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Cincinnati | Murray’s take on Davis Cup reforms

Cincinnati | Murray’s take on Davis Cup reforms

After his loss at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, Andy Murray, who was part of the winning Great Britain team in 2015, gave his view on the proposal delegates at the ITF AGM will vote on today in Orlando.

The wide-ranging reforms on the table have created a divide within the tennis community around the world, from the players who feel their opinions are not being heard, to fans who are opposed to the notion of neutral venues and the removal of the current, traditional home or away structure that has been in place for that 118 years.

Added to the mix is the ATP’s revamped World Team Cup.

I don’t see why you can’t make a change, and if it doesn’t work and the players don’t like it and the fans don’t like it, you can always go back. It doesn’t have to be permanent. But something needed to change. I think if it was every couple years maybe would have been a good start potentially. But who knows what’s going to happen. Andy Murray

“I don’t think having, like, two team competitions six weeks apart, I don’t see that as being a positive thing,” Murray told the media earlier this week.

“But the ATP and the ITF are not working together on it, so it’s obviously most likely both are going to end up having, because if the ITF waited to take a little bit more time over things and the ATP go ahead with their event the beginning of the year in Australia and that’s a big success, then that’s very negative for the ITF.

“So one thing I think is, for sure, is that Davis Cup needed to change, because pretty much all of the players that I have spoken to love playing Davis Cup, but then lots of players don’t commit to playing it.

“So that would suggest there is something not right, whether that’s a scheduling thing, the fact it comes after slams, you know, changing surfaces, like is straight after a slam.

“And normally the Grand Slams come at the end of quite an intense stretch.

“Like here you’ve got Washington, Cincinnati, Canada, US Open, you should really be taking a break after that, but then switching surfaces potentially and playing a few best-of-five-set matches on a new surface is not really great for the body.

“I do think something needed to change, but there is obviously quite a significant change but, I have said this many times, I’m also not against it.

“I don’t see why you can’t make a change, and if it doesn’t work and the players don’t like it and the fans don’t like it, you can always go back. It doesn’t have to be permanent.

“But something needed to change. I think if it was every couple years maybe would have been a good start potentially. But who knows what’s going to happen.”

To observers it is clear that the ITF and the ATP should jointly own and reform the Davis Cup, the oldest team competition in the sport, but that is a pipe-dream since both governing bodies traditionally protect their own turf and their assets.

It all boils down to money but even that, apparently, isn’t guaranteed to the satisfaction of constituents.

With 12 votes, the LTA issued a statement on the eve of the ITF AGM of its intention to oppose the new Davis Cup proposal for wide-reaching reforms.

Summarising a lengthy statement, Scott Lloyd, CEO of the LTA said: “The competition plays a vital role in supporting the LTA’s vision to open up tennis in Britain.

“We take our responsibilities with regard to voting on the future of the competition extremely seriously and after consulting widely, regrettably, we do not feel we can support the proposals as they stand.

“The LTA remains fully supportive of the ITF and its leadership and we will work together on the future of Davis Cup regardless of the outcome of tomorrow’s vote.”

Stuart Fraser, Tennis correspondent of The Times, tweeted that in an indication of the importance of the LTA’s decision to vote against the Davis Cup reforms, the ITF have issued a statement in response, giving a mention for the All England Club’s support:

“Despite this news from the LTA, the ITF remains extremely confident that the Davis Cup reforms will be passed by the AGM.

“The majority of National Associations recognise that voting for these reforms is a vote for the future of tennis.

“As the All England Lawn Tennis Club said, it is in the best interests of tennis to ensure that the Davis Cup has a strong and successful future, which is why they, along with many nations, support the proposals.”

At this late stage, it smacks of clutching at straws, but maybe not.

That the ITF has felt it necessary to quote the AELTC is extraordinary in itself, placing a private club with no voting rights, in direct opposition to the LTA’s official line.

Wimbledon avoids confrontation at best because it runs the grass court Grand Slam Championships in collaboration with the LTA, so the powers that be at the Club must be feeling distinctly uncomfortable at being placed in the spotlight when it always makes a point of staying out of politics.

The ITF Constitution states: “There shall be only one Member per country or territory unless otherwise decided by a two-thirds majority Resolution of the Council.”

While the AELTC may well be a recognised organisation within the ITF, it does not carry a vote.

Pundits, however, have been anticipating the secret vote count at the AGM and it looks as if the two-thirds majority required to pass the Davis Cup reforms is on the cards, supported in the main by North and South American nations with Asia yet to declare in favour or not.

The Twitter-sphere is awash with pro and con tweets.

By the end of this historic day, the result will be known.

 






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