Infotainment Factory: Stars abandon controversial new Davis Cup

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Sunday, 3 February 2019

Stars abandon controversial new Davis Cup


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It was the first chance for top players to vote with their feet on the revamped Davis Cup and the big players delivered a major snub.

Nearly half of the No.1 players from the 24 countries who played weekend Davis Cup qualifying ties were absent as a spot in the finals went on the line.

The list began at the very top: world No.1 Novak Djokovic skipped Serbia’s victorious tie against Uzbekistan after winning his seventh Australian Open last Sunday night.

He was far from alone. Among the 10 top-ranked players who opted out of Davis Cup duty were Roger Federer (Switzerland), Kei Nishikori (Japan) and Dominic Thiem (Austria). Of those three nations, only Japan won its qualifier, meaning Federer and Thiem won’t feature in the finals.

The biggest name in action over the weekend, Alexander Zverev, helped Germany qualify for the finals but has absolutely no intention of playing.

https://twitter.com/TennisTourTalk/status/1091717653427879936

This year’s ATP Finals will be played from November 10-17 in London. As far as the top players are concerned, the Davis Cup finale has been scheduled far too soon afterwards; as in immediately.

The Davis Cup finals will run from November 18-24 on hardcourt in Madrid. Eighteen teams will be split into six round-robin groups of three, with the winners and two strongest second-placed teams reaching the quarter-finals. Under the heavily-criticised revamp, ties in the week-long finals will feature only two singles matches and a doubles rubber, playing best-of-three sets rather than five.

"I don't think they know what they are doing," Australian captain Lleyton Hewitt said of Cup organisers, after his team beat Bosnia and Herzegovina 4-0 to earn a finals spot.

"I strongly disagree with it. I don't think it's the best thing for the competition and it's not from what the Davis Cup is meant to be about.

'It's taking away all the great things - the home and away ties and the best of five sets."

Italy captain Corrado Barazzutti also criticised the changes, telling PTI: "For a player like me, who comes from a different era, I think the previous format was much better in the past - play best of five. Now we play only in one place the final."

While the commitment of big-name players to Davis Cup was already mixed, the new format received underwhelming feedback. Below is the list of top-ranked players from each nation, with who did and didn’t play over the weekend.

Hewitt embraces de Minaur after Davis Cup win

BELGIUM bt BRAZIL 3-1: David Goffin (world No.21) absent; Thiago Monteiro (No.107) present.

SERBIA bt UZBEKISTAN 3-2: Novak Djokovic (No.1) absent; Denis Istomin (No.105) present.

AUSTRALIA bt BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA 4-0: Alex De Minaur (No.28) present; Damir Dzumhur (No.52) present.

ITALY bt INDIA 3-1: Fabio Fognini (No.15) absent; Prajnesh Gunneswaran (No.102) present.

GERMANY bt HUNGARY 5-0: Alexander Zverev (No.3) present; Marton Fucsovics (No.47) absent.

RUSSIA bt SWITZERLAND 3-1: Karen Khachanov (No.11) absent; Roger Federer (No.6) absent.

KAZAKHSTAN bt PORTUGAL 3-1: Mikhail Kukushkin (No.55) present; Joao Sousa (No.39) present.

THE NETHERLANDS bt CZECH REPUBLIC 3-1: Robin Haase (No.54) present; Tomas Berdych (No.79) absent.

COLOMBIA bt SWEDEN 3-0: Daniel Elahi Gahan (No.228) present; Elias Ymer (No.116) present.

CHILE bt AUSTRIA 3-2: Nicolas Jarry (No.41) present; Dominic Thiem (No.8) absent.

CANADA bt SLOVAKIA 3-2: Milos Raonic (No.14) absent; Martin Klizan (No.38) present.

JAPAN bt CHINA 3-2: Kei Nishikori (No.7) absent; Ze Zhang (No.208) present.

Ten of 24 top-ranked players declined to play Davis Cup. Raonic was an injury absentee (knee) rather than merely skipping Canada’s tie, while Nishikori retired in the Australian Open quarter-finals with a leg problem but was on the court training over the weekend.

It wasn’t just the national No.1s who were notable in their absence. Other players missing included Switzerland’s triple Grand Slam winner Stan Wawrinka, plus Italy world No.19 Marco Cecchinato.

Six nations had already qualified before the qualifiers. The 2018 semi-finalists Croatia, France, Spain and USA were pre-qualified, while Argentina and Great Britain got wildcards. Organisers will be sweating on the involvement of top players like Maric Cilic (No.10), Borna Coric (No.13), Lucas Pouille (No.17), Rafael Nadal (No.2), John Isner (No.9), Juan Martin del Potro (No.4) and hopefully Andy Murray (injury allowing).

They will also be hoping for a change of heart from the likes of Djokovic, Zverev, Khachanov and Nishikori; yet all of those players would be intent on reaching the ATP Finals. Nadal voiced support for the revamp when it was announced but his involvement so soon after the Finals, with careful management of his 32-year-old body paramount, must be in serious doubt.

The first year of the new Davis Cup format, conceived by football superstar Gerard Pique and his investment company, Kosmos, faces a baptism of fire amid such lukewarm interest. Kosmos seized control of the Davis Cup by signing a 25-year deal, worth a staggering $3 billion, with the International Tennis Federation.

Zverev was also outspoken when the revamp was announced, spelling out the concerns of top players.

“I will not play Davis Cup in November,” Zverev said last October. “In November, I do not want to play tennis any more. All the top guys will say the same thing.

“We have one-and-a-half months off in our season, and that’s at the end of November and December. Making a tournament at the end of November, it’s crazy.

"By the end of the year, we are all tired. For us as top players, we had discussions, we had talks with the ATP on how to make the season shorter and not longer. No, it’s not happening, and I guarantee you I won’t be the only one.”

Djokovic said previously that Davis Cup was not his priority: "I just feel like the date of the Davis Cup is really bad, especially for the top players." Federer said he "highly doubted" any participation in the new format: "The Davis Cup should not become the Pique Cup."

Hewitt, who won two Davis Cups for Australia as a player (1999, 2003), has been a fierce critic of the revamp and unloaded again after sealing a spot in the finals. He said there were major flaws with the new format, both emotional and logistical.

"I used to go to Davis Cup ties as a kid and you would dream of playing in that situation," Hewitt said.

"And I played massive ties home and away, some of my greatest memories are the away ties because you actually come together closer because there's nothing else you have to deal with apart from hanging out with your teammates.

"I actually think you get a stronger bond from a lot of those ties.

"It's going to be a totally different set-up, like whether you get your own locker rooms for each team, 18 countries? How the hell is that going to work?

"There so many question marks that I don't agree with ... I'm intrigued as to how it's going to work."

Another bizarre feature of the new Davis Cup is that countries are in one respect punished for being successful. A team only has the chance to host a home tie in qualifying, and semi-finalists from the previous year automatically qualify for the next year’s finals; meaning no home fixture, and no Davis Cup action at all for an entire year.

The other major threat to the standing of the Davis Cup after 119 years as the pinnacle of team tennis is the introduction of two other major team events.

The third edition of the Laver Cup will be played on September 20-22, having been favoured by the likes of Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Zverev in its first two years. Then in January 2020, the new 24-nation ATP Cup will be played in Australia across 10 days and three cities, hoping to lure big names for its inaugural year (which revives and rebrands the defunct World Team Cup).

The three teams tournaments are in something of an arms race, needing to offer more prizemoney to be attractive to players.

The Davis Cup has been touted to offer prizemoney rivalling that of a Grand Slam; figures of around $37 million have been reported, split between players and national federations. The Laver Cup offers participation fees based on a player’s ranking and status – Federer and Nadal have reportedly commanded $US2 million ($2.8 million) – plus the 2018 winners got $US250,000 ($345,000) each. The ATP Cup has been announced as a $US15 million ($20 million) tournament and will be the only team event that offers rankings points.

- with AAP

It was the first chance for top players to vote with their feet on the revamped Davis Cup and the big players delivered a major snub.

Nearly half of the No.1 players from the 24 countries who played weekend Davis Cup qualifying ties were absent as a spot in the finals went on the line.

The list began at the very top: world No.1 Novak Djokovic skipped Serbia’s victorious tie against Uzbekistan after winning his seventh Australian Open last Sunday night.

He was far from alone. Among the 10 top-ranked players who opted out of Davis Cup duty were Roger Federer (Switzerland), Kei Nishikori (Japan) and Dominic Thiem (Austria). Of those three nations, only Japan won its qualifier, meaning Federer and Thiem won’t feature in the finals.

The biggest name in action over the weekend, Alexander Zverev, helped Germany qualify for the finals but has absolutely no intention of playing.

https://twitter.com/TennisTourTalk/status/1091717653427879936

This year’s ATP Finals will be played from November 10-17 in London. As far as the top players are concerned, the Davis Cup finale has been scheduled far too soon afterwards; as in immediately.

The Davis Cup finals will run from November 18-24 on hardcourt in Madrid. Eighteen teams will be split into six round-robin groups of three, with the winners and two strongest second-placed teams reaching the quarter-finals. Under the heavily-criticised revamp, ties in the week-long finals will feature only two singles matches and a doubles rubber, playing best-of-three sets rather than five.

"I don't think they know what they are doing," Australian captain Lleyton Hewitt said of Cup organisers, after his team beat Bosnia and Herzegovina 4-0 to earn a finals spot.

"I strongly disagree with it. I don't think it's the best thing for the competition and it's not from what the Davis Cup is meant to be about.

'It's taking away all the great things - the home and away ties and the best of five sets."

Italy captain Corrado Barazzutti also criticised the changes, telling PTI: "For a player like me, who comes from a different era, I think the previous format was much better in the past - play best of five. Now we play only in one place the final."

While the commitment of big-name players to Davis Cup was already mixed, the new format received underwhelming feedback. Below is the list of top-ranked players from each nation, with who did and didn’t play over the weekend.

Hewitt embraces de Minaur after Davis Cup win

BELGIUM bt BRAZIL 3-1: David Goffin (world No.21) absent; Thiago Monteiro (No.107) present.

SERBIA bt UZBEKISTAN 3-2: Novak Djokovic (No.1) absent; Denis Istomin (No.105) present.

AUSTRALIA bt BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA 4-0: Alex De Minaur (No.28) present; Damir Dzumhur (No.52) present.

ITALY bt INDIA 3-1: Fabio Fognini (No.15) absent; Prajnesh Gunneswaran (No.102) present.

GERMANY bt HUNGARY 5-0: Alexander Zverev (No.3) present; Marton Fucsovics (No.47) absent.

RUSSIA bt SWITZERLAND 3-1: Karen Khachanov (No.11) absent; Roger Federer (No.6) absent.

KAZAKHSTAN bt PORTUGAL 3-1: Mikhail Kukushkin (No.55) present; Joao Sousa (No.39) present.

THE NETHERLANDS bt CZECH REPUBLIC 3-1: Robin Haase (No.54) present; Tomas Berdych (No.79) absent.

COLOMBIA bt SWEDEN 3-0: Daniel Elahi Gahan (No.228) present; Elias Ymer (No.116) present.

CHILE bt AUSTRIA 3-2: Nicolas Jarry (No.41) present; Dominic Thiem (No.8) absent.

CANADA bt SLOVAKIA 3-2: Milos Raonic (No.14) absent; Martin Klizan (No.38) present.

JAPAN bt CHINA 3-2: Kei Nishikori (No.7) absent; Ze Zhang (No.208) present.

Ten of 24 top-ranked players declined to play Davis Cup. Raonic was an injury absentee (knee) rather than merely skipping Canada’s tie, while Nishikori retired in the Australian Open quarter-finals with a leg problem but was on the court training over the weekend.

It wasn’t just the national No.1s who were notable in their absence. Other players missing included Switzerland’s triple Grand Slam winner Stan Wawrinka, plus Italy world No.19 Marco Cecchinato.

Six nations had already qualified before the qualifiers. The 2018 semi-finalists Croatia, France, Spain and USA were pre-qualified, while Argentina and Great Britain got wildcards. Organisers will be sweating on the involvement of top players like Maric Cilic (No.10), Borna Coric (No.13), Lucas Pouille (No.17), Rafael Nadal (No.2), John Isner (No.9), Juan Martin del Potro (No.4) and hopefully Andy Murray (injury allowing).

They will also be hoping for a change of heart from the likes of Djokovic, Zverev, Khachanov and Nishikori; yet all of those players would be intent on reaching the ATP Finals. Nadal voiced support for the revamp when it was announced but his involvement so soon after the Finals, with careful management of his 32-year-old body paramount, must be in serious doubt.

The first year of the new Davis Cup format, conceived by football superstar Gerard Pique and his investment company, Kosmos, faces a baptism of fire amid such lukewarm interest. Kosmos seized control of the Davis Cup by signing a 25-year deal, worth a staggering $3 billion, with the International Tennis Federation.

Zverev was also outspoken when the revamp was announced, spelling out the concerns of top players.

“I will not play Davis Cup in November,” Zverev said last October. “In November, I do not want to play tennis any more. All the top guys will say the same thing.

“We have one-and-a-half months off in our season, and that’s at the end of November and December. Making a tournament at the end of November, it’s crazy.

"By the end of the year, we are all tired. For us as top players, we had discussions, we had talks with the ATP on how to make the season shorter and not longer. No, it’s not happening, and I guarantee you I won’t be the only one.”

Djokovic said previously that Davis Cup was not his priority: "I just feel like the date of the Davis Cup is really bad, especially for the top players." Federer said he "highly doubted" any participation in the new format: "The Davis Cup should not become the Pique Cup."

Hewitt, who won two Davis Cups for Australia as a player (1999, 2003), has been a fierce critic of the revamp and unloaded again after sealing a spot in the finals. He said there were major flaws with the new format, both emotional and logistical.

"I used to go to Davis Cup ties as a kid and you would dream of playing in that situation," Hewitt said.

"And I played massive ties home and away, some of my greatest memories are the away ties because you actually come together closer because there's nothing else you have to deal with apart from hanging out with your teammates.

"I actually think you get a stronger bond from a lot of those ties.

"It's going to be a totally different set-up, like whether you get your own locker rooms for each team, 18 countries? How the hell is that going to work?

"There so many question marks that I don't agree with ... I'm intrigued as to how it's going to work."

Another bizarre feature of the new Davis Cup is that countries are in one respect punished for being successful. A team only has the chance to host a home tie in qualifying, and semi-finalists from the previous year automatically qualify for the next year’s finals; meaning no home fixture, and no Davis Cup action at all for an entire year.

The other major threat to the standing of the Davis Cup after 119 years as the pinnacle of team tennis is the introduction of two other major team events.

The third edition of the Laver Cup will be played on September 20-22, having been favoured by the likes of Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Zverev in its first two years. Then in January 2020, the new 24-nation ATP Cup will be played in Australia across 10 days and three cities, hoping to lure big names for its inaugural year (which revives and rebrands the defunct World Team Cup).

The three teams tournaments are in something of an arms race, needing to offer more prizemoney to be attractive to players.

The Davis Cup has been touted to offer prizemoney rivalling that of a Grand Slam; figures of around $37 million have been reported, split between players and national federations. The Laver Cup offers participation fees based on a player’s ranking and status – Federer and Nadal have reportedly commanded $US2 million ($2.8 million) – plus the 2018 winners got $US250,000 ($345,000) each. The ATP Cup has been announced as a $US15 million ($20 million) tournament and will be the only team event that offers rankings points.

- with AAP http://bit.ly/2Sb68JX
//

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