World No. 1 advocates two vital changes to Davis Cup format.
By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Wednesday, November 22, 2023
Hungry to lead Serbia to its first Davis Cup in 13 years, Novak Djokovic has drawn a conclusion about the competition.
Davis Cup must be a moveable feast in order to grow, the world No. 1 says.
Meeting the media in Malaga, Spain ahead of Serbia’s 4 p.m. quarterfinal showdown vs. Great Britain tomorrow, Djokovic said even without former world No. 1 Andy Murray and Dan Evans, doubles strength make the Brits dangerous.
“Andy Murray and Evans are not here, and obviously they have been contributing to qualifications for the Last 8 in September,” Djokovic told the media in Malaga. “But still, Great Britain is a very strong team in this format. If we split single matches, then we’re getting into the doubles where they have best players in the world, Skupski and Salisbury, and they have so many great players, it’s difficult for them to choose who to put on the court.
“We are a team that, as you can see here, we don’t have any doubles specialists, but, you know, we rely on singles, but if it comes to doubles, we are also ready to pair up in the different combinations and give it all.”
Asked to assess the future for Davis Cup, the world No. 1 advocates two changes:
1. Return early rounds to home-and-away ties to recapture the crowd passion and help national Federations grow the game.
2. If the ITF continues the current format hosting the final eight at one site, then change the host city annually as Laver Cup does to showcase Davis Cup globally.
“I actually personally feel that the best format will be somewhere in between the old one and the new one, but I don’t think that this is best for the nations participating in the World Group,” Djokovic said. “The fact that we, as a team, have not played in Serbia many years is not great, because we don’t give an opportunity to, you know, people in Serbia to watch us play, especially young people, young tennis players.
“You know, it also allows Federation to benefit in different ways from that home tie. So hopefully that can be back in some way.”
The 36-year-old Serbian superstar, who helped teamed with current captain Viktor Troicki to help lift Serbia to a 3-2 win over France in the 2010 Davis Cup Final at the Belgrade Arena, said Davis Cup should be a traveling tennis showcase for the sport.
“We will have probably difference of opinions, but I think the home-and-away ties is something the Davis Cup historically has been very famous for,” Djokovic said. “And now giving one nation to host every year the Last 8 for now three, four years in a row, actually five, Madrid, Malaga, is too much, in my opinion.
. “It has to travel. This is a competition that is played globally. I feel like the Davis Cup Finals, at least if you’re going to keep it at Final 4, Final 8, should travel every year. It shouldn’t stay in one place more than a year.”
Photo credit: Mark Peterson/Corleve