By Martyn Herman
MADRID (Reuters) – Organisers of the Davis Cup Finals in Madrid have brought forward the start times of Friday’s last-eight ties by half an hour after a week of late finishes at La Caja Magica.
Serbia’s clash with Russia will start at 0930GMT with the matches between Britain and Germany and hosts Spain and Argentina beginning at 1630GMT.
The inaugural edition of the revamped competition featuring 18 nations playing off for the trophy has proved a scheduling challenge with two ties on each of the three courts each day.
With a tie consisting of two best-of-three set singles rubbers and a doubles, that is potentially 18 sets of tennis on one court. Britain’s tie with the Netherlands on Wednesday lasted almost nine hours and caused a two-hour delay to the start time of the evening match.
It was a similar story on Court 2 where Italy and the United States finished their tie at the ludicrous time of 4am. The previous evening, Spain’s clash with Russia ended close to 2am.
Players and captains have been reasonably understanding of the situation, but say the schedule will need to be addressed for next year when the Finals are also in Madrid.
“It’s the first year, and there’s going to be some things like that,” British captain Leon Smith said. “It happens at even more established events. Jo Konta v (Garbine) Muguruza at the Australian (Open).
“It’s sometimes bad luck, isn’t it? It’s something that they’ll look at next year, and look at the scheduling and how to mitigate against something like that happening.”
Rafael Nadal said the late finishes made trouble for players and fans while captain Sergi Bruguera said something would have to be done.
“You cannot finish the games at two in the morning. This must be adjusted next time.”
Serbia’s Novak Djokovic had some sympathy.
“With the rest between matches and the singles players, double players, ceremonies, and all these different things that are part of the protocol, it’s always going to be very complicated to get everything done on time,” he said.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Pritha Sarkar)