June 24, 2019 / 4:26 PM / a month ago

Halep will not play Fed Cup if format changes

EASTBOURNE, England (Reuters) - Former world number one and Romanian stalwart Simona Halep says she loves the current format of the Fed Cup and would boycott the competition if the ‘home and away’ format changes.

Tennis - WTA Premier - Eastbourne International - Devonshire Park, Eastbourne, Britain - June 22, 2019 Romania's Simona Halep during practice Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Couldridge

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) will make a “major announcement” about the women’s competition later this week with the likelihood that it could follow the revamped Davis Cup and become a multi-nation event hosted in one city.

If that happens it would rob Halep the chance of playing in front of her vociferous home support — something last year’s French Open champion rarely gets to experience.

“I love the Fed Cup and I would never change that,” Halep told reporters at the Eastbourne championships on Monday where she is preparing for Wimbledon.

“If Fed Cup changes I won’t play any more. I like the format now so if they change, it will be tough because Fed Cup means to play home and away.”

Halep, 27, has played 19 ties for Romania and took them to the semi-final this year, losing an epic tie against France. She said she has not been approached by the ITF for her view.

“If the ITF ask me, I will say my opinion,” she said.

The Davis Cup has underdone a big revamp this year with home and away ties only in the first round. Eighteen nations will then compete in the week-long finals in Madrid in November.

While it would be logical to adopt a similar format for the Fed Cup, Halep says losing the unique nature of home ties would be wrong. “To play at home it’s the best feeling,” she said.

“I’ve played many years in Fed Cup and the best feeling is to be at home with all the people that come to support and also away you have to manage the emotions and the pressure.”

Halep also received support from fellow former world number one Karolina Pliskova.

“I think they should not change, because especially for smaller countries like Czech Republic, I think this is something that they always look forward to,” the Eastbourne second seed said after her victory over Margarita Gasparyan.

“We don’t have many (home) tournaments. We have just one. For Romania, they have maybe one tournament too.

“It’s huge when Simona is playing there. So I understand that if she’s playing somewhere else, you don’t feel the same.”

Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar

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