Lucas Pouille says ITF's proposed changes are 'death sentence' to Davis Cup

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Lucas Pouille has described the proposed changes announced by the ITF as a “death sentence” to the Davis Cup, the Frenchman told reporters in Dubai on Tuesday following his opening round win over Ernests Gulbis.

Pouille, who clinched the decisive rubber for France in the Davis Cup final against Belgium at Villeneuve-d’Ascq last November, says the elimination of the home-and-away ties will completely transform the competition into a different concept and that it shouldn’t be considered the same event anymore.

“I think it’s a death sentence of the Davis Cup. They just picked the idea of the ATP of making the World Team Cup again, because it’s exactly the same. It’s during one week, a lot of teams, some money. That’s why they want to do it,” said Pouille.

“But obviously they cannot call it a Davis Cup any more. When you’re not playing at home, or in the country against who you’re playing, then it’s not a Davis Cup. I mean, everybody who lived already a Davis Cup tie know that it’s going to be different, it’s not going to be the same atmosphere any more.

“I think it’s a very bad idea for the Davis Cup.”

A statement on the Davis Cup website was released on Monday announcing “a 25-year, $3 billion partnership with investment group Kosmos that will transform Davis Cup by BNP Paribas and generate substantial revenues for global tennis development”.

The plan to overhaul the Davis Cup will see the home-and-away ties taking place throughout the year disappear and instead, a one-week competition at the end of November will take place in one location featuring 18 nations. The proposal will be voted on in this August’s ITF Annual General Meeting in Orlando, Florida.

Davis Cup has suffered in recent years due to the absence of star players, who have been complaining about its structure.

Pouille, ranked 15 in the world, says the top players are not skipping Davis Cup simply because of its scheduling issues and its format, but because they have their own reasons.

“I’m not sure it’s only about the Davis Cup format, you know. I mean, Roger is playing 13 or 14 tournaments a year. It’s not because of this that he’s not coming to Davis Cup,” said Pouille.

“He won it already. It’s okay. Everybody who won it already, they don’t play any more. Maybe if it was every two or three years, then it will be different.

“But, of course, I mean, we won the Davis Cup end of November. First round we play the beginning of February. I mean, it’s a bit ridiculous. There is no point of playing the first round two months after the final. Maybe there is a point or finding some way to change it. I’m not sure this is the right way.”

Pouille also thinks the timing of this new proposed one-week competition is not a good idea.

“The thing is, then don’t call it the Davis Cup. Apparently it’s going to be the last week of November or something. When do we stop then? We never stop. We never take holidays,” explained the 24-year-old.

“Everybody say the tour is too complicated, that we are very tired at the end of the year because we’re playing too much. Then they put something more at the end of the year. There is no point to do it.

“Maybe do it every two years, every three years, I don’t know. I’m not sure it’s the good idea for the Davis Cup. I mean, it’s not the Davis Cup, it’s the World Team Cup coming back. It’s not the Davis Cup now.”

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