Why Lleyton Hewitt, Leon Smith and Others Are Against Davis Cup’s New Move

Published 11/30/2021, 5:38 AM EST

The decision to move the Davis Cup to Abu Dhabi for the next five years has generated a mixed reception. Investment group Kosmos, the owner of the Davis Cup, has brokered a deal to move the Finals to Abu Dhabi from 2022 and the International Tennis Federation (ITF) is expected to approve the choice in the next week’s board meeting in Madrid.

In 2018, Kosmos Tennis, founded by Spanish footballer Gerard Pique, signed a 25 year, $3 billion partnership with ITF to transform the Davis Cup. That subsequently led to the creation of the new 18-team Finals format and an end to the old tradition of home and away ties spanning an entire year.

MADRID, SPAIN – NOVEMBER 19: Players of Spain line up for national anthems during Day 2 of the 2019 Davis Cup at La Caja Magica on November 19, 2019 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

The reason behind moving to Abu Dhabi is purely financial. After the 2019 event, Kosmos suffered heavy losses amounting to tens of millions of dollars and, therefore, shifting to Abu Dhabi would provide the organization with a significant hosting fee and ease the financial burden.

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However, the move has sparked a sharp reaction from players, with many concerned about the Davis Cup’s ability to attract crowds if the tournament moves to Abu Dhabi.

Players react to Davis Cup moving to Abu Dhabi

Following the news, Australia’s Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt has heavily criticized the decision of moving the Davis Cup to Abu Dhabi and described it as “selling the soul” of the prestigious international team event founded in 1900.

“So if they are going and selling the soul of the Davis Cup to the Middle East for another five years, they are really killing the competition,” said Hewitt.

At a press conference in Innsbruck, Austria, Great Britain captain Leon Smith emphasized preserving the history of the tournament and called on the Davis Cup organizers to hear the opinions of the players before finalizing any decision.

“It’s got such history, gravitas. No one can control what’s happened here, but we can control what happens in the future with it and, if you talk to any of the players or the captains who’ve experienced the atmosphere, the environment is so important, whether that’s home, whether that’s away, but it’s got to be full crowds, it’s got to be what’s best for the players and the schedules,” said Smith.

With Abu Dhabi hardly known for its tennis talent, there’s a potential risk of losing out on the full crowds, high intensity, and the festive atmosphere associated with the Davis Cup matches.

 

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Given the cost of flights and accommodation in Abu Dhabi, there’s a possibility of fewer supporters traveling to Abu Dhabi if the ITF puts its rubber stamp on the decision.

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In conclusion, with players already disenchanted with the move, many of them may find it less attractive and choose not to participate. What are your views on the latest developments?

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Kshitij Tayal

518 articles

Kshitij Tayal is a Tennis author at EssentiallySports. Having played district level tennis competitions, Kshitij is also a tenured journalist of the sport with over four years of experience. At EssentiallySports, he pens down some thought-provoking pieces on players and tournaments across the ATP and WTA.

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