Former world No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt on three frustrations with Davis Cup format.
By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Tuesday, November 28, 2023
Devoted Davis Cup competitor Lleyton Hewitt says the competition has been diminished by three major mis-steps.
Captain Hewitt led Australia to its second straight Davis Cup final last weekend where it fell to Italy.
Jannik Sinner won the final eight straight games crushing Alex de Minaur 6-3, 6-0 sealing Italy’s first Davis Cup championship in 47 years with a 2-0 triumph over Australia in the Davis Cup final in Malaga, Spain.
Asked to assess the state of Davis Cup today, Hewitt cited three frustrating changes he asserts have gutted the heart of Davis Cup.
1. The elimination of home-and-away ties has diminished the electricity and energetic fan passion Davis Cup evoked throughout its history.
2. Reducing matches from best-of-five sets to best-of-three sets has drained some of the dizzying drama from Davis Cup.
3. Staging the Davis Cup finals on a hard court in Malaga, Spain has eliminated the challenges of playing on different surfaces in different conditions creating a uniform set of conditions that squelch the variety Davis Cup was long known for, Hewitt says.
“Malaga has put on a great event in terms of what they can do with the format that they’ve got,” Hewitt told the media in Malaga. “Their hands are tied. There’s no home-and-away and there’s no five sets, so it’s not ideal. We are playing on a surface that, yeah, I’m really sick of playing on, to be honest. That’s not what Davis Cup is about. It’s playing on clay, grass, outdoor elements. You know, there’s a lot of different things.
“Yeah, it’s obviously pretty frustrating, I think, that we don’t get all the different surfaces and conditions throughout Davis Cup anymore, and especially in the big matches, as well.”
Hewitt, a member of Australia’s Davis Cup championship teams in 1999 and 2003, has been a vocal critic of Davis Cup changes in recent years.
Hall of Famer Hewitt remains a passionate Davis Cup supporter and advocates returning to home-and-away ties and varying surfaces for the finals.
“Some of my greatest memories were playing in Davis Cup semis or finals in front of packed houses and it didn’t matter if it was in Australia or away, the atmosphere was incredible,” Hewitt said.
Photo credit: Mark Peterson/Corleve