The ITF Radically Changed the Davis Cup, and Players are Not Happy

Lleyton Hewitt Davis Cup #RIPDavisCup
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The Davis Cup needed to change in order to be revived into the spectacle it once was. Not a single player, coach, or national association will argue that. What was once a worldwide showpiece has seen declining attendance and few top tier players participate. The dispute and controversy comes in the “how.” The ITF clearly had the majority of delegates supporting the new format, with 71.43% in favor during the vote at its annual meeting in Orlando on Wednesday. And, this very change has left players and federations tweeting, posting and snapping. And, it’s official: #RIPDavisCup is trending.

The Czech Republic Davis Cup team posted on Facebookk, “We are sorry that the Davis Cup will never be what it was.” So, they’re obviously disappointed.

“For us, the result is a bitter disappointment which has left us stunned” was the blast out from German Federation President Ulrich Klaus. Sounds like Alexander Zverev agrees – he’s said he will not play Davis Cup under the new format.

In a statement tweeted for all to see, Tennis Australia was “extremely disappointed with the radical changes”. Hometown Davis Cup hero Lleyton Hewitt echoes that sentiment with his Tweet “Sometimes it’s more than a game. More than money. Most of my biggest highs and toughest loses came in 5 set epic Davis Cup matches in front of screaming home or away fans. For the ITF to take that away from the next generation of future stars is a disgrace.”

While the French Federation supported the new Davis Cup format, their players … not so much. Lucas Pouille has made it clear he won’t be playing it in 2019. His recent Tweet: “ You guys are a shame for tennis … (sad emoji) Let’s enjoy our last davis cup year and lets try to keep it home.”  Don’t expect Nicolas Mahut to show up either!

Jurgen Melzer’s tweet left no doubt how he feels: “Yesterday greed won against tradition. In 74 Matches in Davis Cup I have lost a few heartbreakers but the most pain full [sic] loss came yesterday and I didn’t even have the chance to fight for my country. When I was 9 years old Muster beat Agassi in front of 17000 fantastic Austrians and from that day on my goal was to wear that tracksuit and represent our colors. I feel sad that the next generation will not experience the joy of winning a 5 set battle in front of your home crowd. Or the pain in your chest that won’t go away for days because you let your team and nation down. These emotions and memories last for a lifetime.”

The young and rising Canadian star, Felix Auger-Aliassime, perhaps put it most poignantly of all: One of my biggest dream as a kid was to one day play a Davis Cup final in front of my home crowd. Sadly I’ll never have the chance to experience Davis cup like I grew up watching it? I still hoped tradition and history would win over money, but I guess that’s where we are now..

And, the women are weighing in on this weighty topic as well.  CoCo Vandeweghe tweeted, “Sad news and a disappointing out come for the Davis Cup and im assuming Fed Cup soon after. Home and away ties, representing your country in both areas, and playing for your teammates is what it’s all about. ITF is severely missing the point here.” 

Anastasia Rodionova asks the same questions as CoCo – is Fed Cup next? Her Tweet sure makes that clear: “Yesterday was a sad day for tennis with @ITF_Tennis destroying the traditions of @Davis Cup. What’s next?! Fed cup? Have they asked the players about their opinions? Players love playing home and away ties and this is what Davis Cup and Fed cup are about.”

And, leave it to Judy Murray to make lemons into lemonade. Her tweet shows the most fabulous dessert. “Salted caramel profiteroles with clotted cream. Perfect antidote to the Davis Cup decision.” 

The ITF is hoping that the new changes–and the money that comes along with them, will bring in more fans to the game and this tournament in particular. It is very clear, though, that the initial responses–from fans, players, coaches, and may associated with the game–show that this is not working out as planned.

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