Don’t expect any Hewitt-esque five set epics in the Davis Cup next year.
Not only has Lleyton officially retired from Australia’s team after 16 years of service but the International Tennis Federation has announced a rule change to reduce the length of matches.
From next year the international teams tournament will introduce a fifth set tie-breaker to decide singles and doubles rubbers if required.
The announcement was made last week at the ITF’s general assembly in Chile.
Under the current system, which is employed at the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon, men play the best of five sets with no tie-breaker in the last.
For example, in the first round of the 2015 Davis Cup in March, Argentina’s Leonardo Mayer defeated Brazilian Joao Souza 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (7-5) 5-7 5-7 15-13 in a match that lasted six hours and 42 minutes — the longest singles match in Davis Cup history.
The new format, which is used at the US Open, is designed to reduce the potential attrition for players thus encouraging more of the world’s top players to compete.
Australia will host the USA in the opening round of the 2016 Davis Cup World Group in March with a venue still to be named.