As Austria returns to lockdown, no Davis Cup tennis fans will be allowed in Innsbruck. In Turin, capacity will be at 60%, with Italian children occupying large areas of the stands due to poor ticket sales. In Madrid, attendance will be limited to a maximum of 75%.
This isn't likely what organizers had in mind for the Davis Cup Finals' comeback, which comes amid yet another format change after last year's cancellation due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The biggest criticisms from players after the 18-team event was hosted exclusively in Madrid over seven days in 2019 centered on late-night matches played in front of generally empty arenas and little rest between matches. As a result, this year's competition, which begins on Thursday, will be spread out over three cities and 11 days. However, with the return of coronavirus outbreaks in Europe, things have gotten more problematic for tennis' oldest team competition.
“Davis Cup was a competition where we could play in front of incredible crowds," Pierre-Hughes Herbert said. "In Madrid, we didn’t play in front of a full stadium. It was almost (like) closed doors.” Innsbruck, France will be in a group alongside the United Kingdom and the Czech Republic, where it will be behind closed doors.
“I’m sad for Austria, they have so many (coronavirus) cases. I’m sad for the competition that it cannot be a full party,” added Herbert, The semifinals and final will be placed in Madrid, with each city hosting two groups of three teams and at least one quarterfinal.