Davis Cup: Andy Murray urges players and fans to give new format a chance

Great Britain's Davis Cup team pose for a selfie
Great Britain's Davis Cup team are in Madrid preparing for next week's tournament

Andy Murray has urged players and fans to give the new Davis Cup format a chance, with next week's tournament hit by some high-profile absences.

The week-long event, starting in Madrid on Monday, has 18 nations competing in six groups - replacing the old system of home and away ties through the year.

Among the top-10 players missing it are Alexander Zverev and Daniil Medvedev.

"Tennis is not always the easiest to make changes in and this is a big change," Britain's Murray said.

"I think there's some people that seem to be hoping it doesn't go well but I hope it goes really well and that it's a big success.

"The players and all of the fans need to try to give it a chance to see how it goes and I think we'll have a better idea after the tournament's finished."

The former world number one has been in the Spanish capital this week with his Great Britain team-mates to prepare for their group matches against the Netherlands on Wednesday and Kazakhstan on Thursday.

German world number seven Zverev has opted not to play, saying the new format of the prestigious men's team tennis competition is "not Davis Cup".

Meanwhile, Russian world number four Medvedev withdrew this week to recover after a long season, while Roger Federer's Switzerland and Dominic Thiem's Austria did not qualify.

However, there are still plenty of big names who will be there, with Rafael Nadal leading home hopes for Spain and Novak Djokovic playing for Serbia.

The 25-year, £2.15bn revamp of the Davis Cup is funded by an investment group led by Barcelona footballer Gerard Pique's Kosmos company.

Under the new system, group winners - as well as the two second-placed teams with the best records - progress to the quarter-finals, with the semi-finals and final taking place on 23 and 24 November.

Matches will consist of two singles and one doubles rubber, all played over three sets on a hard court at the Caja Magica.

Critics of the new format have pointed to the loss of the partisan Davis Cup atmospheres of old, such as the Glasgow crowd that roared the British team into the 2015 final, which they won against Belgium in Ghent.

"I'm going to miss that but I love being around the team and I'm excited to see what the new format looks like and I hope the atmosphere is brilliant," Murray said. "That's my one concern."

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