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ITF to trial condensed Davis Cup ties

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has announced plans to test out a two-day format and best-of-three-set matches during the men’s Davis Cup team tournament in 2018.

The trial, which was approved by the ITF board of directors, will be introduced in all Zone Group I and II ties, starting with the first-round ties in February.

Under the format, two singles matches will take place on day one of the tie, with the doubles match followed by the two reserve singles matches taking place on day two. The World Group will continue to play ties over three days and best-of-five sets next year.

The ITF board also approved a trial to increase the size of teams in the World Group and Zone Groups I and II from four to a maximum of five players, while no fifth rubber will be played if the fourth rubber is decisive – following the existing example of the Davis Cup final.

The changes have been designed to make the format more flexible for competing teams and players. The ITF board was given the authority to decide on trials in the Davis Cup and the Fed Cup women’s competition in a vote by member nations at the governing body’s annual general meeting in August.

“We are as determined as ever to enhance our flagship team competitions for players, fans, host nations, broadcasters and sponsors,” ITF president David Haggerty (pictured) said. “The nations voted to give the board the flexibility to trial changes, and the board has acted quickly to make this happen in 2018.

“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.”

A number of other reforms have also been introduced for the Davis Cup and Fed Cup from 2018, including reducing match court availability and practice court requirements to reduce hosting costs for national associations and reducing pre-tie commitments for players in the Davis Cup.

Haggerty added: “Our priority remains to attract the top players, and these trials address some of the challenges that these players face in an increasingly crowded tennis calendar. We are working to develop player-friendly formulas that give the competitions the profile and stature they deserve.”