London, 3 March 2011 | AP

The International Tennis Federation announced the new “dead rubber” rule on Wednesday ahead of this weekend’s World Group first-round matches.

Under the change, if one team clinches victory in the best-of-five series after the fourth match on Sunday – the first reverse singles – and that match lasted at least four sets, the captains can agree to scrap the second reverse singles.

However, all five matches still have to be played if a team earns an unbeatable 3-0 lead after Saturday’s doubles, or the tie is decided after the fourth match which has gone only three sets. All “dead rubbers” will continue to be played over best-of-three tiebreaker sets.