The ITF has abolished the Group I and II at the regional level competition of the Davis Cup to ensure that more nations are able to compete on a worldwide basis. This is the second major change after after introducing the year-end Finals instead of competing on the home and away format.
According to the new structure introduced by the International Tennis Federation (ITF), the 12 losing nations from the Qualifiers in March next year along with 12 winners from the newly-introduced World Group I Play-offs, will form the World Group I. The 12 losers from World Group I Play-offs and 12 winners of World Group II Play-offs will form the World Group II. The Play-offs which continues to be in the home and away format in two-day ties will be held alongside the Qualifiers.
"The expanded structure, which follows extensive consultation with National Associations, will ensure more nations are able to compete on a worldwide basis, with more opportunities for home-and-away ties against a wider variety of opponents," the ITF told PTI in a statement.
However, this move now makes India's road to the Qualifiers even tougher, as they will have to contend with superior European, South and North American nations in order to qualify.
"It's interesting but obviously, it will be tougher for us. We were always dominant in Asia. The format needed a change so they did it but from India's perspective, every match will be tough. When we were playing against New Zealand or Chinese Taipei or Pakistan, Indonesia or the Philippines, we were expected to win but that luxury is not going to be there anymore. We have wait for about two years to see how the players respond to this. Right now, the players will accept it but we have to see if it works or not," Mahesh Bhupathi, India's non-playing captain, said.
India will have to wait to see where it is positioned in the line-up for the 2020 Davis Cup since its tie against Pakistan has already been postponed due to prevailing political tension between the neighbours
"They are coming up with these changes because there is a lot of competition for the Davis Cup now. They want to make Davis Cup more appealing to the world. We have to see how it pans it. It's too early to say whether if it will bring Davis Cup back to limelight," Zeeshan Ali, India's Davis Cup coach, said.
"As far as India is concerned, it is definitely more tough now, going forward because as a country we do not have many top players. It affects us as a team. For us to do well now, we always need our top players available for the ties," Ali added.