It’s a 10,000-seater arena and when it’s empty, it feels wrong. The format will have to change if it’s going to be successful again.
Andy Murray has slammed the current format of the Davis Cup, saying it is a “shame” that some of the ties at one of tennis’s oldest tournaments are being played out in “what feels like an empty stadium.”
While 9,000-strong crowds have turned out to support Murray and his British team-mates at the finals this week, organisers have come under fire for scores of empty seats during other matches between Australia, Switzerland and France.
Earlier this week, three-time grand slam Stanislas Wawrinka shared an angry social media post which showed only a handful of supporters inside Manchester’s AO Arena for Switzerland’s tie with France.
— Stanislas Wawrinka (@stanwawrinka) September 12, 2023
The format of the Davis Cup was controversially changed in 2019, when home and away ties were scrapped in favour of an end-of-season World Cup-style event in a bid to revamp the tournament and attract buy-in from the sport’s top players.
“We’re fortunate here because we get to play all the matches in front of a brilliant atmosphere and a great crowd,” said Murray, who was on the ATP player council when initial discussions about a new format were first aired. “It is a shame when France and Australia – two of the biggest tennis nations who love the Davis Cup – are playing in what feels like an empty stadium.
“It’s a 10,000-seater arena and when it’s empty, it feels wrong. The format will have to change if it’s going to be successful again. All the players love the home and away ties, I haven’t heard any player who says that they don’t. The fans love the home and away ties as well. Hopefully there’s a way we can get it back to that.”
Murray was speaking after closing out an energy-sapping 6-7 6-4 6-4 win over the world number 152 Leandro Riedi, which he dedicated to his late grandmother, Ellen, after revealing he had missed her funeral to compete in the tie.