Pouille calls revamp death sentence of the Davis Cup

France’s Lucas Pouille returns the ball to Ernests Gulbis of Latvia (unseen) during their Dubai Duty Free Tennis singles match on February 27, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / KARIM SAHIB /

Frenchman Lucas Pouille came out strongly against a proposed Davis Cup shakeup, calling the newly announced 2019 scheduling concept a “death sentence” for the competition.

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) announced on Monday that it planned a dramatic transformation that would see a new season-ending World Cup of Tennis Finals featuring 18 nations.

The ITF unveiled plans for a 25-year, $3 billion (2.4 billion euros) partnership with investment group Kosmos, founded by Barcelona football star Gerard Pique, to shake up the current format.

“I think it’s a death sentence of the Davis Cup,” second seed Pouille said at the Dubai Championships on Tuesday after beating Ernests Gulbis in the first round.

“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.

“It’s not the Davis Cup, it’s the World Team Cup coming back.”

The new format would scrap the century-plus old Davis Cup schedule of ties played four times per year, which sit uneasily in the packed calendar.

Pouille won the decisive fifth rubber as France beat Belgium to win the Cup in November. On Tuesday, he joined other French tennis personalities including Amelie Mauresmo and Yannick Noah who have already expressed their disappointment.

“Obviously they cannot call it a Davis Cup any more,” he said. “When you’re not playing at home, or in the country against who you’re playing, then it’s not a Davis Cup.

“Everybody who lived already a Davis Cup tie knows 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.”

Pouille said that he thought it was even less likely that major names like Roger Federer, at age 36, and Rafael Nadal would once again play the event if it was scheduled at the end of a long ATP season.

“Roger is playing 13 or 14 tournaments a year. 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,” Pouille said.

“Apparently it’s going to be the last week of November, when do we stop then? We never stop. We never take holidays.

“Everybody says 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.”

He added: “Maybe do it every two years, every three years. But not sure it’s the good idea for the Davis Cup.”

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