Australian tennis legends unite in fight for Davis Cup survival
Australian Davis Cup captains and players, past and present, fight for the survival of Davis Cup ahead of an historic vote to change the competition forever.
Four generations of Australian Davis Cup captains and players have united to fight for the survival of Davis Cup ahead of an historic vote to change the competition forever.
For many decades our players, coaches, officials, administrators and fans have passionately supported the Davis Cup and continue to do so.
A group of legendary players and Davis Cup captains have registered their concerns. From current captain Lleyton Hewitt, to Neale Fraser who in 1973 captained Rod Laver, John Newcombe and Ken Rosewall, the greatest Davis Cup team in history, to Pat Rafter, John Fitzgerald, Wally Masur, Pat Cash and Todd Woodbridge.
Tennis Australia wants reform for Davis Cup, but is against this proposal. It takes away too much of what makes the Davis Cup unique and special, especially the home and away aspect of the competition.
Tennis Australia will put the interest of the sport and players first and vote against the current proposal at the ITF AGM in the United States next week.
Lleyton Hewitt AM (Davis Cup captain 2016-current; Davis Cup champion 1999, 2003)
“I am obviously totally against these changes to Davis Cup and pretty frustrated by what has occurred and the lack of information available.
“The competition they suggest is not the Davis Cup. You can’t call this the Davis Cup. You can ask anyone for the past 50 years who has played the Davis Cup and they will tell you this proposal is not what it is about, nor what it should be about.
“There are a lot of people, and a lot of current and former players, who are frustrated by it and see this as a money grab. It is a money deal. How can a billionaire come along and buy into one of the sport’s biggest events, most important events? It is all about money, not representing your country. It makes absolutely no sense.
“The home and away fixture and the five-set battles are also part of what makes Davis Cup unique in tennis and sets it apart from the regular tour. Playing at home, or even away in front of a passionate partisan crowd is part of the reason we want to play. And this is what we’d be giving away.
“I am strongly against this proposal and I’ll do everything I can to help Tennis Australia fight against this.”
Wally Masur (Davis Cup captain 2015-2016)
“Firstly, I’ve always been a huge proponent of the home and away aspect of Davis Cup – it’s great theatre and along with the slams, is the best men’s tennis you’ll see. Davis Cup is also gives nations the chance to showcase the game locally, particularly if they don’t have a sophisticated tournament schedule, and of course it’s a rare opportunity for players to represent their country.
“I think most of us agree the Davis Cup needs some tinkering around the edges to ensure the best players play, but the radical overhaul in this proposal will decimate over 100 years of tennis tradition that has helped grow the men’s game to this point.”
Patrick Rafter (Davis Cup captain 2011-2015)
“I have recently been in discussions with Tennis Australia about the current proposal of the Davis Cup. As you may or may not be aware I was involved in a discussion with the Davis Cup captains in Paris about six years ago as both myself and Tennis Australia saw big issues and problems with Davis Cup. I was very upset with the President of the ITF at the time and his negligence of the old model of Davis Cup and its irrelevance and I couldn’t understand why the ITF didn’t see them either.
“After my discussions with the head captains of most of the top nations I decided it was simply too hard and too much effort on my behalf to keep trying to make change.
“Now it is rather ironic that the ITF has decided that change is necessary, but from what I am reading and hearing, it is still listening to the wrong people on how you make Davis Cup relevant again.
“There are some great ideas out there and I would suggest that the governing body of the ITF go and listen to more ideas before heading down a path that could potentially kill Davis Cup. There is simply too much history and tradition at stake to make the wrong decision.
“I hope the people that decide the fate of Davis Cup know what they are doing and their reasons have a strong moral standpoint. The Davis Cup is in your hands.”
John Fitzgerald (Davis Cup captain 2001-2010; Davis Cup champion 1983, 1986 and as captain in 2003)
“Davis Cup is an icon of world sport built on history and tradition. It has endured for over a century while other events have come and gone.
“Intrinsic to its longevity is the ‘home and away’ format which has impact and benefits beyond the playing of each tie and is a defining feature of Davis Cup.
“Competing in front of a ‘home’ crowd stirs national pride and passion for our game. It raises important values about playing for something larger than oneself and affects the economies and culture of host nations.
“Rising to the challenge of competing in front of a partisan ‘away’ crowd is intrinsic to its core.
“Reducing the competition to a generic neutral venue and surface will destroy the heart and soul of this unique event.
“While evolution is required it should be to the benefit of all countries involved and not just a financial opportunity. Change is logical and acceptable but if you turn a competition on its head, you lose the very definition of what makes it great.
“The organisation responsible for the Davis Cup should have a mission statement which promotes the game of tennis locally and globally.
“Ongoing issues affecting the competition, including the problem of attracting the top players can be addressed with determined lateral thinking from ALL stakeholders including the suggestion of providing a bye in the first round for finalists from the previous year.
“The unique qualities of DC must be retained – home ground advantage, diversity of surface, partisan crowds and local conditions.
“The proposed changes would create another international tennis competition…….but it will not be Davis Cup.
“Davis cup is its format and without that it will cease to exist.”
John Newcombe AO OBE (Davis Cup captain 1994-2000; Davis Cup champion 1964, 65, 66, 67, 1973 and as captain in 1999)
“Neale Fraser and I had an interesting meeting at Wimbledon with ITF President Dave Haggerty and the President of French tennis. We wanted to find out exactly what their plan was for reforming the Davis Cup. At the finish I congratulated them on coming up with change as many of us former Davis Cuppers have been waiting 25 years for the ITF to act. I went on to say that unfortunately their plan is a recipe for the death of the Davis Cup as we know it.
“The Davis Cup is 118 years old and was the forerunner that made tennis into an international sport. Their proposal will be voted on by all the ITF nations at the end of August and as much as I like Dave Haggerty I hope it gets defeated.
“There is a much better way to do this and if the proposal is defeated I would hope the ITF sits down with all interested parties to come up with a solution that saves the Davis Cup. It is too important for tennis to just let it become another event on the calendar that has no real meaning.”
Neale Fraser AO MBE (Davis Cup captain 1970-1993; former ITF Davis Cup committee member)
“It would be disastrous.
“The Davis Cup is one of the greatest competitions in the world in any sport and they are trying to crucify it by having it over one week. They may as well throw the ball up in the air and see where it lands to decide a winner.
“I just think it is a disaster and I am hopeful that Australia is strong enough to convince other nations to take a stand.”
Rod Laver AC MBE (Davis Cup player 1959-1973; Davis Cup champion 1959–62 and 1973)
“It was always an honour and privilege to play Davis Cup. The ties I played in for Australia, both at home and abroad, remain among my most cherished tennis memories.
“I want players from all nations to continue to enjoy similar feelings when they represent their countries.
“Proposed changes to the format needed to be subject to the widest possible consultation and agreement, to ensure there are no unintended consequences that could impact the great traditions of the Davis Cup.”
Pat Cash (Davis Cup player 1983-1990; Davis Cup champion 1983 and 1986)
“I have great concerns for the long term future of the Davis Cup.
“If the proposed changes are put in place, the greatest team competition tennis will struggle to survive, and the truly sad thing is that the youth of most nations will rarely see their heroes play in person.”
Todd Woodbridge OAM (Davis Cup player 1991-2005; Davis Cup champion 1999 and 2003)
“Davis Cup holds some of the greatest memories of my career and I have grave concerns with the current proposal. Administrators are making decisions against the will of the players – who are not against change – but the lack of transparency and information on the business model and logistics is extremely worrying.
“In this process already announcements have been made and media releases have been issued, only to be altered and changed due to lack of support.
“If this proposal goes through it may well be the beginning of the end of Davis Cup.”