Novak Djokovic has added his voice to those calling for a reform of the Davis Cup format, with the world number one favouring a more concentrated competition for the worldwide team event.
In addition, the men’s top seed at the ATP and WTA Miami Masters would also like to see the Australian Open played a bit later in the season but is fully on board with the addition of an extra week of grass preparation between the end of Roland Garros and the beginning of Wimbledon.
For starters, the eight-time grand Slam winner said that he supports a pending proposal to add a tiebreaker to the fifth set of any Davis Cup rubber, which would end marathons such as the nearly seven-hour struggle at a March first-round tie in Argentina.
“I’m more in support of a tiebreak in the fifth set in any competition than for no tiebreak. That would be my answer on that,” said the 27-year-old Serbian.
“I support the fact to have a certain change in the sport, I think it’s the right time. As we evolve as a global sport, I think we should all strongly consider applying certain changes.
“Of course, you don’t want to change completely the game. There is a long tradition in integrity of the sport that is very recognised around the world because of that – but I believe there is some room for improvements.” added the eight-time Grand Slam winner.
International Tennis Federation president Francesco Ricci Bitti told Argentina’s La Nacion newspaper last week that the idea was on the table for an autumn ITF congress and that it had his support.
Djokovic is adamant that the century-old Davis format, which is spaced out inconveniently over four weekend dates throughout the season,needs a shake-up.
“The schedule is, especially for top players, very, very bad,” he said.
“Maybe (make it) a two-week event every year, every two years, where you would have the top 16 teams playing in four groups of four in different locations, and then coming in the final four. That’s one of the examples.
“The important thing is to attract the top players to be there. We all love representing our countries in Olympic Games and Davis Cup, but you can’t be frequent. I speak from my personal experience.
“You have the Davis Cup schedule that is right after Wimbledon or right after the Australian Open or right after the US Open.
“If you’re playing finals of these events, to change the time zone and arrive from US Open to Europe in matter of two, three days and adjust from hard court outdoors to indoor clay, it’s a huge risk for injuries and so forth.
“I would like to play it more, but sometimes I have to make choices. That’s why I would strongly support to change the format as soon as possible.”
Djokovic also laid into the ATP, voicing some fresh ideas for that tournament calendar.
“I still believe that Australian Open should be couple of weeks later, at least,” he said of the mid-January major which he won for a fifth time two months ago.
“To start off with a Grand Slam right away and the season hasn’t even started, and then to have a very long gap between Australian Open and Roland Garros (starting in late May) and then a very short one, it proportionately doesn’t make sense.
“But that’s the way the schedule has been officially present in our sport and we kind of play with it, but I’m always in support for new discussions and progress and change that can kind of revolutionise the sport.”
Djokovic does fully approve of the concept of extra Wimbledon prep time on grass which comes into effect this season.
“It gives you a little bit more time to prepare between the slowest surface (clay) in sport and the fastest surface in sport.”