Andy Murray says that the timing of Davis Cup ties should be changed to increase player participation.
The top-ranked men's players have only played intermittently in recent years, although with high level of success. Switzerland, the defending champion, saw both Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka skip this year's first round tie. Former members of winning teams including Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Tomas Berdych have also chosen to skip recent ties.
Some players and captains have suggested playing some or all of the competition at a single location rather than having home-and-away ties. However, Murray noted that the existing set-up creates a unique level of crowd involvement. Britain played its first three ties this year at home, against the United States, France, and Australia, and traveled to Belgium for the final.
"I think the format's good. I just think the timing sometimes is what is difficult," said Murray. "For me it isn't so much the format because if you look at the ties we played this year, I mean, the atmosphere in every one of them has been I think exceptional. If you change the format, you lose that a little bit."
The Davis Cup semifinals and relegation ties are usually played the week following the U.S. Open, and the final following the ATP World Tour Finals. The first round has sometimes been played the week following the Australian Open, and the quarterfinals sometimes following Wimbledon. The majority of top players wrote a letter to the ITF some years ago requesting that ties be played the week following Grand Slams.
Murray disagrees with that scheduling, saying, "Obviously immediately after the Slams is tough, which is after Wimbledon this year, and also after the U.S. Open. Also now you're the last ones to finish in the year."
"Most of the top players are going right through to the end of the majors. Slams are stressful, they're draining, physically and mentally. But I think that the timing is really what's the issue because the players, they put so much effort into the Grand Slams, the Davis Cup comes immediately after them, you're pretty tired at the end of the Slams."
Murray has committed to the first round of the competition next year, but has said he has yet to decide further because of next's year packed schedule that also includes the Olympic Games. He is, however, looking to use his recent Davis Cup performance as a spur at the Australian Open. The world No. 2 won both his singles matches and combined to win the doubles rubber with his brother, Jamie, in the final.
Speaking courtside after his straight-set win over David Goffin that clinch the tie, Murray suggested that his increased concentration in the team event could help him at the Australian Open.
"I need to learn a few things from actually this week," Murray said. "And how I handled everything, and my attitude towards every single point. I made it very difficult, I think, for David today, I made him work hard for every single point and I'll try to do that at the beginning of the year in Australia."