Johannesburg – A two-day format and best-of-three-set matches will be trialled in Davis Cup in 2018.
The International Tennis Federation (ITF) Board of Directors voted to introduce the trials in all Zone Group I and II ties starting with the first round ties in February.
The board was given the authority to decide on Davis Cup and Fed Cup trials in a vote by member nations at the 2017 ITF Annual General Meeting in August.
The two-day format in Zone Groups I and II will see two singles matches played on Day 1, and the doubles match followed by the two reverse singles matches on Day 2. This will ensure that all doubles matches remain live.
Zone Group I first-round ties will be played on Friday and Saturday February 2-3, with Zone Group II first-round ties played on Saturday and Sunday February 3-4.
The two-day, best-of-three-sets trial does not apply to the World Group, which will continue to play ties over three days and best-of-five sets in 2018.
The Board has 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 to give nations greater flexibility in team selection.
Dead Rubber Policy
The following changes to the dead rubber policy will also be trialled in the World Group and Zone Groups I and II in 2018:
· No fifth rubber will be played if the fourth rubber is decisive, the same as the current rule for the Davis Cup Final. (The current rule for other ties states that the fifth rubber must be played if the fourth is decisive but less than four sets.)
· If the score is 3-0, only the fourth rubber will be played, over best-of-three-sets. (The current rules states that the fourth and fifth rubbers should both be played.)
"We are as determined as ever to enhance our flagship team competitions for players, fans, host nations, broadcasters and sponsors. The nations voted to give the Board the flexibility to trial changes, and the board has acted quickly to make this happen in 2018," said ITF President David Haggerty.
"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."
The trials are in addition to a series of reforms approved in August that are aimed at improving the Davis Cup and Fed Cup experience for players, teams and host nations.
· The finalists in both Davis Cup and Fed Cup are given the choice of hosting their first-round tie in the following year.
· Match court availability and practice court requirements have been lowered to reduce hosting costs for national associations
· Davis Cup pre-tie commitments for players have been reduced.
"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," added Haggerty.
Former Davis Cup champion and current ITF Board member Mark Woodforde said: "The ITF Board recognises the importance of taking steps to enable Davis Cup to move forward while retaining its unique elements. The competition is steeped in history and we want to ensure that the next generation of players can continue to enjoy the thrill of representing their country in front of their own fans."