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A Fed Cup round consist of 2 national teams playing 5 matches(4 singles & 1 doubles). Whoever wins 3 matches wins the round.

Why do teams still play a dead rubber doubles match when the round is already won by a team? ie. If team A wins the first 3 singles matches, thereby winning the round, they skip the 4th singles match but still play the remaining doubles match which is essentially a dead rubber. Why?

  • Wikipedia articles on Davis Cup says: "It is common for younger or lower-ranked team members to play the remaining dead rubbers in order for them to gain Davis Cup experience." I guess the reasons for doing this in Fed Cup might be similar. Another reason might be spectators. Quote from here: "This is part of the ITF’s continued effort to make Fed Cup more player friendly, while maintaining a good spectator experience on the Sunday." – Martin Feb 8 '16 at 9:22
  • In any case, checking ITF rulebook to see what exactly it says about this might be a good idea. – Martin Feb 8 '16 at 9:22
  • @Ale AFAIK Fed Cup is supervised by ITF, not WTA. So I am not sure that (wta) is the right tag for this question. – Martin Feb 8 '16 at 9:26
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According to 2016 ITF Fed Cup Regulations:

33. TIE - HOW DECIDED
iv) For all Ties in the World Group and World Group II;
With respect to the second day, if the third singles decides the outcome of the Tie, the fourth singles match will not be played and the dead doubles will be played instead.
If the fourth singles match decides the outcome of the Tie the dead doubles match will be played.

So one possible answer to your question could be simply because the rules say so.

However, we might still ask what motivated that the rules are stated this way. (Although answers to this might be, to some extent, speculative.) There might be several factors:

  • For the teams it might be good that young players might gain Fed Cup experience. So they are more likely to appear in dead rubbers. (For example, I am not sure whether 18-years old Daria Kasatkina would have played her first Fed Cup match this weekend, if the match had not been already decided before the doubles. If you look at last year's Fed Cup World Group matches, you will find some players without previous Fed Cup experience in dead rubbers, such as Denisa Allertová or Vitalia Diatchenko.)
  • From the viewpoint of ITF, which is the governing organization of Fed Cup, they might try to seek balance between not to put too much strain on players (who complain about long season and too many matches to play anyway) and having something to show to spectators (which definitely want to watch some tennis, even if the match is already decided). Quote from the article ITF revises Fed Cup dead rubber policy on the Fed Cup website (February 2013) supports this point:

ITF Executive Vice President Juan Margets said: “The enhancement of the dead rubber policy came in response to requests from players, captains and National Associations following its successful introduction in Davis Cup. This is part of the ITF’s continued effort to make Fed Cup more player friendly, while maintaining a good spectator experience on the Sunday."

There is also one more thing, but I never heard about a case where this rule was actually applied. (And I hope there never will be such case.) In the case that a player played in the final and has a positive doping test, even the matches which were originally dead rubbers might matter for the final result.

I will quote the Fed Cup Regulations again:

If any player following completion of the procedures, including appeal, set forth in the ITF Tennis Anti-Doping Programme is found to have committed a Doping Offence whether in a tournament and/or in out-of competition testing and/or in any round of the Competition, and/or otherwise, no disqualified match result shall be re-assessed except in the case of the Finals where such player’s wins (if any) will be reversed and all unplayed dead rubbers will be awarded to the opposing team of such player. This may result in the team which originally lost the final being declared the Champion Nation.

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    I generally agree with what you're saying here, but none of it really explains why they play the doubles match but not the fourth singles match - everything you've said about player experience, showing something to the fans etc would apply just about equally to a singles match. – Philip Kendall Feb 8 '16 at 13:42
  • Ok, so basically you are saying that this would be answer to the question: "Why dead rubbers are played in Fed Cup." However, this is probably not what the OP is asking. (Perhaps depending on the interpretation of the question.) – Martin Feb 8 '16 at 13:46
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    A +1 from me but still not an "acceptable" answer. Especially, in women's tennis, it is more logical to have a dead rubber singles match be played than a doubles match to give experience to young debutante players as all most all would be focusing on a singles career. – KharoBangdo Feb 12 '16 at 7:03

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