Andy Murray says that the only way to get top players to commit to Davis Cup is if the competition is made mandatory. The ITF runs the Davis Cup, while the ATP runs the rest of the men’s calendar aside from the Grand Slams—which are the only non-ATP sanctioned events which are made mandatory.
Murray has played Davis Cup sporadically since 2008, but is playing Britain’s World Group Playoff tie against Croatia this weekend. Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are also representing their counties this weekend, but Roger Federer, who has rarely played Davis Cup over the past eight years, is not playing for Switzerland against Ecuador.
“We’re told which events to play throughout the whole year. They should make Davis Cup a mandatory event so it isn’t up for discussion,” Murray told the BBC. “It isn't about prioritizing Davis Cup. We, as tennis players, are told which tournaments to play. We don’t have much flexibility in our schedule at all, and that’s why I don’t understand why they don't make Davis Cup a mandatory event. We are meant to play 18 mandatory events during the year, which is about 27, 28 weeks’ worth of tournaments, and we don’t get to decide which ones we do and don’t play.”
While top players are obligated to play the Grand Slams, Masters tournaments, and the ATP World Tour Finals if they qualify, they can pick and choose which ATP 500- and ATP 250-level tournaments that they play, as opposed to Murray’s remarks.
Murray added that Davis Cup ties can be tough on the body.
"The hard part about it is the surface changes," he said. “Davis Cup finishes on a Sunday and there are tournaments that start on the ATP tour on Tuesday. That's unhealthy—it's not good for the body to travel from Croatia on a Sunday night, hit once on a hard court, and then play a match on it going flat out."
However, Murray does see the positives in the competition.
"[The International Tennis Federation] got a good turn out this week. Rafa's playing, Novak's playing, so the competition still does very well. They draw big crowds—there just needs to be a few tweaks.