Davis Cup

French tennis team lash out at new Davis Cup format after losing final to Croatia

Davis Cup

Davis Cup

French players don’t like the new Davis Cup format and they’re saying it loud and clear.

After failing to defend their title this weekend in Lille, France in a 3-1 loss to Croatia, the French

lashed out at future plans adopted earlier this year and Lucas Pouille said he would boycott the competition from now on.

This weekend marked the last time in the 118-year-old competition that the final was played in a

best-of-five match format and over a three-day weekend.

Starting next year, the top team event in men’s tennis will be decided with a season-ending, 18-team tournament at a neutral site.

ITF’s New Format

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) believes this format, with matches played in best-of-three

sets, will be more attractive to elite players who often pass on competing for their countries because of a crowded schedule.

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) believes this format, with matches played in best-of-three

sets, will be more attractive to elite players who often pass on competing for their countries because of a crowded schedule.

The French tennis federation supported the reform, but theirs does not appear to be the view of the French players.

“I’m extremely sorry because of the ITF decision,” doubles specialist Pierre-Hugues Herbert said.

Herbert’s partner, Nicolas Mahut, said he spoke with ITF president David Haggerty immediately after the final to express his discontent.

“I believe he understood very well what I wanted to say,” Mahut said, without giving details.

Lucas Pouille, who was thrashed in straight sets by Marin Cilic on Sunday a year after he wrapped

up France’s 10th title, said he would not play in the Davis Cup anymore.

“I’m not going to change my mind about the new format. As far as I’m concerned, I’m not going to play in the Davis Cup anymore. That was the last time.”

Legends rail against changes

Davis Cup

The ITF agreed to a $US3 billion ($4.15 billion), 25-year deal with Kosmos, and an investment

group founded by footballer Gerard Pique to change the format of the competition.

Pique said the new World Cup-style format would help give the competition a significant boost.

“This is the beginning of a new stage that guarantees the pre-eminent and legitimate place the

Davis Cup should have as a competition for national teams, while adapting to the demands of this

professional sport at the highest level,” the Barcelona defender said in a statement in August.

Opposed Views

That view was opposed by both Tennis Australia and the British Lawn Tennis Association at the ITF

AGM in August, although the US Tennis Association did back the changes to, “project [the] Davis Cup into the 21st century.”

Former players and commentators however, railed against the changes and have expressed their sadness at what they see as the demise of the competition.

The ITF said it expected the new format would help generate more money for tennis development

around the world, but Mahut claimed tennis stakeholders should have come up with better solutions.

“There are other means to find money. The Grand Slam tournaments could have given some of

their revenues and the Davis Cup would have been saved,” Mahut said.

“We needed to find ways to lighten the schedule; we had so many good ideas to save that competition. There were other solutions.”

France’s Davis Cup captain Yannick Noah, who oversaw his last Davis Cup match this weekend

and will be replaced by Amelie Mauresmo, is also a fervent opponent of the overhaul.

“It will never be the same, it’s going to be something else,” said Noah, who guided France to three Davis Cup titles.

“I really hope this is not going to be called the Davis Cup. Playing two sets is not the Davis Cup. They are lying.

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