Misc Tennis

Davis Cup: Could tournament return to home and away ties in the future?

Canada celebrate winning the 2022 Davis Cup

Canada are defending their Davis Cup title in Malaga, Spain this week

Staging Davis Cup ties in neutral venues is like an eighth deadly sin to some – but a return to traditional home and away ties would “not work”, according to the man in charge.

The route to November’s Finals begins with a qualifying round in February, which is played on the home and away basis that sustained the competition until 2018.

But the last 16 is now staged in just four cities in September and the final eight are disputing the trophy in Malaga this week – and hosts Spain have not qualified.

“The home and away format is not going to work and the players told us that in the past,” International Tennis Federation (ITF) president David Haggerty said in an interview with BBC Sport.

“It would not be a good competition if we went back to only home and away. Sometimes the loudest voices aren’t always the majority.”

Fears of a repeat of the sparse crowds seen at some of the group ties in September – most notably Switzerland against France on the opening day in Manchester – did not materialise for Finland’s quarter-final against champions Canada on Tuesday.

About three quarters of the 9,207 seats were taken, mostly thanks to a spectacular effort from Finnish fans excited about watching their country’s first ever quarter-final.

At least 1,000 fans flew in from home and that number was perhaps more than doubled by the numerous buses laid on by expat fan clubs across southern Spain.

The LTA says Great Britain’s quarter-final against Serbia on Thursday is sold out and it knows of at least 2,500 travelling fans. The Czech Republic are also expected to bring a vocal contingent.

But for many, it will never be quite the same. World number 12 Alex de Minaur made his debut for Australia in a five-set thriller against Germany’s Alexander Zverev at the Pat Rafter Arena in Brisbane in February 2018.

“In a heartbeat I would want the competition to go back to what it used to be,” he said.

“I was lucky enough to get a taste of what home and away ties meant. I was able to make my debut at home in front of a packed Brisbane crowd – to this day it still gives me goosebumps.

“And then I was able to play in Austria [against 2020 US Open champion Dominic Thiem]. Everyone was against me but that was some of the coolest experiences and what made this competition so special.”

Stan Wawrinka posted a video of a virtually empty stadium just before Switzerland’s tie with France in Manchester in September. He also posed a…

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