Djokovic says restructuring Davis Cup is 'no brainer'
By Martyn Herman
LONDON (Reuters) - Novak Djokovic says changing the format of the Davis Cup is a "no brainer" and has repeated his plea to the International Tennis Federation to make structural changes to the team event.
"This format is not working for the top players... because it's just completely at the wrong time in the schedule," world number two Djokovic told reporters at the ATP World Tour Finals on Thursday.
"If you go back ... five, six years, you see the amount of the top players that played at the later stages of the Davis Cup (has gone down), you see that it lost value."
Currently the Davis Cup is run throughout the year with the World Group first round immediately after the Australian Open, the quarter-finals on the back of Wimbledon and the semi-finals hot on the heels of the U.S. Open.
Even the final is the week after the Tour Finals, posing a dilemma for a player involved in both.
Djokovic led Serbia to the title in 2010 but has played two ties in the last two years, the same as Spain's Rafael Nadal.
Roger Federer, nursing a back injury, pulled out of playing in the title match of the 2014 Tour Finals just a week before helping Switzerland to win the team competition in 2014. However, his Davis Cup participation before and after 2014 has been sporadic.
Britain's Andy Murray is the exception amongst the big guns, shouldering an enormous burden for his country in recent years, including winning the trophy almost single handedly last year in Belgium.
Djokovic said the format should be streamlined.
"Of course, they have to change," he said.
"The only way to work, is once a year, (dedicate) one or two weeks, have a round-robin format, four, five, six groups, have teams play in different locations, then come together in one location and play a knockout stage, quarter-finals, semi-finals, final four, whatever. It's a no-brainer.
"I think they should cut it down to two days, best-of-three. Have two singles and one doubles, those kind of things."
ITF president David Haggerty has voiced his support for a change to the organisation's blue riband team event, pitching the idea of a "final-four" showdown at a neutral venue.
At present the final takes place in one of the nations taking part. Croatia host Argentina in next week's final.
While calling for change, Djokovic said he was not necessarily a fan of a neutral venue.
"ITF hasn't been really very helpful with the players' demands," he said.
"The only thing they wanted to change is the neutral final. Most of the players around the tour don't agree 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."
Recommended changes, including a bidding process for neutral host cities of the finals and scheduling, will be discussed at the ITF's AGM next August.
(Editing by Pritha Sarkar)