America's number two tennis player Andre Agassi has announced that he will not be playing for the US in next month's Davis Cup first round tie against Switzerland.
The world number six, who is currently in Melbourne to defend his Australian Open title, confirmed his withdrawal at a Monday press conference.
Agassi said he would not be playing any Davis Cup tennis as long as the competition retained its current format. The American argued that the playing programme was not compatible with players' needs.
Agassi's pullout from the Basel meeting gives a further boost to Switzerland's hopes, which had already been raised by the earlier withdrawal of American number one Pete Sampras.
Swiss Davis Cup captain, Jakob Hlasek, said that the latest US setback put a whole new spin on his team's chances.
"It opens up a new perspective for us," he insisted. "Without Sampras and Agassi the situation is becoming very interesting.
"The Americans will be relying on Todd Martin and Jan-Michael Gambill in the singles," Hlasek continued, "while in the doubles (US captain) Patrick McEnroe will have to find a new partner for Martin."
Switzerland are almost certain to be without Marc Rosset, after Hlasek confirmed that he had been unable to talk the player into rejoining the team.
Rosset and Hlasek fell out after the Swiss captain dropped Rosset from an earlier Davis Cup tie in order to concentrate on the development of younger players.
"Nothing has changed," Hlasek said after meeting briefly with Rosset. "I am not going to spend the rest of the week asking him if he wants to play."
swissinfo with agencies