Davis Cup is not fan friendly says GB captain Leon Smith
Great Britain’s Davis Cup captain Leon Smith says the competition’s format is not “fan or player friendly”.
Reforms were endorsed in March to reduce the current five-set format to three sets played over two days.
GB’s Dan Evans and Kyle Edmund both played best-of-three sets in their singles rubbers against France as the hosts secured a 4-1 victory on Sunday.
“It’s a tough ask for children to come in and watch two five-setters in one sitting,” Smith told BBC’s Sportsweek.
“It’s simply too long. It’s not fan friendly and it’s not player friendly.”
Smith – who admitted on Saturday that GB’s squad “lacked depth” – said the existing format could stop the world’s top players from competing.
Serbia’s Novak Djokovic was the only player ranked in the top 10 to appear for any of the nations in the quarter-finals.
“If you’re playing a hectic schedule, you know you have to come in and play a five-set match on the Friday, potentially the doubles then another best of five, that is too much,” Smith added.
“That already puts the decision into a player’s head that that is too much and they can’t play.
“You change that to three and for fans, they sit through two best-of-three matches; that’s much more realistic in the time frame.”
France took an unassailable 3-0 lead over GB after victory in Saturday’s doubles, but Evans and Edmund played Julien Benneteau and Jeremy Chardy respectively on Sunday.
Evans beat Benneteau 6-1 6-2 in just 43 minutes before Edmund lost 6-4 6-4 to world number 68 Chardy.
Evans entertains in dead rubber
Evans and Benneateu approached their singles rubber as though it was an exhibition match, with both players playing up to the Rouen crowd.
The Brit took his aggressive hard court game onto the clay, winning 30 points as he wrapped up the first set in 21 minutes.
Benneateu was then joined on court by his doubles partner Nicolas Mahut, and briefly by France captain Yannick Noah, as Evans played the three players at once, much to the crowd’s amusement.
However Evans – who, prior to this weekend, had not played a match on clay in two years – won the match in 43 minutes.
“Our fans come and watch us everywhere. They pay their hard-earned money, and it’s not cheap, so we wanted to put a show on for them,” Evans told BBC Sport after the match.
Edmund, 22, continued his impressive showing on clay as he pushed Chardy’s backhand, but the Frenchman’s ease on clay ensured he registered victory in just over an hour.