Andy Murray believes the new Davis Cup format, set to be introduced next season, is not the right solution for the competition and that having two competing team events from the ITF and the ATP puts the players in a tough position having to choose which one to participate in.
The Davis Cup revamp plan was voted on by ITF member nations in the annual general meeting earlier this month and 71.43 per cent of the votes cast were in favour of it.
The new format will combine the multiple ties that are scattered throughout the season to one week-long event at a neutral venue, with 12 qualification ties held in February.
“I would have abstained,” Murray told reporters at the US Open when asked how he would’ve voted if he was given the chance.
“Neither are the correct solution, I don’t think — in my opinion. From pretty much every single player that I’ve spoken to, and I’ve been in players council meetings where we’ve discussed things with the ITF and stuff, is that all players love playing Davis Cup. You can’t question that. You watch the players play, the passion and how much they get out of it.
“But obviously something wasn’t working because the top players were not playing. Whether that was because of scheduling, coming immediately after the slams, things like that. Possibly because it was every single year and it was a bit too demanding.”
There are several issues with the new Davis Cup including the fact that it will be played in November at the end of a long season, and less than two months before the ATP World Team Cup that is expected to launch in January 2020. Playing the Davis Cup finals on neutral ground has also been a major gripe for many players and fans who feel the home crowd atmosphere is one of the most special aspects of the competition.
“I think there was potentially less drastic changes that could have taken place to make it better, like even keeping potentially the same format but doing it every couple of years. I’ve heard lots of different ideas and discussions that were not quite as drastic as what’s happened,” said Murray.
“I don’t think that having a week-long team event in the middle of November, followed by a week-long team event at the beginning of January, I think that’s confusing for fans. I don’t think that it makes it easy for the players to decide, like, which one’s more important. Do you play the ITF one or the ATP one. It’s not a perfect fix.
“But you have to give the decision that’s been made, you need to give it a chance to work and see. We should try to get behind it and support it and see if it works. If it does, fantastic. But if not, I believe you can always change and go back. That’s also an option.”
The Tunisian, who turns 24 on Tuesday, took out American Kristie Ahn on Thursday 6-1, 6-2, to step closer to a third appearance in the US Open main draw. Last month, Jabeur became the first Arab woman since 2005 to win a match at Wimbledon when she took out Viktorija Golubic to reach the second round at the All England Club.
“I was playing my game, just trying to maintain. I had the image of playing in Wimbledon so it kind of helped me to make sure I was ready on my legs and I was here,” Jabeur told Sport360 of her qualifying second round at the US Open on Thursday.
“Today was a pretty good match, I was expecting a more difficult one. But since I was ready, I didn’t give her the chance to come back or to play her game. I’m very happy but I still have to be focused for tomorrow. It’s going to be a tricky match I’m sure but I’m going to give it my all and try to play like today and hopefully it’ll go well.”
Jabeur defeated Dulgheru easily in a $100k clay tournament in the south of France earlier this year but insists Friday will be a different story.
“I played her lately in Cagnes-Sur-Mer but it was clay, so it’s going to be a totally different match, especially that it’s on hard courts and she’s playing well lately. It’s qualifying for the main draw, so a lot of stress for both of us. But I’m going to try to do well and hopefully be ready for tomorrow,” Jabeur added.
With her eyes set firmly on a main draw berth, Jabeur couldn’t help but take a peek at the qualifying spots in the women’s draw, which was unveiled on Thursday afternoon, and admits a possible US Open first-round showdown with Maria Sharapova — who is drawn to face a qualifier in her opener — would be a real treat.
“It’s pretty interesting for me. It gives more motivation of course. I like the spots, there’s a pretty good chance and also exciting chances like the Sharapova one, it’s nice to have this draw. But for me I don’t want to skip the step for tomorrow and hopefully I’ll be thinking about this tomorrow afternoon,” said Jabeur.
Ons Jabeur plays Alexandra Dulgheru in final round of #usopen qualifying.
These are qualifiers’ spots in the draw:
Carla Suarez Navarro
Qualifier v qualifier
— Reem Abulleil (@ReemAbulleil) August 23, 2018
The fourth and final Grand Slam of the season is upon us and with the first three won by three different players (Caroline Wozniacki – Australian Open, Simona Halep – French Open, Angelique Kerber – Wimbledon) many are wondering if the trend will continue and we get a fourth woman triumphing in New York.
The US Open women’s draw was unveiled on Thursday with Halep headlining the field as the world No. 1.
Serena Williams had her seeding bumped from 26 to 17, while former champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, and two-time runner-up Victoria Azarenka were given wildcards into the main draw.
Here are the main takeaways from Thursday’s ceremony.
SISTERS ON COLLISION COURSE
Serena seeded No. 17 means she could face a 9-16 seed in the third round. Thursday’s draw placed 16th-seeded Venus Williams as Serena’s possible round three opponent but before the older Williams sister can think about that potential match-cup, she will have to get past Kuznetsova, in a battle of former US Open champions.
Kuznetsova, who had wrist surgery end of last year, missed the first two months of 2018 and has finally started to find her form a few weeks ago as she stormed to take the title in Washington DC.
THE LOADED QUARTER
Besides the fact that Serena, Venus and Kuznetsova are all sharing the same section, they’ve landed in a quarter of the draw that includes top-seeded Halep, two-time Grand Slam winner Garbine Muguruza, 2016 US Open runner-up Karolina Pliskova and dangerous floaters Ashleigh Barty and Maria Sakkari. It feels impossible to predict who will make it out of that quarter alive.
NO LUCK FOR VIKA
Azarenka is no stranger to getting unlucky draws and since she’s unseeded and is still ranked a lowly 80, she’ll have to navigate some tricky paths if she wants to make it far at tournaments. She managed to do that successfully in Miami earlier this year, making the semis by taking out the likes of Agnieszka Radwanska, Karolina Pliskova and Madison Keys but hasn’t been able to do that consistently ever since.
Azarenka could take on 25th-seeded Daria Gavrilova in the second round before a possible last-32 showdown with familiar foe, defending champion Sloane Stephens, who beat the Belarusian in both Miami and Indian Wells earlier this year.
This will be Azarenka’s first US Open since 2015. She missed the 2016 edition due to pregnancy and was unable to play last year due to a custody issue with the father of her child. The ex- world No. 1 is still going through personal issues and admitted in Cincinnati last week that things continue to be difficult for her.
“I think I’m struggling a little bit with finding the joy on the court because it’s been such a tough time and it’s still a tough time for me,” said Azarenka.
PRESSURE ON SHARAPOVA
Maria Sharapova has played just three matches since her Wimbledon first-round exit, and pulled out of San Jose and Cincinnati with right shoulder problems. She has 240 points to defend, from her fourth round appearance in New York last year and has landed in another stacked quarter of the draw.
The Russian could face Jelena Ostapenko in the third round, Garcia in the fourth, and Kerber or Keys in the quarters.
THE YOUTH SECTION
Indian Wells finalists, the 20-year-old Naomi Osaka and 21-year-old Daria Kasatkina could face in the third round but the latter might first have to take on Belinda Bencic (also 21) in round two. Bencic recently hired Vladimir Platenik, Kasatkina’s ex-coach, which would only add spice to an already intriguing match-up.
After losing to Kiki Bertens in both Montreal and Cincinnati already this month, Petra Kvitova could face the Dutchwoman for a third time this hard-court season if they both reach the quarter-finals. Bertens’ path is a bit clearer than Kvitova’s though with the Czech possibly facing Cincinnati semi-finalist Aryna Sabalenka in the third round.
FIRST ROUNDS TO WATCH
Garbine Muguruza v Zhang Shuai
Elina Svitolina v Saschia Vickery
Anastasija Sevastova v Donna Vekic
Venus Williams v Svetlana Kuznetsova
Caroline Garcia v Johanna Konta
Aryna Sabalenka v Danielle Collins
Caroline Wozniacki v Sam Stosur
Daria Kasatkina v Timea Babos
Jelena Ostapenko v Andrea Petkovic