Novak Djokovic and Serbia win inaugural ATP Cup in Sydney. Photo ATP Tour .com
Lleyton Hewitt on Tuesday echoed the call of Novak Djokovic for a re-think of the controversial Davis Cup format which has made the venerable competition a candidate for extinction.
Australia’s Davis Cup bemoaned the entire concept of the reduced one-week shootout among 18 teams, which held its inaugural edition last November and was won by Spain with Rafael Nadal in Madrid.
The 38-year-old double Grand Slam winner fears for the future of Davis Cup after stiff competition from the successful debut of the ATP Cup team event last month across Australia.
With the Davis failing to draw big crowds – except when Spain played – and the elimination of the classic home-and-away format played over the course of a season, Hewitt believes that the successful launch of the ATP Cup spells big trouble for the older competition whose roots go back more than a century.
“I think that the (Davis sponsor) ITF’s under a lot of pressure though, purely with how strong the ATP Cup performed as well and that format and the crowds,” he said as his side prepared for next weekend’s World Group qualifying tie with Brazil in Adelaide.
The ATP Cup, which served as a lead-in to the Australian Open, played its preliminary rounds to good crowds in Perth, Brisbane and Sydney last month, with Serbia (with Djokovic) winning the title from the 24-nation competition.
“I might be biased but the crowds in Australia across the board with every single country that played was pretty amazing,” Hewitt said.
“It was a great spectacle, not only live but I think it came across unbelievably well on TV.”
Djokovic, headlining the Dubai event this week, said that with the Davis Finals and the ATP Cup scheduled just six weeks apart in November and January respectively, the time clash is too much for many players.
The Serb added that if the situation remained in a stalemate, he would have to choose between one or the other.
The president of the ATP Player Council called on the events to combine or die.
Hewitt, a Davis stalwart for Australia during his career, is doubtful a bureaucratic solution can be found between warring international powerhouses such as the International Tennis Federation and the ATP.
“I’m not sure if they’ll merge though, to be honest. It’s been pretty hard to deal with the ITF for 25 years so I’m not sure it’s going to change overnight now.”