Hewitt still no fan of bastardised Davis Cup

Lleyton Hewitt will bury his frustration with the reduced-format, condensed Davis Cup as he plays out his captain’s role for Australia this week in the controversial re-write of the 119-year-old team competition.

The Aussie stalwart has never hidden his disapproval of the bastardised version of the classic competition, to be played out in its entirely by 18 nations this week in Madrid under Spanish management.

The International Tennis Federation which formerly ran the home-and-away, best-of-five-set show, has all but faded away, soothed by an optimistic payday guaranteed by Spanish management of $3 billion over the next quarter-century.

Play began on Monday with matches in six groups, with those winners plus the two other best finishers reaching the quarter-finals.

Hewitt remains old-school all the way when it comes to Davis Cup and the proud Aussie tennis tradition.

The 38-year-old played 43 ties for the nation which has won 28 Davis trophies.

“I still feel the same way,” Hewitt told Australian media. “In terms of the Davis Cup and how we all knew it … two of the biggest differences and what the competition was all about was home and away ties and matches played over five sets.

“You couldn’t do that in any kind of form in our great game and if you look at the pinnacle of our game, which are the grand slams, they are played over five sets.

“But this is a new format and as I said at the start of the year, our boys get to wear the green and gold and play for their country.

“It doesn’t matter if we are playing marbles out there, we’re going to lay everything on the line and do what we can to represent our country and make everyone back home proud.

“In terms of that, nothing changes and we have to go out there and do our best.”

The Davis experiment week will be missing five of the ATP Top 10, with Roger Federer, Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverev and Daniil Medvedev skipping the competition.

Spain’s Rafael Nadal would have had little choice about playing at home, while Novak Djokovic fronted up after a heavy defeat on Thursday in London at the ATP Finals when he was crushed by Federer, 

Zverev, who will be coining it this week through a series of exhibitions in Central and South America as he faces Federer out in the tennis wilderness, has said from the get-go that he would avoid the new Davis regime.

“I don’t think the format is Davis Cup anymore,” the German said. “Davis Cup is the most historic event that we have in tennis with its home-and-away ties.

“That’s Davis Cup for me, and not playing it at one venue for one week and deciding it all.”

Ticket sales are said to be slow and blog media reported that a few hours  before the start of first-day play that the paid online streaming service for the day’s matches was not yet up and running.

Written by Bill Scott for Grandslamtennis.online. To read more visit grandslamtennis.online

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