January 29, 2019 / 8:14 AM / 6 months ago

Tennis: Hewitt flays 'ridiculous' changes to Davis Cup format

FILE PHOTO - Tennis - Davis Cup - Semi-Finals - Belgium vs Australia - Palais 12, Brussels, Belgium - September 17, 2017 Australia captain Lleyton Hewitt celebrates during the match between Belgium's David Goffin and Australia's Nick Kyrgios REUTERS/Yves Herman

(Reuters) - Australia’s Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt has criticized Barcelona soccer player Gerard Pique and his Spanish investment group Kosmos for making sweeping changes to the 119-year-old tennis competition.

The Davis Cup will be revamped to create a tennis World Cup after the International Tennis Federation (ITF) signed a 25-year $3 billion deal with Kosmos where the home-away system will be replaced by an 18-team tournament played over a week in Madrid.

The new format will have the usual five sets reduced to three and Hewitt believes it was “ridiculous” to make so many changes to the sport’s premier international tournament.

“He (Pique) knows nothing about tennis. It’d be like me asking to change things for the Champions League,” Hewitt told reporters ahead of Australia’s Davis Cup qualifier against Bosnia-Herzegovina.

“The two biggest points of difference were, one, the home and away aspect of it and, secondly, was the best of five sets. If you look at the pinnacle of our sport, which are the four majors, they’re best of five sets.”

Former world number one Hewitt is also not in favor of playing the entire tournament at a single venue, saying it was an idea that would not work in tennis.

“Having it at one place I think is ridiculous, I don’t think many of the top players will play,” he added. “They’re basically running the ITF and a soccer league is the main sponsor of the Davis Cup.”

Australia play their Davis Cup qualifier against Bosnia-Herzegovina in Adelaide on Friday and Saturday.

Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty

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