is too early to seek approval;
  3. The proposal has created division amongst the member nations. The strength of the ITF in governing and developing tennis across the world will be reinforced by bringing tennis together behind a unified proposal and the LTA feels we have not yet reached that point.

Scott Lloyd, CEO of the LTA said: “The Davis Cup is loved by so many people in our country. From Roger Taylor to Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski, and more recently Andy and Jamie Murray, the Davis Cup has seen some of the greatest players in the history of British tennis deliver some of the most memorable moments in our sport. The competition plays a vital role in supporting the LTA’s vision to open up tennis in Britain.

“We take our responsibilities with regard to voting on the future of the competition extremely seriously and after consulting widely, regrettably, we do not feel we can support the proposals as they stand. The LTA remains fully supportive of the ITF and its leadership and we will work together on the future of Davis Cup regardless of the outcome of tomorrow’s vote.”

 

Murray: Not against change, can always change it back if it doesn’t work

Andy Murray in the first round of the Fever-Tree Championships, ATP Queen's Club 2018

Andy Murray in the first round of the Fever-Tree Championships, ATP Queen’s Club 2018 | (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

After his loss at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, Andy Murray, who was part of the winning Great Britain team in 2015 had some views on the current plethora of team-competition options that have been developing over the past year or so.

He told reporters: “I don’t think having like two team competitions six weeks apart, I don’t see that as being a positive thing. But the ATP and the ITF are not working together on it, so it’s obviously most likely both are going to end up having, because if the ITF waited to take a little bit more time over things and the ATP go ahead with their event the beginning of the year in Australia and that’s a big success, then that’s very negative for the ITF.

“So one thing I think is for sure is that Davis Cup needed to change, because pretty much all of the players that I have spoken to love playing Davis Cup,but then lots of players don’t commit to playing it. So that would suggest there is something not right, whether that’s a scheduling thing, the fact it comes after slams, you know, changing surfaces, like is straight after a slam. And normally the Grand Slams come at the end of quite an intense stretch.

“Like here you’ve got Washington, Cincinnati, Canada, US Open, you should really be taking a break after that, but then switching surfaces potentially and playing a few best-of-five-set matches on a new surface is not really great for the body.

“I do think something needed to change, but there is obviously quite a significant change. But I have said this many times, I’m also not against it. I don’t see why you can’t make a change, and if it doesn’t work and the players don’t like it and the fans don’t like it, you can always go back. It doesn’t have to be permanent.

“But something needed to change. I think if it was every couple years maybe would have been a good start potentially. But who knows what’s going to happen.”

 

ITF Response to the LTA

At the time of writing, the ITF had issued a statement in response to the news that the LTA were itending to vote against the proposals:

 

The vote at the ITF AGM takes place on Thursday, in Florida.

 

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