Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Davis Cup Must Copy Football to Survive, Says Lloyd; A World Cup Format Could Inject New Life into a Struggling Competition, Says the Former British No1

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Davis Cup Must Copy Football to Survive, Says Lloyd; A World Cup Format Could Inject New Life into a Struggling Competition, Says the Former British No1

Article excerpt

Byline: CHRIS JONES

THE Davis Cup is facing the biggest crisis in its 107-year history, warns John Lloyd. But the former British No1 believes the future of the competition can be secured if tennis chiefs adopt a radical overhaul and stage it every four years like football's World Cup.

Lloyd was part of the last British team to reach the final of the tournament, losing 4-1 to America in 1978.

Now, however, Britain are down among the also-rans of world tennis as they prepare for tomorrow's Euro/Africa Group One relegation battle against Israel at Eastbourne.

However, while Britain are struggling to make an impact, it is the future of the competition as a whole that is worrying Lloyd. With so many events being squeezed into the calender the top players are now, either through injury or the need to rest, deciding to dodge the Davis Cup.

Roger Federer, Lleyton Hewitt and Rafael Nadal have, for various reasons, missed ties this year, joining a list of " no shows" that has previously included Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi. Tim Henman, who led Britain's Davis Cup challenge for 10 years, has now retired fromthe competition so he can protect his troublesome back.

The Davis Cup - and the 10 major sponsors - cannot allow the biggest names in the sport to walk away from a competition that used to be second in importance to the four Grand Slams. It is a debate that is putting real pressure on the International Tennis Federation to find a solution.

Lloyd, who will be commentating on the Eastbourne tie for the BBC, said: "The Davis Cup format doesn't fit properly into the tennis year and it's becoming an after thought.

"That's a terrible situation and unless the ITF chiefs get their heads out of the sand then things will only get worse. I understand where the top players are coming from because tennis is now a lucrative business.

"It's not just a three-week commitment to play in the Cup each year. It's really around eight weeks which does impact on individual schedules.

"We have witnessed the down grading of men's doubles at Grand Slams where very few of the top 20 singles players take part and the Davis Cup could suffer a similar fate. …

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