By Matt Smith
DUBAI (Reuters) - Double Davis Cup winner Tomas Berdych has called for the annual competition to be played every two years, warning the current format was destroying tennis's top team prize.
Berdych and compatriot Radek Stepanek led the Czech Republic to successive Davis Cup titles, beating Serbia in the 2013 final and Spain a year earlier, in what the 2010 Wimbledon finalist described as the greatest achievements of his career.
But those triumphs have come at considerable cost, the world number six told reporters on Sunday before this week's Dubai Championships.
"In my last two years I missed eight weeks for Davis Cup - four to play the matches and then a week after - you are dead to play a tournament or even prepare yourself," said Berdych, who helped the Czech Republic beat the Netherlands 3-2 in their first-round match earlier this month.
He criticized the Cup's schedule, with the quarter-finals in April, the semi-finals in September and then a two-month break before the final in late November.
"It ends up so late and makes a difficult season even more difficult. I think it would make sense and the players would really like to play if the Davis Cup was every two years," said the 28-year-old.
"We finished the semi-final in September. I came home and after a few days I received calls: 'what do I think of the opponents in (2013's) first round?'
"I think: 'we're going to play the final let's be ready for that'. This kind of thing destroyed the competition."
The Davis Cup started as a contest between Britain and the United States in 1900 and now includes about 130 countries.
Sixteen nations compete in the first World Group round, with the losing eight then facing a playoff against the winners from the three regional groups, the Americas, Asia-Oceania and Europe-Africa, while the eight winners progress to the quarter-finals.
(Reporting by Matt Smith in Dubai; editing by Clare Lovell)