Davis Cup overhauls format with season-ending team event

NEW YORK -- The Davis Cup will be decided with a season-ending, 18-team tournament beginning next year.

The new format replaces the one in which the Davis Cup is played over four weekends throughout the year. The top team event in men's tennis is often skipped by elite players already facing a crowded schedule.

The changes were approved Thursday after a vote at the International Tennis Federation conference in Orlando, Florida. A two-thirds majority from the 140 nations represented at the meeting was needed.

Beginning in 2019, 24 nations will compete in a home-or-away qualifying round in February, with the 12 winners advancing to the final tournament. They will be joined by the four semifinalists from the previous year, along with two wild-card teams.

The first championship will be held Nov. 18-24, 2019, in either Madrid or Lille, France.

"We are very pleased the ITF member nations voted to approve the Davis Cup proposal," the USTA said in a statement. "The new format will project Davis Cup into the 21st century and elevate tennis' premiere annual team competition to the heights it deserves."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.