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Sport Djokovic backs multi-city staging of Davis Cup; Smith wants dialogue

12:42  25 november  2021
12:42  25 november  2021 Source:   skysports.com

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World No 1 Novak Djokovic says he supports the multi-city staging of the Davis Cup Finals, but Britain's captain Leon Smith has called for more open dialogue on the format going forward.

After a two-year hiatus caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the Davis Cup returns to prominence this week with group stages taking place in Madrid, Turin and Innsbruck.

Novak Djokovic supports the multi-city staging of the Davis Cup Finals © Associated Press Novak Djokovic supports the multi-city staging of the Davis Cup Finals

Following a lucrative but hugely controversial takeover of the historic competition by Gerard Pique's Kosmos group in 2018, the Davis Cup switched from home and away ties to a World Cup-style finals event.

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The inaugural tournament in Madrid in 2019 saw low crowds, a packed schedule, and late-night finishes which needed a rethink.

That has resulted this time in the group stages being played across three cities over a longer timeframe before the climax of the event in Madrid next weekend.

"The Davis Cup should be experienced by more people. So I'm in favour of this year's format and that there are more countries that can host group ties," said Djokovic, who is determined to use the bitter memory of defeat in the 2019 Finals as motivation to lift the trophy for a second time this year.

"I didn't think the format worked very well two years ago."

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Britain's captain Leon Smith, whose side will play their Group C ties in Innsbruck, said he wanted more open dialogue with the ITF (International Tennis Federation) and partners Kosmos Tennis, about the format going forward.

"I understand that things had to change, and between the ITF and Kosmos they're still trying to find what's going to work best, but I think there's got to be an open dialogue about what happens next in this and still trying to find a solution to make sure this remains one of the most important things in the calendar," he said.

"For someone like myself, I'm hearing that some things might be happening next year, but I'm only hearing it second hand. If it's true what potentially might be happening, I think it would be good to be able to talk about it before any decisions are made.

"There's so many good people working for ITF, Kosmos, everyone wants it to be great, I would just like us to speak a bit more before any final decisions happen."

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Smith and his team, which is led by British No 1 Cameron Norrie, arrived in Innsbruck last weekend ahead of matches against France on Saturday and the Czech Republic on Sunday.

Playing in front of an empty stadium could have a real impact in a competition that is based on partisan support, and Smith added: "Our players are still extremely proud to represent their country and you just have to pull on that as much as possible. We've got support team people that get on well, it's like a big family unit that get behind each other, and we'll have to create some noise as best we can."

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Cameron Norrie will lead Team GB in Innsbruck © Associated Press Cameron Norrie will lead Team GB in Innsbruck Team Spain won the inaugural tournament in Madrid in 2019 © Getty Team Spain won the inaugural tournament in Madrid in 2019

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