March 9, 2018 / 1:23 PM / 15 days ago

Cilic says 99.9 percent of players will back new Davis Cup plan

LONDON (Reuters) - The proposed radical revamp of the Davis Cup format to create an end-of-season tennis World Cup would be welcomed by the players, according to Croatia’s former U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic.

Tennis - ATP 500 - Rio Open - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - February 22, 2018 Gael Monfils of France celebrates after winning his match against Marin Cilic of Croatia. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes

The International Tennis Federation (ITF), in partnership with Barcelona soccer player Gerard Pique’s Kosmos investment company, plan a single city, 18-nation event to be held over seven days, starting in November 2019.

It would replace the current 16-team World Group format in which ties are played on a “home or away” basis over three weekends after the Australian Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open with the final in November.

Cilic says the Davis Cup has become too much of a strain on players’ schedules, with many top players skipping it, and that the new plan is “incredibly good for tennis.”

“Players have been trying to talk to the ITF, and there have been so many conversations for the last 10 years to change Davis Cup because it’s just too difficult for players to play four weeks of the year, and every single year,” the world number three told the Tennis Podcast.

“There have been many conversations about how to change things — maybe the scoring system, or to have it every two years. This news that we can have it all in a one week tournament is incredibly good and valuable.

“I think it will bring more attention to Davis Cup, everyone will be much more involved rather than just two teams and it will create a nice vibe.”

Some federations, including last year’s runners-up Belgium, have voiced their concern, saying the loss of the home and away environment will rob the Davis Cup of its unique atmosphere.

But Cilic says the plan for a one-week event in a venue announced 12 months in advance will help players make the team event an important part of their schedule.

“It will still be known a year in advance where the Davis Cup finals will be played so I think people will be able to make their plans and support their teams and they will have all the teams in once place,” he said.

“People say it will make the season longer by having it in November, but actually by doing it this way you are giving players three weeks off in a year.

“It will reduce the requirements from four weeks to one. I think 99.9 percent of players will want this new system.”

The ITF’s board will vote on the new proposal in August.

Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar

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