David Haggerty urged countries to back Davis Cup and Fed Cup reforms ©Getty Images

International Tennis Federation (ITF) President David Haggerty urged countries to back reforms to the Davis Cup and Fed Cup competitions as the organisation's Conference and Annual General Meeting (AGM) began in Vietnam.

Major changes to the premier men's and women's team competitions are on the table in Ho Chi Minh City.

Haggerty, the American voted into the top job to replace Italy's Francesco Ricci Bitti in September 2015, believes the changes are vital to safeguard the flagship events.

The competitions have suffered due to a packed tennis schedule which has led to the top players often not seeing them as a priority and dropping out.

"The ITF must lead and this week I need your support to ratify the significant changes that will strengthen the ITF," he said.

"This week we must think about what is best for the ITF." 

Proposed changes to the Davis Cup include all singles matches played as best-of-three tiebreak sets rather than the current format of five.

No dead rubbers will be played if the tie is won in a fourth match lasting three sets and at least 90 minutes.

A match tiebreak will also replace the third set in all Davis Cup dead rubbers.

Hosting costs for national associations and player commitments will each be reduced.

A new World Cup of Tennis is due to be established, featuring both the Davis Cup final and the Fed Cup final.

However, a decision to announce Swiss city Geneva as the first host in November 2018 has been deferred until next year following feedback from players and fans.

Reforms to the Davis Cup are a major part of the agenda in Vietnam ©Getty Images
Reforms to the Davis Cup are a major part of the agenda in Vietnam ©Getty Images

Haggerty also spoke about how the ITF would work for countries around the world with a record 116 delegations present.

The number includes Bahrain, Democratic Republic Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea, Guyana, Kiribati, Mauritania, Namibia, Nepal, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Tahiti and Zimbabwe who are all appearing at the AGM for the first time.

The American said that spending in the ITF's development programme would increase by more than $4 million (£3 million/€3.3 million) between 2016 and 2018.

This was a subject covered by the ITF's executive director of tennis development Luca Santilli, who told delegates how the organisation's development strategy aimed to support countries deliver the next generation of players and fans.

Initiatives include a Grand Slam Development Fund, a National Training Network Programme, a Coaches Eductation Programme and schemes for young players.

"Our national and regional associations have a key role in in working together with the ITF to change lives, and provide opportunity to young people to develop their talents and skills and achieve their dreams through tennis," said Santilli.

The event in Vietnam continues tomorrow before votes on key decisions on Friday (August 4).

Constitutional amendments and candidates for the ITF Services to the Game Awards will be decided.

The first International Tennis Hall of Fame Global Organisation of Distinction Award will be presented and the location for the 2018 Conference and AGM will be confirmed.