France and Great Britain hoping for Davis Cup changes amidst UAE rumours

During his pre-competition press conference on Wednesday, the France captain revealed he’s been in discussions with one of his rivals

Sebastien Grosjean Leon Smith

This is not the first time he has talked about it and obviously Sébastien Grosjean is also starting to get active behind the scenes. The captain of the French Davis Cup team, which will begin its 2021 campaign on Thursday (4pm) against the Czech Republic, is a staunch supporter of the competition’s old format, or at least of the particularity that was (for many) its main charm: the principle of matches played at home or away.

And the former French No 1 revealed that he had spoken at length during the Rolex Paris Masters with Leon Smith, the captain of Great Britain, in the same group (C) as France. He suggested that Smith shares his dislike of the new format in place since 2019, which brings teams together in a single time and neutral place, although it should be noted that home-and-away matches remain for the play-offs and lower divisions.

The French captain hinted that Smith had discussed it multiple times with Andy Murray, part of the victorious squad in 2015, and had suggested that he had not been impressed with some of the revamps and plans for 2022 – with the Daily Telegraph in the UK reporting that competition organisers Kosmos intend to move the competition to the United Arab Emirates.

Smith confirmed later on Wednesday that he had heard those rumours previously, saying: “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. If you talk to any of the players or the captains who’ve experienced the atmosphere, the environment is so important. Whether that’s home, whether that’s away, it’s got to be full crowds, it’s got to be what’s best for the players and the schedules.”

Grosjean, who was part of the Davis Cup-winning team in 2001, expressed his desire to bring together all the players concerned to decide on the future of the competition.

“I think it’s time to sit down with the authorities and the players to see how we can bring the Davis Cup back to the home-and-away format, to find a formula that will allow it to be integrated into the calendar and for the best players to come and play it,” he said. “I’m all for it. Now we need everyone’s will to make it happen. And, if possible, it should be done before the [2022] calendar is established.”

The former four-time Grand Slam semi-finalist’s words echo those of his player, Richard Gasquet, interviewed this Wednesday in L’Equipe. “I think it (Davis Cup) will return, in two-three years, to something more in its old spirit. I don’t see how it’s possible to keep it the way it is,” he said.

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