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British tennis chiefs to vote against Davis Cup reform

© AFP/File | Champions: Andy Murray holds up the Davis Cup trophy after Britain's 2015 triumph over Belgium

LONDON (AFP) - 

British tennis chiefs said Wednesday they will vote against the controversial reforms planned for the Davis Cup, claiming the radical changes could see fewer players taking part and a waning of fan interest.

The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) said that even though they remain fully supportive of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and its leadership, "regrettably, it is unable to support their proposed Davis Cup reforms at this time, and will oppose the resolution at the ITF AGM tomorrow".

Around 120 delegates at the ITF's annual meeting in Orlando will decide Thursday whether proposals by federation chief David Haggerty are to be given the go-ahead.

Haggerty's plan will see the Davis Cup's sprawling existing format, stretched across the calendar year and played in all corners of the globe, condensed into a season-ending 18-nation event played at a single, neutral venue.

The LTA says it has too many reservations to support the Davis Cup plan.

"Concerns remain that the proposed format and its impact on the tennis calendar, extending the season for players, risks player participation and therefore fan appeal," the LTA said in a statement.

"Despite some real progress in developing the format, there remain a number of outstanding queries, particularly on the clarity of how the business case will work in practice, which has led the LTA to conclude that it is too early to seek approval

"The proposal has created division amongst the member nations. The strength of the ITF in governing and developing tennis across the world will be reinforced by bringing tennis together behind a unified proposal and the LTA feels we have not yet reached that point."

Great Britain won the Davis Cup for a 10th time in 2015 when former world number one Andy Murray led them to victory over Belgium.

Australia, the 28-time champions, have also seen some of their Davis Cup winners such as Rod Laver, John Newcombe and Lleyton Hewitt condemn the proposed overhaul which would see 18 teams play in the finale, split into six groups of three teams.

Six group winners and two runners-up would then advance to knockout rounds.

Unlike current Davis Cup ties, which comprise four singles and one doubles, ties would feature only two singles and a doubles clash.

However, not all federations share the British view. Spain, who have won the Davis Cup five times, will support the reform.

"We believe, like many other federations of global weight, that the current format of this historic competition needs a change and we understand that it is the right time to carry it out," officials said recently, adding that they were keen to host the new-look finale.

© 2018 AFP