Sport Tennis Australian tennis aces say the Davis Cup is ‘dead’ under new format

Australian tennis aces say the Davis Cup is ‘dead’ under new format

Lleyton Hewitt is returning ... again. Photo: Getty
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The Davis Cup is “dead” to current and former Australian tennis players including Lleyton Hewitt and Pat Cash, who say changes to the 118-year-old competition format will struggle to attract players.

Australia’s Davis Cup captain Hewitt, an outspoken opponent of the change, slammed the decision as “a money grab”.

Former Wimbledon champ and Davis Cup loyal servant Cash called the decision announcement a “sad day for men’s tennis” in a post on Twitter.

Many past and present players are now tweeting under the hashtag “RIP Davis Cup.”

Meanwhile, Australia’s highest ranked men’s singles player, Nick Kyrgios, showed his indifference to the ITF decision, responding to Australian number four John Millman’s tweet on the “radical change”.

It was a busy day for Kyrgios. He also made headlines following reports he told his own box he wasn’t going to try during the second set of his match against Croatia’s Borna Coric at the Cincinnati Open.

Down 2-0 in the second set, Kyrgios said he was “tanking”, according to Egyptian tennis journalist Reem Abulleil who reported he overheard him.

“You’ll never see a bigger tank than the next three games,” tweeted Abulleil.

Later Kygrios told reporters he “competed too hard in the first set to sort of just let the match slip and not give myself a chance to win, at least.

“The second set, when I was 4-0 down, I knew there was no real point going out there and competing and obviously waste energy trying to battle back.

“It ended up being a smart move.”

On more global matters, the International Tennis Federation vote to turn the David Cup, the oldest men’s team tournament into an 18-team ‘World Cup’ event, was taken at their annual general meeting in Florida on Thursday.

Unhappy Tennis Australia representatives are returning from the United States empty-handed after attempting to put a stop the 25-year, $4.1 billion proposal, spearheaded by Spanish soccer star Gerard Pique’s investment group Kosmos and American billionaire Larry Ellison.

The reformed event will feature a two-day format with best-of-three set matches instead of best-of-five-in a week-long tournament starting in February next year in either Madrid, Spain or Lille, France.

Prior to the decision, Australian tennis heavyweights including Hewitt, Neale Fraser and John Newcombe said the proposal would kill off the Davis Cup.

“There are a lot of people, and a lot of current and former players, who are frustrated by it,” Hewitt said in a Tennis Australia statement.

“It is a money deal. How can a billionaire come along and buy into one of the sport’s biggest events, most important events?

Tennis Australia said reform was vital but the proposal took away too much of what made the Davis Cup “unique and special”, particularly the home-and-away aspect which has brought fans around the world.

“The ITF now has a major responsibility to ensure the great heritage and prestige of the competition is somehow retained in this new version of Davis Cup,” Tennis Australia said in a statement on Friday.

Of the 210 ITF member nations, 150 voted to pass the changes.

Australian was not alone in its ire towards the changes.

Germany and Britain also voted against the proposal, asking for more clarity and greater debate after the proposal was first announced without consultation in February.

The ITF says the new format will ensure all doubles matches will remain live during the two-day format, including two singles matches on day one and a doubles match, followed by the two reverse singles matches on day two.

“The nations voted to give the [ITF] board the flexibility to trial changes, and the board has acted quickly to make this happen in 2018,” ITF president David Haggerty said.