Davis Cup: Lleyton Hewitt says ITF and Gerard Pique's Kosmos group are 'killing the competition'
Lleyton Hewitt unhappy with International Tennis Federation and Gerard Pique's Kosmos group, who are reported to be preparing to announce a five-year deal to hold the Davis Cup Finals in Abu Dhabi; "I think it's ridiculous"
Last Updated: 26/11/21 1:22pm
Lleyton Hewitt believes moving the Davis Cup to the Middle East would be "selling the soul" of the competition.
The International Tennis Federation and Gerard Pique's Kosmos group, which effectively took over the Davis Cup with a huge investment in 2018, are reported to be preparing to announce a five-year deal to hold the finals event in Abu Dhabi.
The inaugural event in 2019 took place in Madrid while this year's finals, which began on Thursday, have group stages in the Spanish capital, Innsbruck and Turin before coming together in Madrid next weekend.
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"If they are going and selling the soul of the Davis Cup to the Middle East for another five years, I think it's ridiculous, and they are really killing the competition"
Speaking after Australia's 3-0 loss to Croatia, captain Hewitt said: "I think it's ridiculous. It's not what Davis Cup is about. I have been pretty vocal about the whole thing for the last three or four years now.
"Even for us here tonight, this is a wonderful stadium but it's not a massive crowd. That's not what Davis Cup is about. Some of my greatest memories are playing in Davis Cup, semis and finals in front of packed houses.
"Didn't matter if it was in Australia or if it was Hawaii. The atmosphere was incredible. Sometimes the away ties were nearly as special because you had to find a way to be able to gel together as a team.
"Davis Cup was held in the highest regard because it was up there with the pinnacle of our sport in men's tennis, which was five sets.
"We threw that out the door, and now we are throwing the home and away out the door, as well. Playing a qualifying tie here or there, best-of-three sets, is not the same as having home-and-away main draw matches throughout the year.
"So, if they are going and selling the soul of the Davis Cup to the Middle East for another five years, I think it's ridiculous, and they are really killing the competition."
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Great Britain's Leon Smith used the captain's press conference to call for more consultation with players and those around the teams, but Hewitt is not holding his breath.
He said: "We didn't have input four years ago mate. I'm not sure it's going to matter much now. It's been run by a soccer player and his company. So it's totally different to anything that tennis has been through in the past and such a big event.
"The ITF certainly didn't come to me and ask my thoughts or pretty much any Australian who has had pretty much the richest tradition in this competition along with two or three other countries for over 100 years."