Australian captain Lleyton Hewitt is outraged at the proposed plan to take the Davis Cup to the Middle East.
In 2018, the International Tennis Federation and Kosmos Tennis, founded by Barcelona star Gerard Pique, sealed the deal to revamp the Davis Cup.
It went from a home-and-away tournament to a 18-team year-end Davis Cup Finals. Pique’s company is now on the verge of moving to Abu Dhabi for the next five years.
“I’ve only heard a rumour but I think it’s ridiculous, it’s not what Davis Cup is about,” said Hewitt, after Australia’s 3-0 defeat to Croatia in the ongoing Davis Cup Finals.
The 2021 Finals are being held across three venues in Europe: Turin, Innsbruck and Madrid.
According to the new Davis Cup format, the matches are played as best-of-three sets.
“The Davis Cup was held in the highest regard, up there with the pinnacle of our sport in tennis – with matches played over five sets,” the two-time singles Grand Slam champion said.
“We threw that out the door and then we’ve thrown the home and away out the door as well.
“Playing a qualifying tie here or there, best of three sets (in the recent revamped format), is not the same as having home and away, main draw matches over the year.
“So if they’re going and selling the soul of the Davis Cup to the Middle East for another five years, I think it’s ridiculous, and they’re really killing the competition.”
The talk of Abu Dhabi getting a long-term deal was also met with a frosty response from France and Great Britain, with captains calling for further discussions.
France captain Sebastien Grosjean wants a format similar to the old style Davis Cup.
“I think it’s time to sit down with the authorities and the players to see how we can bring the Davis Cup back to the home-and-away format, to find a formula that will allow it to be integrated into the calendar and for the best players to come and play it,” Grosjean said.