Davis Cup: Novak Djokovic wants finals to move around the world

Novak Djokovic hits a return
Novak Djokovic and Serbia have not played a Davis Cup tie on home soil since 2018

Novak Djokovic says the Davis Cup knockout phase “has to travel” around the world as he prepares for Serbia’s quarter-final against Britain in Spain.

Since a revamp of the men’s team event in 2019, the final stages of the tournament have always been played in Spanish cities.

On Thursday Serbia play Britain in Malaga, where the semi-finals and final will be held at the weekend.

“This is a competition that is played globally,” Djokovic said.

“It shouldn’t stay in one place more than a year.”

Eight nations have been competing in the week-long event, but Spain failed to qualify.

The Davis Cup, which started in 1900, used to be played in a home-and-away format, often creating a partisan atmosphere but regularly missing top players.

It led to a controversial revamp the tournament and the final stages were turned into a season-ending event, as part of a 25-year £2.15bn plan funded by the Kosmos investment group fronted by former Spain footballer Gerard Pique.

Billed as the World Cup of Tennis, the inaugural event featuring 18 teams was held in Madrid in 2019 and the final stages of the 2020-21 event were also held in the Spanish capital.

The ‘Final Eight’ of the past two editions have been played at the Palacio de Deportes Martin Carpena in Malaga.

In January this year the International Tennis Federation (ITF) ended the deal with Kosmos after less than five years.

World number one Djokovic, who has won a record 24 Grand Slam men’s singles titles, urged more communication between the ITF and the top players about the Davis Cup.

“Everyone should have their say because so far no-one has been really communicating with us from the ITF,” said Djokovic, whose nation have not played a Davis Cup tie on home soil since 2018.

“I don’t think we all agree. We will have probably difference of opinions, but the home-and-away ties is something the Davis Cup historically has been very famous for.

“Giving one nation to host the [Final] Eight for four years is too much. It has to travel.”

Australian world number 12 Alex de Minaur said he would go back to the home and away format in a “heartbeat”.

There will be no changes until at least 2025 with the current format set in place for next year.

The group stage of this year’s tournament, taking place in the week after the US Open, was played across venues in Manchester, Bologna, Split and Valencia.

Feliciano Lopez, who is the tournament director in Malaga, told BBC Radio 5 Live he had a “productive” conversation about the issue with Djokovic when Serbia played in Valencia.

Australian doubles legend Mark Woodforde, who is an athlete representative on the ITF board, says a “period of stabilisation” has been needed following Kosmos’ ill-fated intervention and disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The ITF does not feel there needs to be change because it is suffering, our feedback is it is not in any trouble, but we are always reviewing it,” Woodforde told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“We’re the World Cup of Tennis – it is not a European-based competition. We would love to see the tournament flourish, potentially played in North America, South America and Oceania regions.”

Source: BBC News

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