Lleyton Hewitt’s pride in his Australian team’s performance in reaching the Davis Cup final has been accompanied by another scathing tirade against organizers who he believes have “really screwed up” the once-revered tennis competition.
At the end of another week, when the format of the “Men’s Tennis World Cup” was heavily criticized because of small crowds at neutral venues across Europe, Australian captain Hewitt sighed that the event had become a “disaster”. .
His team is among eight who qualified for November’s knockout finals in Malaga – but Hewitt, a vocal critic of changes to the venerable event’s format, is far from alone in despairing. that hosts Spain will not be there.
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An event once famous for its home-and-away finals in front of partisan crowds will feature a week of action in November without the excitement of a Carlos Alcaraz-powered home team and just eight neutral teams.
Asked in Manchester whether he thought this would create a challenging situation, Hewitt agreed and said it was time to get rid of the organizers who he believes ruined the event.
“Absolutely (the final will be a challenge). I’ve been saying for years that the two greatest things the Davis Cup had were the best-of-five sets because it was the pinnacle of our sport and the home-and-away format,” he said.
“Playing in front of 500 or 1,000 people is not the same. But as I’ve told my team again and again, the pride lies in wearing the green and gold. That’s why no matter what format we have, we’ll still put everything on the line.
“But do I agree that this format is good? No, not for a minute.
“We need to get rid of the people at the top… we saw what happened, it was supposed to be a 25-year thing and it turned into a four-year disaster.
“So until changes are made, we’re going to sit back and go through the exact same thing every year.
“I can say ’til the cows come home, but they really screwed up.”
But former Australian doubles star Mark Woodforde, chairman of the Davis Cup committee, has warned against returning to the old format “that killed the Davis Cup”.
He says next year’s competition will remain as it is, adding: “We believe this is the format in which we can achieve success.”
Hewitt’s outburst came amid even greater disillusionment over a strange week of group qualifying in Manchester, in which games against the home British team attracted large crowds and a great atmosphere, while games with neutral teams attracted poor attendances.
British star Andy Murray remarked: “It’s a shame when France and Australia, two of the biggest tennis nations who love their Davis Cup, play in front of what feels like an empty stadium.”
Three-time Grand Slam winner Stan Wawrinka was so disgusted by his Swiss team’s turnout against France that he posted a video of the empty stands and sarcastically “thanked” former soccer player Gerard Pique and International Tennis Federation (ITF) organizers. .
Pique and his company Kosmos have been instrumental in restructuring the competition over the past four years, with home and away games replaced by week-long group stages and finals involving multiple countries at the same venue.
“It was clearly a disaster,” Wawrinka said, deeply critical of Kosmos, which had promised to invest $3 billion in tennis over 25 years but canceled its deal this year after less than five years with one failed Now there is a risk of legal proceedings.