The group stage of the 2022 Davis Cup finals will be held in mid-September following players’ pleas against a late finish to the season.

The 2021 edition of the men’s team competition finished on December 5 at the Madrid Arena last year when a Daniil Medvedev-led Russian team defeated Croatia in the final.

That left players unhappy that they had less than a month before the new season kicked off in Australia.

The 2022 Finals will now see 16 nations competing in four groups across four cities with each staging one group of four teams from September 14-18, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and event owners Kosmos Tennis said on Thursday.

The top eight will then advance to the knockout stages, which will serve as the season-ending event on the men’s tennis calendar and will be held from November 23-27 in a fifth host city.

The season will finish, therefore, a week earlier than in 2021.

“Players and captains were clear that they like the changes to the format so far, but want to avoid the late finish to the season,” tournament director Albert Costa said in a statement.

“The decision to move the group stage to September addresses this.”

As 2021 finalists, Croatia and the Russian team have secured automatic qualification for the next Finals while Serbia and Britain have been handed wildcards.

Joining them will be the 12 winning teams from next month’s home-and-away qualifiers, which will feature Lleyton Hewitt’s Australian team against Hungary in Sydney on March 4 and 5.