Tennis: Rafael Nadal says three-set matches not solution for Davis Cup

Spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal at the doubles finals of ATP of the Mexican Tennis Open in Acapulco, Guerrero State, Mexico, on March 4, 2017.
Spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal at the doubles finals of ATP of the Mexican Tennis Open in Acapulco, Guerrero State, Mexico, on March 4, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - The introduction of best-of-three set matches in the Davis Cup would not be enough to halt the drain of top talent from the 117-year-old world tennis tournament, Rafael Nadal said on Friday.

Nadal, who helped Spain to Davis Cup titles in 2004, 2008, 2009 and 2011, said he had long urged the International Tennis Federation (ITF) to consider sweeping reforms to the venerable event.

But plans announced this week to reduce rubbers from best-of-five to best-of-three and possibly shorten ties from three to two days do not go far enough.

"In my opinion it is not about best-of-three or best-of-five," he said. "In my opinion, it's about we cannot have a Davis Cup champion every year. That devalues the competition. If the top players are not playing very, very often, then you are making something not good."

Nadal said that the ITF has too often focused on the "small picture" and was too satisfied to have a Davis Cup final featuring a big name even if top players shied away from earlier rounds because they did not dovetail with their Tour schedules.

"Davis Cup is a beautiful competition, a very emotional competition," he said. "To maintain that level of emotion, that level of quality of tennis, you need to do the things for the best players. And the best players need to feel comfortable playing every time that Davis Cup is going."

The 14-time Major winner thinks a Davis Cup champion should be crowned every three years.

"I don't mean one year Davis Cup, one year no Davis Cup," he said. "I mean, for example, two ties per year. That will be something reasonable and players will be very motivated to play Davis Cup."