'Have to resign': Tennis world seethes over $4.2 billion 'disgrace'

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·Sports Editor
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Todd Woodbridge, pictured here at the Australian Open in 2019.
Todd Woodbridge and Lleyton Hewitt have both criticised the Davis Cup's move to Abu Dhabi. Image: Getty

Aussie tennis great Todd Woodbridge has called on Davis Cup organisers to resign over a multi-million dollar deal to move the historic event to the UAE.

Last week, Australia's captain Lleyton Hewitt labelled the proposed move 'ridiculous', saying the new owners of the Davis Cup are "selling the soul" of the competition.

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Much of the history and prestige of the Davis Cup has been stripped away in recent years after it was purchased by Kosmos Tennis - run by Spanish soccer star Gerard Pique.

Kosmos partnered with the International Tennis Federation for 25 years back in 2018 in a deal worth a reported $4.2 billion.

They have since has revamped the Davis Cup and completely changed the format from home-and-away ties throughout the year to one standalone tournament across multiple days in December.

Earlier this week it was confirmed that the Davis Cup will move to Abu Dhabi from 2022 in a five-year deal worth millions.

According to Woodbridge, the decision-makers at the International Tennis Federation should hand in their resignations over the money-driven move that will rob the event of some of the biggest stars in the world.

“What player in their right mind is going to go to Abu Dhabi and give themselves two weeks off before starting the new season?” Woodbridge said on 2GB radio on Wednesday.

“There will be no off-season, there will be no time to prepare.

“The people that are making these decisions really need to take a look at themselves, because this event, I think, won’t be with us in five years’ time.

“Should (the ITF administrators) still be there? That’s the question.

“I think that if you’ve wrecked the most historic competition in the game you probably have to resign and move on.”

Former Aussie Davis Cup stalwart Sam Groth called out Novak Djokovic for his 'contradictory' stance on the move.

“I’ll tell you exactly the type of player who’s going to show up to a 14-day event in Abu Dhabi," he said.

"It’s the players who are defending the event currently that I am sure are having payments on the backside to support what is now called the Davis Cup Rakuten finals.

“This is not the Davis Cup. The ones that are going to turn up are exactly like Novak Djokovic, in my opinion, who spoke, rebutting Lleyton’s comments ... I don’t have facts on this, but ... this group is obviously spending a lot of money and they have some big financial backers in Abu Dhabi.

“For a guy that wants less tournaments throughout the year, a shorter season, to support something that plays into mid-December, is very contradictory.”

Novak Djokovic leads Serbia into Davis Cup semis

On Thursday, Djokovic led Serbia into the Davis Cup semi-finals with singles and doubles victories over Kazakhstan.

Serbia sneaked into the last eight as one of the two best group runners-up thanks to Russia's victory over Spain, and they had to come from behind again after debutant Miomir Kecmanovic lost an epic tussle against Mikhail Kukushkin.

But Djokovic comfortably saw off Alexander Bublik and he then teamed up with Nikola Cacic to beat Andrey Golubev and Aleksandr Nedovyesov as Serbia buried the ghost of their emotional quarter-final loss two years ago.

On that occasion, Djokovic and Viktor Troicki - now captaining the side - missed golden chances to win the deciding doubles against Russia, and tears flowed in the post-match press conference.

Novak Djokovic, pictured here in action for Serbia at the Davis Cup.
Novak Djokovic in action for Serbia at the Davis Cup. (Photo by Oscar Gonzalez/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

They may have sensed it may not be their night again when Kecmanovic was unable to convert four match points in a 7-6 (7-5) 4-6 7-6 (13-11) defeat by Kukushkin that lasted three hours and 18 minutes.

Kecmanovic looked on the brink of victory at 5-3, 40-15 in the deciding set but Kukushkin produced some inspired play to break back and then saved two more match points in the tie-break before finally taking his fifth chance.

Djokovic and Cacic lost a nail-biting doubles clash to Germany in the group stages, and the momentum was with Golubev and Nedovyesov when they hit back to win the second set, but the Serbian duo turned the tide back in their favour and clinched a 6-2 2-6 6-3 victory.

There were exuberant celebrations from the two players and Troicki, and they can look forward to a semi-final against Croatia on Friday.

"I'm proudest of the fighting spirit," said Djokovic.

"We had a little drop energetically in the second set but we managed to bounce back.

"The start of the third set was crucial. I'm proud of Nikola, proud of this team and I think we deserve to be in the semi-finals."

with AAP

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